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How to Protect Your Hair from Pollution

September 9, 2019

1 Min read

You probably know that pollution can damage your skin, causing fine lines, wrinkles and sagging. But, it turns out the gunk swarming around in the atmosphere can also harm your hair. Pollutants in the air (like cigarette smoke, ultraviolet radiation, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, heavy metals and arsenic) generate free radicals. Free radicals are basically molecules that contain an extra electron. Since electrons always need to pair up, they steal electrons from cells in your body—which causes damage. When these nasty free radicals land on your locks, the result is dryness, breakage, dandruff and sometimes even hair loss.

Air pollution has sky-rocketed over the years. According to The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” 2019 report, 43 percent of people in the United States live in areas with unhealthy levels of pollution, so it’s more important than ever to shield you hair from its damaging effects. Fortunately, certain ingredients and styling tips can keep hair healthy and pollutant free.

Use pollution-fighting ingredients

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, preventing them from harming skin and hair. We infuse our products with antioxidant ingredients like bitter almond oil, sunflower oil, vitamin E, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate and grape seed extract. We also utilize ingredients that have been shown to specifically ward off pollutants and toxins that inflame and irritate the scalp. For example, horehound extract, a type of mint, switches on our body’s built in army of antioxidants, earning it the nickname “Urban Defender.” A review of studies published in the journal Cosmetics indicates that horehound (known in scientific circles as Marrubium Vulgare) acts as an anti-pollutant when added to cosmetic products. Ivy extract is another proven pollutant fighter. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The plant contains triterpenoid saponins, which fend off bacteria and flavonoids, which attack free radicals, remove toxins and protect the scalp and hair. According to the National Aeronautics Administration (aka NASA), English ivy can also reduce mold and improve air quality by removing toxins. If your zip code indicates that you live—or spend time in—a high pollution area, some of these ingredients will be added to your custom shampoo and conditioner to protect your hair.

Avoid toxic ingredients

This sounds obvious, but plenty of hair products contain toxic ingredients. And when you’re already dealing with chemical overload from the atmosphere, you certainly don’t want to pile on more. Our products are free of all sketchy (and even potentially sketchy) ingredients including sulfates, which strip hair of oil and can irritate the scalp; mineral oils, which are derived from petroleum and some believe can cause scalp irritation; phthalates, which are used to soften products and increase flexibility but may affect the reproductive system; parabens, which are preservatives that may interrupt hormone function; and GMOs, which may or may not pose a health risk—but why take that risk?

Stay hydrated

Since pollution can contribute to dryness, you also want your shampoo and conditioner to contain moisturizing ingredients to keep hair shiny and smooth. We use ingredients like glycerin, glyceryl oleate, hyaluronic acid, hydrogenated palm glycerides citrate, plum oil and urea to ensure hair stays moisturized. Adding our hair mask and hair oil to your routine will also boost moisture. The hair mask should be used before shampooing to really open up your hair’s cuticles, and allow active ingredients to flow in and plump up your strands. Our custom hair oil can be used as a moisturizing treatment before washing or as a finishing product.

Wash your hair every other day, Try washing your hair every other day, Cut down on washes
Hair washing is a bit tricky; on one hand, you want to cleanse your hair frequently to rinse off the pollutants clinging to your strands, but on the other hand, washing hair too often can strip hair of its natural oils, contributing to dryness. “Washing your hair every other day will reduce build up on your scalp, midshaft and ends, without parching your strands,” says Alex Mish, a hairstylist at the Maria Livesay Salon in Old Greenwich, CT.

Avoid heavy products

Thick, sticky stylers can actually attract pollutants to your hair. “Avoiding waxes, heavy gels and finishing products, will reduce the amount of dirt and debris that can stick to your hair,” says Mish. “I like to think of it in skin terms—if you apply a heavy, greasy lotion to your face or body, and walk around in a windy, polluted place, you will wind up with dirt stuck to the lotion. If you wore a lightweight lotion, the debris would bounce off and have nothing to hold on to.” Prose’s custom hair oil is a great, lightweight alternative to heavy finishing products; it will smooth hair and tame flyaways without attracting dirt and other pollutants to your hair.


Ready to commit to custom hair care that will keep pollution from ruining your strands? Get started with your custom formula here.



The Prose Staff is here to share the best hair tips and tricks to help you achieve all your hair goals with custom hair care, breakthrough innovation and more

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