Protect your hair from city pollution

Dry ends? Dullness? Itchy scalp? Increased exposure to air pollution could be a key reason to these common hair problems. It is pretty impossible to avoid pollution in urban Indian cities. Even in Shillong, the level of pollution has gone up in the last one decade.
Air in our cities is heavily loaded with dust, lead, smoke, nickel, ammonia, arsenic and hydrocarbon which adversely affect the quality of hair. These molecules cause structural damage to hair shafts, disrupting the outer layer, which may be associated with breakage and brittleness.
Hair loss affects more than 70 per cent of the urban population due to the microscopic nature of PM 2.5 (very small particulate matter) which get lodged in the scalp making it dirty and itchy. It also blocks follicles and creates pimples. Pollution hinders hair growth and damage.
Beauty expert Shahnaz Husain will tell you how to protect your hair from external geo aggressors and undo the damage.

Brush with care

If it seems like all of a sudden there is way more hair stuck in your brush, pollution is to be blamed.
Be extra gentle when styling and always start combing from the ends of your hair and up. Gentle brushing removes old hair, dead skin cells and other chemical products. Brushing also increases blood circulation. Use the nozzle on hair dryers to minimise heat exposure and keep irons less than 400 degrees for fine hair and 410 degrees for thick hair.

Adjust your styling routine

Hair that is exposed to excessive air pollution becomes damaged, feeling brittle and making breakage and split ends more likely. Keep this in mind when using heat from a straighter, curling iron or hair dryer. Minimise the amount of heat you use and always use a heat protecting product.
If you have long hair, it is better to avoid opening them while you are going out as it will expose all hair with pollutants. Colouring, straightening and smoothening make hair shaft weak and allow pollutants to enter more into hair causing damage.
Most of us leave home when hair is still wet from showers due to time constraint. But remember that wet hair attracts dust and grime even more and the same goes for applying too much cream and oil-based products. If you do not have time to completely dry your hair with a blower, use paper towels available in your kitchen which are made with highly absorbent material. After gently towel-drying your hair, pat your hair with paper towels. This is one way to protect hair from dust and dirt particles.


Your dull and dry locks need to be hydrated for a healthy and shiny look after being exposed to all the pollution in cities. Staying hydrated is beneficial for hair follicles from within and for hair shafts to stay healthy.
Ensure that you are drinking minimum 3 litres of water daily to keep your hair properly hyderated and prevent your scalp from drying out.
You can use a hydrating mask. Choose a moisturising or reparative formula and use at least once a week. Oil your hair regularly. This is a serious game changer and will definitely help you get rid of your hair problems.
Nothing works like a head massage once every two weeks. You may get it from neighbourhood saloons in the market or get it done from experts. Apply medicinal oil directly on your scalp and massage gently. Head massage stimulates blood circulation and improves the health of your scalp.
Jojoba oil moisturises and strengthens the hair’s natural hydro-lipid layer, besides boosting hydration levels. Moroccan oil head massage is cheap and an effective treatment to get shiny and lustrous hair.
Regular oiling of hair nourishes the scalp, cleanses dirt and dead cells. Apply almond oil regularly. It is an effective hair cleanser, keeps hair healthy and facilitates hair growth as it is rich in Vitamin E.
Warm half a cup of olive oil and then rub it to your hair. Cover your tresses with a plastic bag for 45 minutes. Later, shampoo and rinse it for gorgeous hair. Use this remedy twice a week. For oily hair, you can do this once a week or twice a month during summer.
Pollutants also collect on the scalp. The hair needs frequent washing if one regularly travels long distances for work. Shampoo, hair rinses, serums and conditioners help to restore the normal balances if they contain ingredients like amla, brahmi, trifala, bhringaraj and henna. They also coat the hair and form a protective cover. Mix one teaspoon each of vinegar and honey with one egg. Massage the mixture lightly into the scalp. Leave on for half an hour and then wash the hair. Rinse well with water.
Mix one teaspoon each of vinegar and honey with an egg. Massage the mixture lightly into the scalp. Leave on for half an hour and then wash. Rinse well with water. Heat pure coconut oil and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for five minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Leave oil on overnight and wash hair the next day.
For oily hair, have a hair rinse after shampoo. A tea water and lemon rinse will add shine to the hair. Boil used tea leaves again in enough water. After boiling, you should have about 4 cups of tea-water. Cool and strain it. Then add the juice of a lemon and use it as the last rinse.
Amla is also a common ingredient that has been mentioned in ayurvedic texts for beauty care. It controls hair loss and greying. It also adds shine to the hair. To make amla hair oil, take a handful of dry amla. Grind coarsely and add it to 100 ml pure coconut oil. Keep it in an airtight glass bottle and keep the bottle in the sun daily for about 15 days. Then strain the oil and store. The oil can be used to apply on the hair.
Weekly henna treatments will also help. Add four teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, two raw eggs, two teaspoons of oil and enough yogurt to the henna powder mixing it into a thick paste. Apply on the hair and wash off after an hour. If you do not wish to use egg, add more curd.
The best advice is to cover your head when in open, tone down on the styling and keep it clean.

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