Pollution-proof guide to tame the tresses - Hindustan Times

Pollution-proof guide to tame the tresses

Dec 11, 2023 02:35 PM IST

Experts help decode the link between high AQI and hair health, share ways to help minimise the havoc

The effect of air pollution on one’s lung health is not unknown. But, what you may not know of is how detrimental high AQI (air quality index) can be on hair health. A research published in October highlights pollution as a potential trigger for hair loss. The study looked at the effect of particulate matter on the cells at the base of hair follicles. These cells are called human follicle dermal papilla cells. The analysis revealed that exposure to PM10 and diesel particulate matter lowered levels of beta-catenin, a protein key for hair growth.

High AQI (air quality index) can affect the hair health. A research published in October highlights pollution as a potential trigger for hair loss.
High AQI (air quality index) can affect the hair health. A research published in October highlights pollution as a potential trigger for hair loss.

We speak to experts to understand what exactly happens, how the effects can be mitigated and our hair can remain healthy.

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What causes hair damage?

The optimal AQI range for healthy hair is zero to 100, according to experts. When pollution levels breach the 100 mark, it can lead to hair damage. “Substances such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, heavy metals and combustion products can bind to the surface of hair follicles, causing damage to the cuticle and protein structure. This damage manifests as dry, brittle and lacklustre hair. Furthermore, these pollutants can bind to the scalp, leading to itchiness and irritation, which further contributes to hair brittleness and loss,” says Dr Amit Bangia, associate director, Dermatology at Asian Hospital, Faridabad. Dr Bangia shares how dermats are witnessing a surge in the number of patients with hair woes, particularly young women.

“Not only hair loss, balding patterns are also being noticed,” says Dr Anil KV Minz, senior consultant, Dermatology at Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad.

Eat right to eradicate damage

What we eat affects each part of our body, including hair health. “Don’t go for a crash diet that makes you lose weight rapidly in a short period. Such diet plans can lead to deficiencies in essential fatty acids, zinc, protein and overall calories, all of which can cause hair loss. Consume a balanced diet comprising leafy vegetables as well as coloured fruits. Incorporate protein-rich foods such as lean meats, fish, eggs and legumes as the hair is primarily composed of protein. Having adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins E, A and biotin, can also be beneficial. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, sardines and chia seeds provide essential lipids and moisture,” shares Dr Minz. In addition, experts suggest to avoid smoking, as it can lead to hair loss by vasoconstriction, which causes free radical damage to hair follicles.

Home hacks for healthy hair

Coconut oil, when applied regularly, can act as a protective coating on hair follicles, preventing chemical binding, providing moisturising and anti-inflammatory benefits.

A honey-water mask can help moisturise the hair and create a protective layer, mitigating damage caused by pollutants.

Aloe vera gel could be an added protection cover to the hair. It helps soothe the scalp and promotes hair growth.

Consider egg masks high in protein, which can help strengthen the hair.

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    Ruchika Garg writes on food, health, culture, and lifestyle for the Daily Entertainment and Lifestyle supplement, HT City.

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