8 Ways to Protect Your Hair from Air Pollution

As we age, we start to think more and more about how to support and protect our mature tresses. We know which ingredients to avoid in our hair-care routine to best protect our hair.


But what we might not know is that we also need to be protecting our hair from air pollution. Free radicals from environmental pollutants can cause hair loss, and these often fly under our radar as potential culprits when we start seeing thinning and weakened hair.


Research shows that the oxidative stress that environmental pollutants put our bodies through impacts our hair by damaging its proteins. This results in two key side effects for our hair: hair loss and graying. But these aren’t the only side effects—dullness, buildup and an inflamed scalp can also occur.


What Are Some Environmental Causes of Female Hair Loss?


New research from the American Association for the Advancement of Science has linked air pollution to hair loss, so it's extra important to protect your hair from air pollution and other environmental stressors.


Some of the top culprits include:


  • Exposure to smoke or smoking


  • Sunburn or excess sun exposure


  • Fuel and exhaust fumes


  • Airborne allergens that can trigger inflammatory responses including pollen, mold, ragweed, dust and pet dander.


How to Protect Your Hair from Air Pollution


To protect our hair from environmental toxins, we need a barrier between our hair and these pollutants. This barrier can be a protective hair product or a physical shield, like a hair wrap or hat.


But there are other preventative steps you can take to protect your hair and scalp from air pollution. Keep reading for our top 8 ways to help keep your hair its healthiest in the presence of pollution.


1. Protect Your Hair with a Wrap or Scarf


Wearing a hair wrap offers double-duty protection from the elements. It shields your hair and scalp from the sun's harmful UV rays, and it provides a physical barrier between your tresses and air pollution, pollen and mold.


Pollution can contribute to hair loss and thinning, and researchers found that UVB radiation, an environmental stressor, weakens the proteins in our hair, while UVA radiation can cause our locks to change color! So, if you've got plans to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous spring weather, be sure to add a cute hat or head wrap to your outfit for maximum hair protection!


2. Avoid Sticky Styling Products


When we style our hair with products that leave a sticky residue, we're inviting environmental toxins and air pollution to adhere to our hair. To combat air pollution and hair loss, opt for water-based styling products that also seal the hair cuticle, keeping out the free radicals that can cause hair loss.


To protect your hair, kick sticky, heavy styling products to the curb! Instead, try a lightweight, non-sticky option like our No Remorse Heat Protection & Taming Spray. It protects hair from harmful UV rays and heat styling, and it also smooths and tames frizz without the sticky residue!


3. Add a Deep Cleansing Treatment to Protect Against Environmental Causes of Female Hair Loss


We all know that healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. But what you might not know is that our hair can gain about 4% of its weight in pollution, scalp oil and product buildup. Yikes!


To help battle the negative effects of air pollution and buildup on our tresses, we need to start at the source. Adding a clarifying scalp cleanser to your pre-shampoo routine can help break down this excess pollution and oily buildup as well as soothe the scalp to reduce inflammation. Our New Dawn Activated Charcoal Scalp Cleanser has a massaging applicator to help brush away excess buildup, leaving your scalp clean and invigorated—without drying it out!


4. Style Your Hair in a Loose Braid or Twist


Tying back our hair means that there's less of it to come in contact with air pollution and airborne allergens. Less exposed surface area equals less access to our strands!


To protect your hair from air pollution, try pulling your hair back into a loose style. Low buns, braids and twists are all great choices—just be sure that they are tied loosely to avoid damage!


For more easy, damage-free hairstyling inspiration, check out our list of 17 easy, no-heat hairstyling ideas designed to help you beat the heat and look your best.


5. Go Easy on Heat Styling for Stronger, Healthier Hair


Applying heat to unprotected hair weakens strands and can even cause them to bubble! Once the strands are weakened, they become more vulnerable to pollutants and environmental toxins.


An easy, effective solution is to simply let your hair air-dry or use your blow-dryer on the coolest setting.


But if you're a daily heat styler like many of us, that's not very realistic. If you want to protect your hair from air pollution and heat damage, it's vital that you apply a heat protectant, like our vegan No Remorse Heat Protectant, which coats the hair shaft with vitamin E and plant-based oils to provide protection from temperatures up to 450F!


6. Keep Your Hair Hydrated and Cuticles Sealed


Aging hair tends to be drier and more porous, with cuticles that are less smooth. Rougher, lifted cuticles mean that our hair is also more susceptible to picking up pollutants, as well as smells from particles in the air. (This is especially true for those of us with curly hair!)


To smooth and seal rough, raised cuticles, nothing beats a rich, ultra-moisturizing butter hair mask. Better Not Younger's Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque is our go-to for maximum hydration. Our luxurious Hair Redemption uses a proprietary plant-based butter blend, biotin and argan oil to help seal hair cuticles and prevent airborne pollutants from entering the hair shaft!


7. Eat Your Antioxidants to Neutralize Free Radicals from Within


In addition to your antioxidant-rich diet, you can counteract free radicals that cause hair loss, as well as other premature hair and scalp aging, with a supplement designed to boost your hair and scalp health from the inside. Our Significant Other Hair, Skin & Nails Supplement + Retinol Boost is a terrific way to ensure you’re eating all your antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E to help neutralize free radicals from oxidative stress.

Our new You Glow Girl Probiotic Skin Supplement can also help. It includes our proprietary You Glow Girl BlendTM, which boosts the body’s natural defenses against everyday oxidative stress from free radicals to support healthier-looking skin—and this includes the scalp! Plus, it’s also packed with vitamin C.


8. Choose Full Transparency Shampoo for Pollution Protection


Our favorite shampoo for pollution protection, strengthening strands and boosting shine is our new Full Transparency Pure Revitalizing Shampoo, specifically designed to gently cleanse sensitive scalps of impurities and buildup while restoring luster and liveliness to aging locks. Pair it with our Full Transparency Pure Revitalizing Conditioner for a fragrance-free injection of moisture that helps smooth hair cuticles to keep pollutants out!


Created with mature tresses in mind, our dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic Full Transparency product line contains a blend of plant-based conditioning compounds that forms a flexible yet protective layer around hair strands to help reduce the adherence of environmental pollutants, which just might help cut down on all those pesky airborne allergens that can get trapped in our hair while we’re out and about!



Tell us: Do you have a favorite way to protect your hair from air pollution? Share in the comments below!


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Better Not Younger knows that protecting your hair from air pollution is important! That's why we formulated our entire line of products to address the unique concerns of mature tresses, including environmental factors that can take a toll on our hair. Let us help you find the right products for your aging hair's unique needs!