Anti-pollution skincare is not new. It’s been on the rise since several years ago, with environments becoming increasingly urbanised and polluted. Even in Singapore, the number two city in the world with the highest Green View Index (a rating that calculates the percentage of canopy coverage based on aerial images), pollution is unavoidable. Just think of all the vehicle emissions and the UV exposure we get, living near the equator. And not to mention how the dry season brings along with it the threat of haze from forest fires blowing in from our neighbouring countries.
While we protect our skin, we seldom spare a thought for our hair, which is as much exposed to the pollutants as our skin is. How does pollution affect our hair and scalp? Here are three things that happen:
1. Your hair becomes dull
For one, pollution particles that settle on your hair can cause it to lose its shine. It’s all dirt, but the particulates are small enough to embed themselves in the hair cuticles. So if your shampoo is not able to efficiently remove all these particles, they are just going to build up and cause your hair to lose its natural shine. And no amount of hair serum or oil is going to work to restore its shine, because the products are just going to add on to the impurities in hair and weigh it down further, which gets us to our next point.
2. Your hair becomes frizzy, prone to breakage and may fall off
The pollutants not only make your hair look dull. They may prevent the hair cuticles from closing up, leading to frizzy hair. Frizzy hair, usually caused by open hair cuticles, happens when moisture (not the good kind) gets through to the core of the hair, gets absorbed, and the hair strand swells up. Add that to Singapore’s humid weather and you can now see why your hair just turns into an unruly mop once you step out of the house.
Plus, hair that is weighed down pulls at the hair follicles. And no matter how resilient your hair follicles are, there is a limit what they can take before eventually letting the hair strand fall out. The pollutants also damage hair, causing it to break off easily.
3. Your scalp health gets affected
And there’s the problem of your scalp. Your scalp is skin too. So pollutants affect them roughly the same way it affects the skin on your face and body. Particulates can clog up hair follicles and, when not removed properly, lead to hair loss. Free radicals from pollutants can also affect your scalp health, causing dandruff and irritation. They can also lead to premature ageing, which can then accelerate hair loss.
So look for hair products that are rich in antioxidants and those that can help detox your scalp to protect your crowning glory from pollution. Here are five we like:
The key ingredient in this range is aquatic mint that is grown organically in southwest France. It is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant that combats free radicals. We like how the shampoo also has a cooling effect on the scalp, which feels really refreshing. The conditioner acts as an anti-pollution shield by preventing pollutants from settling in and building up in the hair. It also helps restore shine to hair, and can also be applied to the scalp to hydrate it. To round up the range, there is a purifying mist which neutralises odour from hair, including that dreaded food-court smell, for up to six hours. It also tames unruly hair while detoxifying and protecting it from pollutants without weighing it down.
This can be used in place of your conditioner or hair mask, and has a patented compound that fights pollution while treating damaged hair. It is also free of silicones, mineral oils and paraben.
This shampoo works by binding the ionic particles to pollutants to remove them from your hair and scalp, and prevent particulates from building up. It also has a soothing complex which forms a lipid layer to strengthen your scalp’s natural barrier and prevent irritation and inflammation.
Mix three to five drops of this booster serum to help restore shine to hair. It also has hyaluronic acid, creatine and moringa seed extracts to form a barrier around your hair strands to protect them against environmental aggressors. It also works on colour-treated hair, and is vegan-friendly and free of parabens, sulphates and gluten.
Though not explicitly marketed as an anti-pollution haircare product, this shampoo has charcoal to help draw out impurities and prevent product and pollutant build-up on the scalp and hair. Peppermint, spearmint and tea tree oils relieve itchiness and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help soothe scalp. It also has coconut oil to moisturise scalp and panthenol, a B vitamin, to strengthen hair roots and hair shaft. This is also vegan-friendly and free of silicones, sulphates, parabens and synthetic colouring.