Is Chlorine Killing Your Hair? Everyday Damage and What to do About it…
There are many things about modern-day life that does not do any favours for our hair: Chemical hair products, air conditioning and central heating, air pollution and of course chlorine, to name but a few.
Chlorine may be something you associate with going to your local pool but sadly, this toxic chemical used widely as a disinfectant and water steriliser is often in fairly high quantities in our tap water too. The amount varies depending on where you are in the world, but even in small amounts, chlorine exposure results in dry, damaged, lacklustre hair due to the fact that it’s not only down to the fact that chlorine itself is drying in nature, it’s also to do with direct chemical reactions which result in chemical changes to hair components and therefore the physical properties of hair.
How Does Chlorine Affect Hair?
The first thing you need to know when figuring out how something might affect your hair (whether positive or negative), is what hair actually is.
The main component of hair is keratin – a protein largely built out of amino acids and cysteine dysulfide, which makes sulfur atoms form a structure called disulfide bridges. The levels of each of these components determines how the hair looks naturally and also when altered negatively through chemical exposure (such as chlorine) or positively through restorative products just as our very own Tabitha James Kraan Organics line.
Now that we understand a rough overview of the science behind what our hair is, we can take a clearer look at the science behind how chlorine impacts it.
As mentioned above, it’s the direct chemical changes that chlorine has on the very building blocks of what hair is made of that really does the damage. From the natural sebum covering the hair strands to the colour pigments and the protein the shafts are formed from – all of this is altered upon any contact with Chlorine.
The Damage & Our Solutions
You know those lovely natural oils we love so much? Well, Chlorine does a pretty good job at stripping those away, resulting in lacklustre, unmanageable locks that are extra vulnerable.
Replace those lost oils! Coming into contact with Chlorine is hard to avoid, so whilst ideally you would just never let any come near your locks, this probably isn’t realistic.
A once or twice weekly treatment with our Scented Hair Oil will go a long way in hydrating your thirsty mane and also re-balancing your scalp for healthy oil production.
The reaction of chlorine with keratin (the protein our hair is made out of) results in the formation of water-soluble chemicals which weaken the chemical bonds between the hairs fibre and therefore, the hair itself, which means split ends and hair loss.
Pre-wash protection. Using our Scented Hair Oil weekly as base-line to replace your lost sebum can really help you out here, as one or two pumps applied to the hair and scalp before washing will give you some degree of a protective barrier against Chlorine damage. Or for those immediate needs poolside, soak your hair initially with Chlorine-free water then apply a couple of pumps of the hair oil, creating a barrier to help avoid your strands absorbing as much Chlorine.
The reaction above also affects the hair cuticle, as when the Chlorine salts get in-between the cuticle ‘scales’, these then get pushed up and the overall appearance of the hair is left looking dull, dry and rough.
Porous hair is most vulnerable to the affects of Chlorine damage as the scales on the cuticle are already open, which leaves room for the Chlorine salts to get in and crystallise. Short of washing your hair in mineral water or installing a vitamin C Chlorine filter, we suggest getting your hair into great condition where the strands are less porous and therefore, less susceptible to damage.
How do you remedy porous hair? Deep conditioning! Firstly you need to set the right enviroment to receive moisture by doing a pre-wash treatment with our Scented Hair Oil, this will seal each strant and help it retain moisture for longer.