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How to fend off damage to your skin and hair
“We’re all our own hair’s worst enemy,” says Charles Baker Strahan, celebrity hairstylist and Herbal Essences spokesperson. “We manipulate it with curling irons, blow dryers, flat irons, braid it, stretch it and brush it.” Guilty as charged.
But even with all that physical wear and tear, it’s often the invisible damage that we don’t see from UV rays, colouring, air pollution and hard minerals in our water (like copper) that are the hurdles to excellent hair days. “These invisible free radicals are constantly trying to chip away at the healthy proteins in hair so the surface of the hair is not smooth – that’s when you get dullness and breakage.”
Just how do different types of pollution wreak havoc on your beauty routine?
The culprit: Air pollution
A recent study showed that those who lived in more urban areas where smog tends to blanket their city tend to age faster than those in more rural areas with cleaner air. The science shows that grime and air pollution sticks to the skin, setting off a chain of free radical damage that damages collagen and elastin, causing inflammation and accelerated aging. This pollution is also linked to many skin irritations like eczema, and dull, dry hair.
Solution: To halt this pollution assault on skin, you’ll need a potent antioxidant serum, preferably with a combination of vitamin E and vitamin C (a concentration of 10% or higher). On hair, you’ll need to swap your usual shampoo for one that traps and neutralizes these free radicals so you can repair and fend off future damage, like the Herbal Essences Bio:Renew formulas.
Try: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $170. Available at SkinCeuticals.com.
Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Volume Smooth Golden Moringa Oil Shampoo, $7.99. Available at drugstores and mass-market retailers.
The culprit: UV rays
UV rays are beauty’s public enemy number one. UV rays can cause excess melanin production, leading to brown spots on skin, making it look older plus they break down collagen and elastin in the skin, so skin sags and wrinkles before its time (not to mention they’re the cause of skin cancer). Major bummer. On hair, the oxidative stress from UV rays fades colour so fast and can zap moisture from hair.
Solution: On skin, reach for an SPF 30 minimum every day and don’t forget about your hands – they’re often the most sun-exposed. On hair, aside from wearing a hat, there’s no real way to fully prevent UV damage. But an antioxidant-rich shampoo and conditioner can help you repair the damage that’s been done.
Try: Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Moisturizer with SPF, $34.99. Available at drugstores and mass-market retailers.
Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Repair: Argan Oil of Morocco, $7.99. Available at drugstores and mass-market retailers.
The culprit: Hard water
Hard minerals in our water can often make skin red and irritated and hair super dull and hard to manage. Copper, found in everyone’s shower water, is really the worst culprit of all.
Solution: To counter the effects of hard water on skin, stick to cleanser textures that don’t strip (milks or balms work well; gels and foaming cleansers can be overly drying) and for hair, reach for shampoos and conditioners that work to help preserve the health of hair over the long-term, like Herbal Essences Bio:Renew that work to neutralize excessive copper impurities in hair that otherwise attack hair proteins.
Try: Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser, $44. Available at Sephora.
Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Nourish Passion Flower & Rice Milk, $7.99. Available at drugstores and mass-market retailers.