Problems With Dirty Hair? Discover How Air Pollution Can Affect It!

Problems With Dirty Hair? Discover How Air Pollution Can Affect It!

When it comes to hair care, clean hair — surprisingly — gets a bad rap. Many people believe that the frequent rinsing and repeating of the scalp and hair strips strands of natural oils, causing your ‘do to become dry, brittle, and damaged. And while others may swear by dirty hair to better hold a curl, achieve a more slicked-back ponytail, and add extra shine by brushing the natural oils from the scalp down the hair shaft, dirt and grime are not all that good for your scalp and hair health — especially if it’s sourced from air pollution. 

Contrary to common belief, dirty hair isn’t always defined by second, third, or even fourth-day hair because washing your hair doesn’t necessarily mean clean strands and a fresh scalp. Up ahead, we unpack the signs of dirty hair, how air pollution wreaks havoc on hair and scalp health (plus, what to do about it), and the best shampoo ingredients for strengthening and nourishing while providing an effective lather all around. 

Signs of dirty hair caused by air pollution 

For most, the telltale sign of dirty hair is a greasy scalp and roots. And while excess oil build-up might mean it’s time for a good lather, it isn’t the only way to tell whether or not your hair is dirty. If your hair is ultra-dry and brittle, it might also be “dirty” — at least as far as pollution is concerned. Here’s how to tell if your strands and scalp have been compromised by air pollution. 


Much like the sun’s harmful UV rays, air pollution has a drying effect on the scalp and hair, which can result in a dull appearance as well as signs of damage like stark dryness. Not to mention, the itchiness and discomfort that accompanies dirty hair symptoms such as these.

Change in Texture

Carcinogens, toxins, and other nasty particles under the air pollution umbrella can also promote a change in hair texture. Because of its ability to suck moisture from strands, the brittleness and damage caused by air pollution might also lead to thinner hair. 


Dryness and a change in texture can both lead to inevitable damage that might have a longer-lasting effect on the scalp environment as well as the hair’s health. Two common signs of damage include brittleness and breakage (as well as split ends), which can prevent the hair from growing long and strong. 

Skin Irritation

Gases, dirt, grime, and chemicals can also cause skin irritations. And, just because your scalp is protected by its thousands upon thousands of tiny strands, doesn’t mean it’s any less susceptible to the same repercussions the complexion might face from living in more toxic environments such as busy cities. An irritated scalp is not the best environment for a healthy head of hair and might even lead to baldness. 


Thanks to a dry environment, it’s not uncommon for scalps exposed to air pollution to experience flakiness and dandruff. Because of the inflammation combined with the air pollution’s ability to strip the scalp and hair of vital moisture, a dusting of the scalp is not uncommon. 

Hair Loss

A 2008 study out of the University of London’s School of Medicine suggests that the particles in air pollution can have a long-lasting impact on the scalp and hair as they might get in the way of the body’s ability to produce the protein necessary for hair growth stimulation. That being said, the effects of pollution on hair were far greater on those that smoke vs. those that do not. 

Excess Oil

While air pollution commonly strips the hair and scalp of natural oils, it can also result in an influx of sebum as it tampers with the skin’s natural pH levels. As a result, some might experience excess oil, forcing them to rinse and repeat more frequently and leading to a dirty hair environment. 

How shampoo ingredients can ward off the effects of air pollution on the scalp and hair 

Like the skin on our face, the skin on our head — aka, the scalp — needs proper care and attention to ensure optimum health. That’s where a regular shampoo ritual comes in. In the name of hair care, our sudsy friend doesn’t always get the accolades it deserves. After all, many claim it can cause more harm than good as harsh chemicals strip strands of their natural moisture and leave the scalp feeling itchy and dry, resulting in flakiness and discomfort. But, that’s where the accusations are wrong — or at least pointing fingers at the wrong formula! 

Sure, certain shampoos are formulated with a cocktail of powerful chemicals that can lead to beauty backlash. But, a natural and gentle shampoo can get your hair and scalp the proper cleanse it requires without adding to the issue. Unlike traditional concoctions, gentle shampoo formulas can actually help lift and remove dirt and debris while providing the strands and scalp with an added dose of moisture via juicy ingredients with impressive hair care benefits. 


Take murumuru, for example. This deep-conditioning ingredient is extracted from the seed of the murumuru palm plant found in the Amazon Rainforest. Thanks to its ability to lock in moisture and soften strands, a shampoo formulated with this ingredient can not only kick dirt and debris to the curb — or, in this case, the drain — but can also moisturize and nourish while cleansing. 

Patauá Oil 

Pataua oil is another impressive hair care ingredient found in deep-conditioning shampoos. Rinsing dirty hair with an elixir enhanced by this ingredient can target the day’s gunk and also provide deep hydration and protection to the strands. Derived from seeds found in the rainforest, this shampoo ingredient helps optimize hair strength, and promote scalp regeneration while working to slough off dirt and debris. 

Anti-Pollution Hair Care 

Dirty hair caused by air pollution can be impossibly frustrating but, with the proper plan in place, you can tackle this haircare woe in just a few steps — and products. Much like our skincare regimen, our hair care routine should not only promote a healthier scalp and strands but should also target some of the daily repercussions we experience from environmental aggressors such as gases, toxins, carcinogens, and other forms of air pollution (as well as harmful UV rays). 

Looking for the best way to combat air pollution? Peep our protection plan against pollution, ahead. 


When we think of dirty hair, shampoo is the first thing that comes to mind — and for good reason. With its ability to lather the scalp and lift away dirt and debris, shampoo is an excellent starting off point. That said, how often you shampoo depends on your hair type. If you err on the side of oily, shampooing with a gentle shampoo such as Lumina Hydrating Shampoo, which can add a dose of nourishment back into your strands while cleansing the scalp, more frequently will ensure clean hair sans the repercussions. If your hair is on the drier end of the spectrum, a deeply moisturizing shampoo such as Lumina Nourishing Shampoo every couple of days can be just what the hair doc ordered. 


Shampoo is necessary because it helps cleanse the scalp and strands of pollutants. However, in order to achieve a healthy ‘do, you’ll want to top things off with a conditioner. Conditioning the strands post-rinse and repeat can ensure that moisture is not only added back into the strands but locked in for long-lasting hydration. We love Lumina’s Protecting Conditioner, which is specifically formulated to protect against air pollution (and the side effects that come with it). 


Post cleanse, the hair might need an extra dose of hydration — that’s where treatments come into play. For a once a week treatment, Lumina Hydrating Hair Mask can take the place of conditioner for revitalized deep nourishment. As for something more daily use, the Patauá Restorative Hair Oil can help supercharge strands with the nutrients it needs to repair and strengthen at the same time. And, if air pollution has your hair feeling damaged with breakage and dullness, Patauá Hair Tonic is the perfect addition to your night hair care routine as it can strengthen the hair shaft and prevent further breakage. 

Boar Bristle Brush

Brushing your hair with a boar bristle brush can not only lift away dirt and debris and invigorate the scalp, but it can also distribute natural oils from your roots to your ends, which can over time lead to a healthier-looking ‘do. Make regular brushing a part of your daily practice and reap the benefits! 

At the end of the day, we are all constantly exposed to factors like air pollution and we are all cut out to have problems with dirty hair, regardless of our personal hygiene. That said, we encourage you to take the best care possible of your scalp, strands, and ends. So, if you found this useful, keep reading our blog posts to find out more about hair and skincare!

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