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Climate change may be responsible for your hair loss

Climate change may be responsible for your hair loss

Hair loss in black South African women appears to be on the increase, in the past we have seen a rise in traction alopecia which was mostly attributed to hair styles that polled the hair line, but now we are seeing more hair loss in the crown area. This may be attributed but not limited to the changing climate that is bringing more heat to the earth surface, and since the middle of your hair is the highest point on your body, it suffers the most damage from UV rays.

Climate change occurs when greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide trap heat in the atmosphere. While these gases occur naturally, humans have also been contributing to climate change by destroying forests and burning fossil fuels among other things. Greenhouse gases gather in the atmosphere and alter the climate creating an imbalance in the planet’s natural processes. Climatic parameters such as temperature, moisture, wind, evaporation and sunlight get altered.

Why should we care about climate change?

Climate change is responsible for the rise in temperature and heat waves that we have been experiencing. In South Africa, it is predicted that the temperature is going to rise annually by 4 ºC in the future and heat waves will become more common. So, in short, it’s about to get hotter

Why the rising heat is dangerous for your hair?

Excessive sun exposition is the most frequent cause of hair shaft’s structural damage. Dryness, reduced strength, rough surface texture, loss of color, decreased shine, stiffness and brittleness of hair are caused by sun exposure. UVB radiation is responsible for hair protein loss and UVA radiation is responsible for color changes.

The cuticle gets more damage than the cortex because it is an outer layer, meaning it receives more sun rays. This exposure can cause rupture and detachment of the external layers resulting in splitting of the ends. Dark and black hair has sun sensitive amino acids than any other color of hair. Therefore, dark and black hair has the biggest protein loss in the cuticle area. Absorption of radiation in light sensitive amino acids of the hair end up producing free radicals. These free radicals have adverse impact on hair proteins, especially keratin.

Signs of sun-damaged hair

The most common signs of sun damage include discoloration of your ends, as well as your overall hair color getting lighter (even if you don’t have dye in it). People may also have dry, brittle, overly-tangled, broken or wispy ends and lots of frizz. Sun-damaged hair also won’t hold the style as long and dries a lot quicker than healthy hair.

People who have dyed their hair, will experience the most sun damage. If you have fine hair, your hair will be flat and lifeless during the summer, and people with thin hair may experience irritated scalps or even a sunburn. If left untreated, the hair will slowly break off due to dryness, and it will be very tangled and unmanageable.

People who don’t treat sun-damaged hair are often forced to cut it off until it grows back into a healthy state. People with already thinning hair will accelerate the process of thinning.

How to treat sun damaged hair

Doing regular protein treatment. It helps revitalize and protect your hair from the sun. You can also use serums that have jojoba oil, products that contains Mango butter or hair products that already have SPF in them. Lastly, try to put a mask once a week during the summer. It will help to add moisture back into the hair. try adding raspberry seed or carrot seed oil to your normal moisture routine to get added natural protection from the sun. try to avoid the sun between 10am and 3 pm when the rays are at their hottest


Protecting the cuticle is very important for keeping hair shaft’s integrity. Protecting the cuticle is very important for keeping hair shaft’s integrity. One can achieve that by avoiding noxious impacts or by implementation of hair care products with UV filters. The sun can also take moisture away from your hair leaving it drier, frizzier and rougher.

Try and stay away from the sun, if its beyond your control rather wear a hat or cap, carry a water spritz in the bag to replenish that moisture.

Source: Šebetić K, Sjerobabski Masnec I, Čavka V, Biljan D, Krolo I. UV damage of the hair. Collegium antropologicum. 2008 Oct 1;32(2):163-5.

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