Expert tips on preventing hair loss in Singapore's humid weather

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We’ve attributed hair loss to genetics, hormones, stress, diet, and sleep pattern. But did you know that climate also plays a part? No matter what type of hair you have, humidity generally holds no favour for the hair. 

Humidity is the presence of moisture in the air, and our hair reacts to the humidity through molecular changes, meaning the water molecules in the humid air can disrupt our hair’s hydrogen bonds.

As such, for some people, their hair strands will absorb the moisture and swell, and this can lead to knotting or twisting in hair strands and ultimately hair fall and frizziness and other forms of damage.

If your hair has been bleached, dyed, permed, or is constantly heated with styling tools and exposure to the sun, it’s likely that the moisture in the air will be absorbed into your hair even more easily because of how porous the strands are.

Tien Goh, the Educational Manager at Shiseido Professional, remarks “Our lab research shows that during cold or dry climates, the scalp tends to secrete less sebum so the chances of pores being clogged are lower.

''However, in hot and humid climates, the skin and scalp tend to secrete more sebum. If the scalp is not efficiently cleansed, it might lead to clogged pores and problems like dandruff.

''Research shows that when the scalp is unhealthy, there is a higher chance of hair loss symptoms.”

Luckily, there are many things you can do to keep your hair strong and healthy and limit the hair fall and breakage in Singapore’s humidity. 

1. Don’t be afraid to wash your hair daily

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There’s a common misconception that we shouldn’t be washing our hair every day, and it’s best to stretch every wash in between so as to avoid drying out the scalp.

But, as Tien explains, “Daily shampooing is necessary to cleanse the scalp and get rid of sebum or impurities. Much like washing our face at the end of the day to prevent clogged pores or inflammation of the skin, our scalp needs that regular wash as well.”

Our scalp produces sebum consistently, and it only naturally makes sense to wash our hair regularly.

For people with naturally fine hair, Tien shares that the golden rule to prevent future hair loss is to choose a shampoo that is transparent and cleanses better for a lightweight finishing.

Shampoo for fine hair or anti-hair loss shampoo should be the best choice.

Even if you have coloured hair and want to keep the colour fresh as long as possible, you can also opt for a colour shampoo to prevent loss of colour.

Tien recommends “Applying a hair shielding product (like the Shiseido Professional Sublimic Wonder Shield), as it can protect the hair and help greatly. This product creates a hydrophobic film to repel water, hence preventing hair pigment from being discharged by water during shampooing.”

2. Keep the scalp healthy

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One of the most common causes of hair loss depends on the condition of your scalp. Scalp problems like impurities, clogged, or inflamed pores lead to hair loss and with a healthy scalp, hair roots will anchor into the deepest layer of the skin, tend to stay for a long time and have their lifespan lengthened.

Tien clarifies, “If the scalp is not efficiently cleansed, it might lead to clogged pores and problems like dandruff. Research shows that when the scalp is unhealthy, there is a higher chance of hair loss symptom.'' 

She goes on to explain, “The best way to ensure that the scalp is deeply purified, a weekly detox with a deep cleansing shampoo or shampoo for oily scalp is recommended, followed by a scalp conditioner to moisture the scalp after a deep cleanse.

''This step is essential to rebalance the hydration in the scalp; especially for women above 40s, as the sebum secretion reduces with age.”

Healthy scalp goes a long way, and if we want to keep it in pristine condition it’s important to start making the changes in your hair and shower routine.

Aside from your daily shampooing, you can also opt for a scalp toner to soothe, hydrate, cleanse, and protect the scalp against bacterial overgrowth. Be sure to massage it around, consider it a moment of self-care if you will, as it’ll feel good and keep the scalp from being clogged.

3. Use a nourishing hair mask to defend against constant air conditioning

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With Singapore’s humidity and hot climate, it’s likely that the air conditioning is always running in your home to counter the heat.

Unfortunately, air conditioning also dries out the room, and though it’s great for the humidity, it also takes away moisture from our body too.

It’s likely why your skin might feel dry and itchy when you wake up in the morning, and the same effects that happen to our body are reflected in our scalp as well.

The scalp can feel itchy and even flaky, and can ultimately lead to hair becoming dry, weak, or dull. To avoid this damaging effect on your scalp and subsequently hair, you can preemptively treat and nourish the hair with a moisturising hair mask that can help defend the scalp.

4. Protect the hair from UV rays and sun exposure

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Extended sun exposure can cause damage to the hair and scalp as it starts to lose protective oils that prevent cellular structure damage. Meaning it’ll likely lead to damaged hair that will feel dry and break off easily.

A 2008 study showed that excessive sun exposure is the main cause for the hair shaft’s structural impairment. UVB radiation affects the loss of hair protein and UVA radiation is responsible for colour changes.

To protect the hair from these damages in the long run, it’s best to use hair products that defend the scalp and roots from UV exposure. That way, you protect the cuticle of the hair and maintain the integrity of the hair shaft.

5. Practice healthy lifestyle habits

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Aside from hair products, there are other lifestyle changes that you can make to bulk up the strength of your hair and protect it from Singapore’s humidity. As you may already know, our hair follicles are made mostly of keratin, which is a protein.

Though many more studies can be done, researchers do believe that eating a diet that’s rich in protein will help prevent hair loss. Foods like eggs, fish, nuts, chicken, and low-fat dairy products will go a long way.

In 2018, there was a study that researched the correlation of fresh herbs and vegetables with hair growth and they found that best results happened when participants ate high amounts of them for more than three days a week. Supplements like Vitamin D, biotin, and ginseng may also help promote hair growth.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.