Your hair has to withstand aggressors that far surpass the daily styling plus intermittent, yet harsh, chemical treatments (like coloring to straightening) that you put it through. From being barraged by sunlight that threatens to decrease its strength and rob it of moisture, to pollution and dirt drastically decreasing the life of your blowout, experts reveal the environmental x-factors that affect your style day after day.
“When it comes to environmental damage on hair, the biggest culprit is sunlight,” says Diane Minar, senior scientist at Nexxus New York Salon Care. Here’s why: UV light creates free radicals that oxidize both the lipids (the hydrating molecules that make strands hydrophobic and prevent water from getting inside) and proteins, the building block of hair, that reinforce its structure. “And when those become damaged, the integrity of your hair becomes compromised,” explains Minar. The result—strands not only look dull, they feel dry and lack flexibility. And because, unlike skin, hair cannot trigger a metabolic reaction to repair, “once you’ve weakened the integrity of hair, and bonds have been broken in the hair fiber, you have to strengthen it from the outside in,” says Minar.
Pro Tip: Wearing a hat and wrapping hair into a tight bun is your best defense against ultraviolet light. Keeping it hydrated 24/7 with a strengthening daily conditioner, plus a mix of hydrating styling products, leave in crèmes and weekly masks helps prevent further damage during your daily styling routine.
There are dirt and grime particles floating in the air and passing through your hair every second of every day. If your strands are clean and product free, these tiny microscopic molecules are less likely to latch onto your hair. However, because it’s often essential to layer several products to achieve the style you want, if any of those product textures are sticky or heavy, they can act like a magnet and attract all of those elements to attach to hair which can make your hair look and feel dirty prematurely. “Sticky products can be dust collectors,” says Minar. “So, if you’re trying to get a few days out of your blowout, choosing the right styling products are crucial.”
Pro Tip: “Opting for products that moisturize from the outside in verses coating the outside of hair is going to let you maintain your style for longer without attracting particulates from the air,” explains Minar. Celebrity stylist and Nexxus New York Salon Care Creative Director, Kevin Mancuso, suggests perfecting your style with a lightweight serum such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Encapsulate Serum, “because it creates a nice resilient texture that controls the hair but is not going to collect dust.”
Continuous gusts of air can blow strands all over the place and destroy your style as well as cause tangles. But that’s only if your hair isn’t prepped properly. “Wind won’t destroy hair’s volume or style if you use lightweight products that allow your hair to move and easily be restyled into place,” says Mancuso. Plus, the light coating on hair can prevent strands from getting tangled and remain smooth.
Pro Tip: “I always use Nexxus New York Salon Care Comb Thru Finishing MistNexxus New York Salon Care Comb Thru Finishing Mist to set a style because it really is about capturing your style’s movement, yet being able to restyle your hair throughout the day if you need to,” says Mancuso. “It’s all about giving hair fluidity to maintain the style that you want.”
Because you’re constantly going from outside to inside, depending on the season, you could be switching from air-conditioned buildings to humidity or harsh dry heat to a frigid temperature several times a day. And that affects how your hair reacts not only to the products you’ve applied but also to the style you’ve created. “If there is a lot of water in the air, then your hair is going to swell and become more textured and possibly frizzy,” says Mancuso. “If the air is very dry, bare strands or hair that is damaged may lose moisture.” And if you’re constantly switching back and forth between extremes, your hair is never able to strike a balanced hydration level.
Pro Tip: Avoid highly structured styling aids such as waxes, pomades and heavy creams. And instead, use products that penetrate the hair fiber to soften strands yet also give some shape to your style. Mancuso’s go-to is Nexxus New York Salon Care Youth Renewal Elixir, “which delivers penetrable moisture that really gets into the hair fiber, so that it feels more substantial and balanced, without having to compromise and add weight to your hair,” he says.
Between racing for a cab or jetting down a New York City street, you’re constantly moving and so is your hair. As a result, thousands of strands are forced in many directions and over time, that can take a major toll on your hair. The good news: just like with your body, if your hair is flexible, it can move in many directions without any negative aftermath. “The common denominator here is adding moisture and strength,” says Mancuso. “And the more moisture and strength that hair has, the more flexibility it has, too.” That’s because if your hair is always hydrated, it can bend and flow and not cause friction against other strands or your clothes. “There will be less interaction with other hair fibers because each one is smooth and aligned,” says Mancuso.
Pro Tip: Apply quickly absorbing yet highly moisturizing styling products such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Luxe Lightweight Conditioning Mist for fine or normal textures or Oil Infinite Nourishing Hair Oilon coarse or curly hair to strengthen hair from the outside in, allowing strands to regain its inherent strength and flexibility.