Save Me From... Sun & Sweat Damage

Beth:

Determination, tenacity, or what many people might just describe as “active”. Whatever this x-factor quality is, she is the type of woman who just. doesn’t. stop. To illustrate Beth’s outlook on life, think of that person who sees a scaling, cold, and challenging mountain and simply feels empowered.  She takes the bull by the horns and says “it’s just what I like to do” and doesn’t give naysayers the time of day. In fact, chances are, she forgot the time of day since she’s is too busy exploring something fantastically new.

Beth loves to run, hike, snorkel, play volleyball or basketball, the list could go on for miles…like her marathon run last month. At the end of the day, her strapped back hair hasn’t left its cozy home on the back of her head. Even when Beth isn’t on the move, she probably doesn’t settle for anything less than a view of the ocean, mountains, or bike trails. When she gets the itch to just get out there, she can walk right out her front door and do it. Beth is strong inside and out and accepts challenges head on from any source.

Many women are like Beth. Even those who don’t consider themselves “active” still see her lifestyle and admire her sense of personal wellbeing. However, this energetic, on-the-go lifestyle comes at great cost- to her hair that is.

After all, have you ever thought: what does sweat do to your hair and scalp?

First of all, let’s discuss the ingredients in Beth’s sweat (okay, the ingredients in all our sweat…)

  • Water. Well that doesn’t sound so bad…
  • Salt. So what?
  • Lactic Acid. You mean the stuff that’s in milk?
  • Lipids. Never heard of it.
  • Proteins. Don’t I want those?

Truthfully, you have two different types of sweat glands. There’s the kind that are all over your body, eccrine glands, and then there are the kinds that are only in the parts where you have hair follicles: these are called apocrine glands. We won’t get into the nitty gritty about it all here, but here’s some quick info:

Apocrine glands…

…produce the “smelly” kind of sweat we allllll enjoy when we are running late for a hot date ;). This is because of the higher concentration of all of the other stuff in your sweat besides water. Sweat isn’t just about your body cooling off, it’s about your body excreting excess nutrients as well as toxins. That means that Beth’s hair is getting bombarded with stuff it doesn’t get a lot of exposure to. OR stuff that even your body doesn’t want and is trying to get rid of!

Let’s skip the chat about water and salt and head straight to lactic acid. Lactic acid really likes to break down the keratin coating in your hair- you know, that coating that your body makes to keep your hair strong? In very modest amounts this can actually be a beneficial situation as it can lower the amount of bacteria that live on your head. Then your hair can absorb certain nutrients.

However, in consistently larger quantities, the lactic acid breaks down the hair altogether making it brittle and fragile. In fact, lactic acid is one of the main ingredients in many hair removal products strictly because of this ability! (Yikes!)

Lipids and proteins…

…don’t seem so bad…except that lipids aren’t water soluble and bacteria looooove them as well as proteins. When your body is excreting these excess lipids and proteins, and the extra lactic acid is tearing away the protective coating, the bacteria like to think that this is a good time to start chowing down! (You’re welcome for that visual, by the way.) All of this leaving your already vulnerable hair unprotected and attacked by a tribe of bacteria and icky toxins.

Now that you’ve been thoroughly educated about what sweat does to your hair, the next question is:

What does the sun do to hair?

Okay, maybe you already know this one, but the UVA and UVB rays from the sun also like to break down keratin from the hair’s cuticle. Those with lighter hair are especially vulnerable to sun damage as there is often not enough oil on the hair to protect it from this harmful effect. Those with darker hair, though, maybe experience lightening of their hair, which might look pretty, but it basically means that the sun has been stripping its nutrients.

With this combination of sun and sweat, Beth’s hair is ultimately vulnerable to damage in more than a temporary sense! It can mean much more hair breakage and loss. What does this mean for Beth? Well, if she wants her hair to survive much longer with the lifestyle that she enjoys, she’s going to have to start taking some necessary precautions and considering careful treatments.

Did you find this profile about Beth useful? Ever wonder how your lifestyle is affecting your hair? Send it to your active friend and subscribe to our email list for more health and hair tips! We have started a journey toward contributing our voice in wellness and suicide prevention, and we want you to be a part of our community.

 

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