Hair in Desert Climates

Hair Fall – A hot topic in Arabian Gulf countries

In desert climates hair loss is a common complaint effecting both men and women from all nationalities and age groups. Doctors and hairdressers are used to complaints about falling hair. Women panic when they see vast amounts of hair on the shower floor and want to know the cause. One of the major reasons for hair loss in both men and women is due to the harmful effects of desalinated water.


About Desalinated Water

The main source of tap water in the Arabian Gulf is desalinated. Desalination is the process of removing salt from seawater to produce drinking water. However, increasing populations are polluting seawater causing additional bacteria growth. As a result, the treatment plants must add more chlorine to kill bacteria and then add lime (a calcium compound) to help control the chlorine levels. Whilst desalinated water is considered safe to drink, it causes many problems for hair. A common complaint in the Arabian Gulf from both men and women is the loss of hair.


Calcium in desalinated water

Calcium leaves hair feeling dry and weighted down

Calcium can build up on the  scalp causing flaking of the scalp, giving the appearance of dandruff

Calcium can damage the hair cuticle causing the hair to break off

Calcium coats the scalp, blocking new hair growth





Chlorine in desalinated water

Chlorine is found in tap water and in the swimming pools. It is a harsh oxidiser added to the water to kill    bacteria and it adversely affects hair. Any build up at the mouth of the follicle may cause the hair to break off, followed by coating of the  scalp and blocking further new hair growth. Active chlorine in the hair can cause hair to feel gummy when wet and straw-like when dry.


How the damage is caused

A healthy strand of hair looks like this, with smooth cuticles

Hair damaged by the harsh climate looks like this, with open cuticles

Minerals from desalinated water stick to the hair inside the open cuticles

The mineral crystals grow, causing the protective cuticles to break off

This exposes and damages the inner cortex, causing the hair to break off

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