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23 April 2024

Falling Hair? I always take my shower with me

By Majorie van Leijen

It is an often heard rumor that the water streaming from the taps in the UAE is the cause of hair loss and an end number of solutions are available to avoid losing some more. How true is it?

Ask any woman who once came to the UAE for the first time, and she will tell you that it was her hair that was most unhappy with the change of place. Many women, as well as some men, claim to have suffered great loss of hair ever since they put their foot in the UAE.

"I know I have lost more than half of my hair," says a woman discussing the issue on a thread on ExpatWoman, a website for female expats from all over the world. "I can say I have now just the 40 per cent of the hair I used to have, the condition went from dandruff to some pimples in my head, all combined with hair loss," adds another, and likeminded comments follow.  

"It is due to the water," says Ibtisam, a Palestinian woman working in Bottom Pharmacy in Latifa Hospital. "So I have heard." "I rinse my hair with drinking water after I shower," says Qamar, a Syrian woman working in a beauty salon, "because the tap water here is very bad for my hair."

The two ladies are not the only persons who believe that the water in the UAE severely affects the hair and causes its loss. It is a common conception shared by many women, who when returning to their home country do not seem to have any problem. 

Michael Ryan, who works as a Trichologist, or hair doctor, at the Hair Spa in Dubai hears it every day. "I receive about eight patients a day. Half of them are suffering from incidental hair loss, which cannot be ascribed to genetics but is caused by something that must have occurred during the six months before their hair fall started."

According to the Trichologist, the problem is that women easily influence each other by self-prescribing all sorts of solutions, through which rumors develop about what could be causing the hair loss.

"Water from the tap does not cause hair to fall. It might cause hair to break and sometimes makes the hair dull. But hair loss has a number of other causes," Ryan clearly states.

Nevertheless, the tale seems to be convincing enough to move a lot of women into searching for that perfect solution in their bathrooms. This has led to a booming business of the shower filter; a supply that can be adjusted into the showerhead with the purpose of filtering the damaging water from its main aggressor: chloride.

"Yes, it is true," says Julia Tarasova, sales manager at Blu Intelligent Health Solutions, a company distributing the shower heads. "Water from the tap causes hair loss. Bathing causes hair loss, actually, because the water coming from the tap in your house contains chloride."

On the website of Blu Intelligent Design it states about chloride: "It is a major cause of hair loss, dandruff, dry and itchy scalp, hair breakage, splitting ends, unmanageable hair and its dull color" and the statement is said to be supported by scientific evidence.

"A shower head eliminates a certain percentage (depending on the design) of chloride, kills harmful bacteria and ionizes the water. You will feel right away that the water is much softer," says Julia. The shower head will set a buyer back by Dh299.

Women who have used the shower filter are positive about the results. "I suffered badly from hair loss due to the harsh water in Dubai and after I started using this hair filter it made my skin go better as well as I stopped losing hair. It catches a lot of the sand, chlorine, and harsh impurities that are in the water here in Dubai," tells one of the women on ExpatWoman.

"It most likely improves the quality of your hair," says Ryan. "But again, it cannot have an effect in hair loss, as this is not caused only by the components of water."

To explain what could cause hair fall, Ryan emphasizes that it is a medical ailment, which needs doctor consultation. "There are several options. It could be due to hormonal changes or a change in nutrition, both of which need different treatments. "

Julia Tarasova adds:"it is not specifically the water in the UAE that is the problem. I think most people get used to the water they have always used," says Julia. Their hair and skin responds to that water much better than the water in a new country, where their body needs to readjust. I personally take my shower head wherever I go. I can't do without it."

But what is specific of the UAE, is the care for hair, Julia thinks. "Look around you, and you will find on every corner a shop or clinic that is claiming to improve your appearance. Beauty is important in the UAE, and hair is an important aspect of beauty. Especially women like to show off with their hair," she says and she tells that customers even make orders for the shower head sold by Blu 3 to 4 times a year, although the filter does its work for an entire year. 

Pharmacies, beauty salons and regular supermarkets often display a variety of products to improve the quality of hair - special shampoos, supplements and oils from different brands, for men and for women.

"People might feel tempted to buy whatever looks as if it could help them, but this not affective," says Ryan, who recommends that people should determine the source of the problem first, then to follow a suitable plan.