Is Campfire Smoke Bad for Your Hair? Will It Dry Out?

There is something nostalgic about campfires. Most of us have at least one memory of sitting around a warm, glowing fire. Singing and chatting all whilst making smores or eating corn dogs on their sticks.

Anyone who has experienced a campfire will know the smell gets everywhere, including your hair. We look at the implications of smoke on your hair and whether it causes it to dry out. If you are wondering if campfire smoke is bad for your hair, then keep reading.

Not only can your hair smell smoky after sitting around a campfire, but it can also start to feel unhealthy. The smoke causes hair to dry out and can damage the follicles. The carcinogens in smoke can cause hair loss. This means individuals prone to thinning hair should err on the side of caution.

Does Campfire Smoke Damage Hair?

Campfires can be so much fun and bring a sense of bonding between friends or family. Singing a few songs, having a few cheeky drinks, and enjoying some good old-fashioned flame-cooked grub. If this scenario is familiar and something that you partake in often, you may need to consider the impact it has on the health of your hair.

We already know how our hair smells after being exposed to fire, this goes for BBQs, wildfires, bonfires, or campfires. You don’t even need to be that close for your entire being to smell smoky afterward. It is usually a case of clothes straight in the laundry and that hair having a good old shampoo and rinse.

Regular exposure to campfire smoke will damage hair and it will begin to feel brittle. This can lead to the ends breaking easily. Particles within the fire can cause scalp irritation which in turn impacts negatively on hair growth. Carcinogens, found in campfire smoke, can cause hair thinning.

How Wildfire Smoke Affects Your Skin And Hair

Wildfires are sadly an all too common phenomenon in these ever-changing climate conditions. We know the irreparable damage these fast-spreading destructive fires cause to the environment. However, with so many people living in areas badly affected by wildfires, it is time to also consider the damage they are doing to our skin and hair.

Many people are in a situation where life is carrying on, despite the heavy smoke outside of their homes. This means their skin and hair are being exposed to smoke every single day and this will eventually cause problems.

There are so many different particles in the air once a large fire takes hold. Often, unnatural elements will burn too which releases nasty chemicals. A Study, carried out in April 2021, found links between wildfires and skin conditions such as eczema.

Smoke can also clog our pores which can cause spots to break out and skin to dry out. Skin is our largest body organ and so much of it is exposed to environmental factors daily. The epidermis, which forms a protective layer, is often adversely affected by pollution. 

Our hair can also be badly affected by regular exposure to smoke. Often, our main concern is washing out the smell, without thinking of its overall health. Smoke-damaged hair is more susceptible to breakage and split ends.

How To Protect My Hair From Campfire Smoke

There are practical steps you can take to protect your hair and skin against smoke damage:

  • Try and use products that are rich in antioxidants which will help to balance out the damage smoke can do.
  • Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and astaxanthin provide vital health benefits to skin and hair.
  • Smoke will dry out the skin so it is important to replenish the moisture lost to keep the skin in good condition. Choosing a moisturizer rich in ceramides will stop smoke from entering your pores.
  • Hair serums offer great protection from smoke by acting as a barrier and replenishing the cuticles.
  • When smoke is bad outdoors, try and stay at home as much as possible with the windows closed.
  • Going out is inevitable so pop on a hat or scarf around your head. This will go some way to prevent smoke damage.
  • Wear suitable clothing – you want as much coverage as possible to protect your skin.
  • Face masks are a great option and almost all households own these post-pandemic.
  • Air purifiers are worth investing in for the home. Even with doors and windows closed, it is still possible for smoke to find its way inside.
  • Use products that contain SPF as this will help your skin when pollution combines with UV rays.
  • Washing your hair and body regularly will remove any smoke particles resting on the skin and hair.
  • You can purchase scalp serums which can reduce any irritation caused by smoke damage.

How to Remove Campfire Smoke from Your Hair

As tempting as it is to sit as close to the campfire as humanly possible, try sitting further back. The closer you are, the more damage you are going to do to your hair. Also, take regular breaks from sitting next to the fire by taking a walk or sitting somewhere else.

Before you enjoy those campfire vibes, run some coconut oil through the ends of your hair. This helps to look for moisture and reduces the drying-out effect. As soon as you get back home, give your hair a wash using a mild shampoo. You can also help by wearing a scarf or a hat with your hair tucked up inside.

TOP TIP: Using apple cider vinegar on the hair is a great way of getting rid of that smoky smell.

Using a regular hair mask or intensive conditioner can help keep hair healthy. All hair needs extra attention from time to time. Being around smoke does take its toll so it is important to have a good hair care routine in place. Using serums or argan oils is a great way to replenish lost moisture.

When you are short on time and cannot wash your hair immediately, then dry shampoo is your friend. Simply spray some generously over your hair, leave for a few minutes, rub in and then brush through. Your hair will be given an instant lift and shine. You can also put dry shampoo on your hair at bedtime and then brush it through the following morning.

Why Does Hair Trap Odor?

Unfortunately, there are so many products on the market today that damage our hair. Damaged hair will trap odors more readily than healthy hair. This is because once damaged, we lose the oils which protect the hair. Styling products such as heat wands and straighteners dry the hair out over time.

Strong smells such as campfire smoke get into the hair particles and simply sit there. When hair is very damaged, even washing it cannot remove the smell completely. This is why it is essential to keep your hair as healthy as you can. Serums, intense conditioners, and oils are all effective treatments for our hair.

We Conclude With Advice From Professional Hairdressers…

We put 3 important questions to professional hairdressers, we share their results below.

1.   Will sitting by a campfire dry out my hair?

Hairdresser #1: “Irregular campfires won’t cause too much dryness but try to avoid regular exposure.

Hairdresser #2: “If you have a pre-existing hair problem such as split ends or thinning of hair, then the campfire can exacerbate this”.

2.   How can I get rid of the smell of smoke from my hair?

Hairdresser #1: “Double shampooing will help remove the smell of smoke”.

Hairdresser #2: “You would just double shampoo as we recommend as the norm anyway”.

3.   Is there anything you can recommend to protect my hair from smoke?

Hairdresser #1: “Sitting further away will help protect the hair”.

Hairdresser#2: “Wear a hat with all your hair tucked into it. This prevents the smell from getting to the hair”.

(Hairdresser #1 is based in the US, while #2 is based in the UK)

Related Question:

Is it Unhealthy to Sit By a Campfire?

It can be unhealthy to sit by a campfire if you have underlying health problems. Conditions such as COPD, asthma, and emphysema can be worsened by inhaling smoke. For healthy individuals, sitting next to a fire is acceptable as long as you are not too close. Too much smoke and intense heat can take their toll on our lungs.