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Why You Should Never Use Hair Conditioner After a Nuclear Blast

If you’re ever caught in a nuclear blast, there’s one thing that you should NEVER to: use hair conditioner. While it may seem a bit trivial, it’s extremely important. But don’t worry — we’ll show you why below.

Exposed to a Nuclear Blast? Don’t Use Conditioner!

Vector image of a nuclear explosion for a piece on why to never use hair conditioner after a nuclear blast

Macrovector/Shutterstock

Heads up – in the event of a nuclear blast, do not use any hair conditioner or similar products for at least a few days. Conditioner helps your hair hold onto moisture, but it also traps radioactive particles in your hair that can make you sick if you use it after a nuclear blast. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security posted these guidelines among other tips to safely survive a nuclear blast with radioactive fallout. In general, the keys are: 

  1. Get inside. Brick or concrete buildings offer the best protection against radiation. 
  2. Decontaminate yourself. Remove all clothing and wash any unprotected skin or hair if you were outside when the blast occurred. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  3. Stay inside. Remain inside the building for 24 hours to limit radiation exposure. 

The decontamination step is really important to minimize your contact with radioactive material. Once you get inside a safe building, you should remove all your clothing and wash it. You should wash your skin with soap and water and shampoo your hair thoroughly twice before rinsing. 

But whatever you do, do not condition your hair! 

Why Using Conditioner After a Nuclear Blast Is Dangerous

Conditioner is uniquely dangerous in a nuclear blast situation because it’s so “sticky.” Any radioactive fallout in the air after an explosion can settle into your hair and stay there if you’ve used conditioner. 

But do you really need to worry about radioactive fallout settling into your hair of all things in the event of a nuclear blast? Absolutely. 

Taking any steps to minimize the amount of radiation you’re in contact with can make a big difference. And human hair offers radioactive particles the perfect place to hide, thanks to all the microscopic cracks and crevices in the surface of hair. 

Decontaminating Your Hair After a Nuclear Blast

Woman shampooing her hair after using conditioner during a nuclear blast

RossHelen/Shutterstock

You need to make sure you’re avoiding conditioner and doing a thorough double-cleanse of your hair with shampoo if you’re near a nuclear blast.

As long as you carefully wash your skin and hair with soap and shampoo (no conditioner), you should be able to wash away the radioactive dust safely. 

In general, this is the plan to follow if you are outside when a nuclear blast occurs:

  • Remove and wash all clothing
  • Wash any exposed skin with soap and water 2-3 times
  • Wash exposed hair with shampoo or dish detergent 2 times
  • Rinse thoroughly for 3 minutes

It’s serious stuff, but there’s no need to worry. Radioactive fallout dust does wash off – you just need to be thorough to ensure you remove all radioactive particles. Take a little advice from Andrew Karam, a former U.S. Navy chemistry safety control officer on the USS Plunger submarine.

He was exposed to dangerous levels of radiation aboard the submarine more than once and says it’s easy enough to stay safe as long as you’re thorough when you wash up and don’t use sticky products. 

Karam says, “Most of the time, I could clean it up with soap and water in 5 to 10 minutes. We assumed 2 to 3 washes would take care of it…Radioactivity is like changing a diaper. You don’t want it on you, but if you do get it on you, just wash it off and go on with your day.” 

If you don’t wash your hair after a nuclear blast and you were outdoors, radioactive particles can seep deep into your hair strands where you can longer shampoo them away. 

In that case, washing with shampoo won’t remove the radioactive particles and you could experience radiation sickness. That’s why the best thing you can do is get inside immediately after a nuclear blast – ideally, stay indoors if an attack is imminent. 

How to Remove Radioactive Conditioner From Your Hair

To be on the safe side, avoid any type of conditioning hair products after a nuclear blast – even conditioning curl creams and serums should be avoided. 

Wash with soap, shampoo, and water only. Wait a few days to use your normal hair products. This will minimize your contact with radiation and help prevent radiation sickness in the event of a nuclear blast.  

If you’re a regular conditioner user or use a lot of moisturizing products in your hair, this may mean shampooing with a harsh clarifying shampoo (even dish soap or mild detergent can work) 2-3 times to remove all traces of sticky conditioners and moisturizers that can trap radioactive particles in your hair. 

Above all, your safety and health are most important in a scary situation like this. Prioritize finding safe shelter – a fallout shelter, ideally – in the event of a blast and decontaminate yourself once you get inside. 

Remember: Never use conditioner right after a nuclear blast. It traps radiation in your hair! Clean your hair and skin with regular shampoo and soap and stay inside to avoid more contact with radiation. Spread the word and share to make more people aware!

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