Hard water sounds like a contradiction, we are aware of the fact that water is a liquid, so how can it be hard? What makes water hard is not its feel or texture, it’s the mineral content in water that makes it hard or soft. What makes water hard is the amount of Magnesium and Calcium in it (also Iron, Copper, Lime, Sodium, etc.). The more of these minerals water has the harder it is.
The presence of these minerals doesn’t affect your health or safety, most of the minerals that make water hard are part of the essential nutrients we need daily. But what is hard water doing to your hair? Is it safe for your hair? Is hard water affecting your hair positively or negatively? And if it is, are there ways to prevent and reverse the damage? Keep reading to learn more about the effects of hard water on the hair and what to do to keep your hair safe.
Have you ever been swimming and noticed that your hair turned out dry and crunchy after letting it air dry? That’s an extreme example of what hard water can do to your hair. The mineral residues cling to your hair as the water evaporates, leaving your hair crispy and dry. It’s the same with minerals in tap water, the minerals in hard water can find their way into your hair strands and crystallize as your hair dries.
The crystallized minerals form a coat on your hair that doesn’t allow moisture in or out of your hair. This results in dry and dull hair that is prone to frizz and breakage. If you notice that your hair is extremely dry, even after shampooing and conditioning, it might be hard water working its magic on your hair.
This is an offshoot of the minerals in hard water drying out the hair. Over time the build-up of minerals coating the hair and preventing moisture from coming in and out keeps the hair dry perpetually, preventing shampoos, conditioners, serums, and anything that might be applied to the hair from penetrating and moisturizing the hair strands. It essentially makes your shampoos, conditioners, and serums ineffective. If this happens for extended periods, it can make your hair dull, frizzy, and more prone to tangles and breakage.
Not only does hard water affect your hair negatively, but in extreme cases, it can also negatively affect your scalp. Although this is extreme, hard water can dry out your scalp and initiate hair loss. If left over time, excessive dryness caused by the minerals in hard water can lead to other problems in the future. Now that you know that hard water isn’t good for your hair, what can be done about it? How can the adverse effects of hard water be prevented? Prevention is truly better than cure, listed below are some ways through which you can prevent hard water damage to your hair.
Buying a filter for your showerhead is a very good way to protect your hair from damage caused by hard water. The showerhead filter will filter out the minerals in your water supply that can cause damage to your hair. Minerals like calcium and magnesium - are the most responsible for dry and brittle hair. The filtration of the minerals away from your shower water supply will reduce the build-up of residue on your strands, thereby preventing damage and hair loss.
This is a more large-scale solution. If you’re a homeowner and you have the budget, you can install a water softener for your home to filter out these minerals from your entire water system. This might not be feasible if you live in a condo or apartment you don’t own. But if you own your own home, you can take a step further from the shower filter and install a water softener for your home.
This is more of a remedy than a preventive measure. After discovering how hard water has affected your hair and you’ve cut out hard water with one of the two solutions above, you can start the process of nourishing your hair back to life.
The main harm hard water does to your hair is the build-up of minerals that prevent moisture from getting in and out of your hair strands. Lemon is acidic, making it effective at removing the mineral build-up on your hair strands. Mix a teaspoonful of lemon with three cups of water and rinse your hair with the solution after shampooing. Let it sit for five minutes and rinse off.
The structure of our society and how water is supplied to homes make us susceptible to hard water and its adverse effects on the hair. In the UK, around 13 million households live in areas where the water is hard, that’s around 60% of the population. You can do some research to know if you live in one of these areas, some maps can give you this information. Try to avoid using hard water on your hair and skin as much as possible to prevent hair damage and hair loss. The Yao women are known for their incredibly long and healthy hair because they wash their hair in streams and rivers. We probably can’t do that, it’ll be nice if you can, but you can implement the solutions mentioned in this article to protect your hair from damage.
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