Can Hard Water Cause Baldness? July 7, 2020 15:42
What is hard water?
So first let's discuss the concept of hard water because its important to know that not all hard water is by definition "hard".
Hard water is water that contains a high mineral content that collects deep beneath the ground. The water is formed when water droplets run through mineral deposits such as limestone and chalk, producing a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. In opposite, soft water is surface water with lower concentrations of such ions, such as rainfall. This distinction is important to understand because your home's tap water is most likely pumped from underground as well. In that case - is all the water we have at home hard?
According to the Water Quality Association, water becomes classified as sightly hard when the concentration of grains per gallon reaches 1.0 - 3.5 and is hard when the grains per gallon becomes 7.0 - 10.5. All regions have different ways of collecting and distributing water so make sure you find out what is the water hardness level is your city first. The only way to understand if hard water has effects on your hair comes down to the concentration of minerals in the water.
Does hard water cause hair loss?
Hard water is indeed more common than you might think, almost 85% of all Canadian households have it. Let's face it - Hair is important. So if you are suffering from hair loss, you may wonder is hard water is to blame? It is commonly believed that using hard water results in hair breakage and thus causes hair loss. Here are some of the claims people have when it comes to hard water, sound familiar?
- hard water reacts with surfactants in cleansing products to form a film that clings to the hair and scalp.
- it worsens scalp conditions as the minerals can cling to the skin and aggravate eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
- it can lead to more brittle hair that is prone to tangles and breakage
- it makes it more difficult to remove product build-up which then leads to dry, frizzy hair and an irritated scalp
- it can lead to overuse of harsh, drying shampoos that damage hair
- it can cause a vicious cycle of itching, scratching, and abrasions to the skin
Unfortunately, while there are many videos on hard water as the cause for hair loss, such as the ones above discussing dry skin and hair damage, the research on this topic is sparse at best, and conflicting at worse.
Much of the research centers around whether or not hard water contributes to loss of tensile strength and elasticity of hair, but those studies tend to lack information about the hairs that were tested (their texture, porosity, condition, and thickness).
A research study by U.S national institute of health and medicine: Does hard water cause hair loss?
For example, the International Journal of Trichology published this study titled “Effects of Hard Water on Hair”, which concluded that hard water did not have an effect on the tensile strength or elasticity of hair. However the study only compared hairs treated with hard water versus distilled water for 30 days and only had 15 20-25-year-old female test subjects, thus in the presence of higher salt content or if the hair was exposed to hard water for a longer period, the findings could be altered
However, another study also published by the same journal titled “To Evaluate and Compare Changes in Baseline Strength of Hairs after Treating them with Deionized Water and Hard Water and its Role in Hair Breakage”, concluded that the baseline strength of hair did decrease when treated with hard water as compared to the deionized water. They found that the use of hard water may result in an increase in hair breakage as well. The test subjects here were 20-30-year-old males from an area with medium water hardness.
The research study did add that “Because of its large mineral composition, hard water could make the hair appear dull and make the strands wear out. When the hair ruptures near the scalp, it may look like your hair is receding at an accelerated rate.” So due to these negative aspects of hard water, people tend to believe that hard water can cause hair loss.
As you can see, two studies with volunteers of around the same age produced two different findings. To further complicate the problem, some of the minerals found in hard water are even used as remedies for hair loss. All in all, the conclusion, determining if hard water causes baldness, seems yet to be answered.
How do you prevent hair loss from hard water?
While the evidence is not quite there to blame hard water as the cause for hair loss, there’s enough to realize it does have an impact. When it comes to hair loss, you don't want to take any chances. Thankfully it is not difficult to combat the effects of hard water.
There are essentially three ways to counter the harmful effects of hard water on your hair.
First, you can soften your water by installing a filter to your water system. Water softener systems are available for most homes and they can be easily installed to ensure all the water that comes out of your taps – all of them – is softened to limit the mineral concentration that water contains. It removes calcium and magnesium (limescale) and certain other metal cations from the hard water – making the water soft, drastically improving water quality. When you touch the soft water, it will not look or feel any different, but your skin and hair will be much happier. Also, soft water can be beneficial for people experiencing hair build-up, eczema, dandruff, etc.
Your other option is to use natural remedies to wash your hair. Such as mixing a tablespoon of white vinegar with three cups of water, to get a softer solution for washing your hair that you can include in your shower ritual.
Another alternative rinsing method is adding lemon or lime to your water and using it to treat your scalp. The mixture will help break down the residual salts and minerals that might be leftover from shampooing. It's important to note that these last 2 solutions are just quick fixes that may not address the root cause for your hair loss
If you’re ready to look into the possibility of installing a water softener in your home, or if you simply have questions about the options available, contact us or use our Softener Selection tool to find the perfect water softener for you!