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    September 01, 2020 5 min read

    How Do You Keep Your Hair Healthy With Hard Water?

    hard water hair shower

    What does hard water do to your hair?

    Hard water is water that is high in dissolved minerals, particularly those such as calcium and magnesium. When pure rainwater filters through rocks, soil, and even sand, it naturally picks up mineral salts like calcium and magnesium.  Hard water leads to limescale buildup in sinks, bathtubs, and faucets, leave mineral deposits on our dishes and glassware, and can even cause clothes to become faded after washing.

    Many people aren’t aware that the water they’re using for washing and bathing has an impact on their skin and hair. Hard water is considered healthy to drink, but it can have adverse effects on your skin and hair and can cause scale deposits on your household appliances.

    Hard water minerals cannot bind to shampoos, conditioners, and soaps, thus reducing effectiveness and increasing usage. After many washing, minerals dissolved in the hard water create a film on the hair, preventing moisture from entering the hair. The result is dry, dull, tangly, and faded colored hair. Hard water can also cause build-up on the scalp, causing dandruff and itchiness.

    If you suspect you might be part of 85% of homeowners who have hard water, there are some easy ways to check for hard water. For rural homeowners, there are DIY test kits, for urban homeowners, visit this site to see your city's water hardness level.

    Does hard water make your hair fall out?

    hair loss on comb

    The minerals in hard water mix with shampoo to form a salt that leaves a residue on the surface of your hair and scalp. Mineral build-up hinders hair’s overall elasticity, making it more prone to breakage. If breakage goes unchecked, it can lead to the appearance of thinning hair. The buildup of excess minerals can not only weight your hair down, making it look flat and lifeless, but can also make your strands feel drier and more brittle.

    That's not all - Hard water buildup on the scalp may clog the roots and interfere with the growth of new hair. Calcium deposits on the scalp may cause dry and itchy scalp with dandruff flakes.

    Does Hard Water Cause Grey Hair?

    This is a fundamental misconception that many people have. Hard water can only cause discoloration if you have dyed hair already. The calcium, magnesium, and iron contents in hard water is what causes the hair tone to fade quicker, taking on a duller tone. Iron in water specifically acts as an oxidizer, creating highlighted tones in light blonde hair and coppery red highlights in dark hair. The more you wash your hair in hard water, the more your dye will continue to turn more orange.

    How can I protect my hair from hard water?

    Here are some tips and tricks to protect your hair from the effects of hard water:

    1. Try a Vinegar Rinse

    vinegar rinse in bottleDIY
    : Any vinegar will work, but apple cider vinegar is the strongest. Mix 1 part of vinegar to 2 parts of water. After you shampoo, pour it onto your hair and massage your scalp, working your vinegar mixture through your hair. Leave it on for 5 minutes and then rinse it out.The acidity of vinegar works to remove calcium build-up from your hair by balancing the pH of your hair to leave your hair feeling soft and silky. When you wash your hair in hard water, calcium builds up on all your follicles, the acidity of vinegar neutralizes that build-up.

    Use it once a week, as every day use will make your hair dry.

    You could also put your solution in a spray bottle, and add coconut oil and lavender oil for a more luxurious treatment. Spray and massage into your roots, leave it for 15 minutes before you rinse it out. Make sure that your final rinse is with purified water or else you will counter the vinegar effects.

    2. Do a Final Rinse with Filtered Water 

    bottled waterAlthough we do not encourage using plastic water bottles as it's harmful to the environment, many have opted to use filtered water as the final rinse to help to reduce hard water damage. If you pursue this option, use a larger bottle that you can refill with filtered water so that you aren’t wasting so much plastic, and only use it for your final rinse before stepping out of the showers.

    3. Use a Deep Moisturizing Conditioner

    leave in deep conditionerTo combat dry hair and reduce damage to follicles, try a deep moisturizing leave-in conditioner at least once or twice a week. We recommend looking for products with all-natural ingredients such as jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and argan oil. These are known to seal in moisture within each strand, leaving you with a smooth and glossy finish.

    4. Use a Citrus Rinse

    citrus rinse lemon limesSimilar to vinegar, citric acids like lime or lemon juice is an effective remedy for neutralizing the effects of hard water on hair. Lemon rinse not only enhances the shine of your hair, it's antiseptic properties also prevent dandruff formation.

    DIY: Use 1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice and dilute with 3/4 cup water. After you shampoo, pour the mixture on and thoroughly massage it in your hair, paying special attention to your roots. Leave it on for 5-15 minutes before you rinse and condition.

    Note: Lime juice can lighten your hair over time.

    5. Try Clarifying Shampoo
    clarifying shampooThis is another option to remove the build-up hard water causes. Using clarifying shampoo for a deep cleanse once a week will wash away lingering residue and restore shine. When you find one that works for you, you’ll find that your hair feels less itchy, oily and heavy.                                 
    Note: Search for products that have all-natural ingredients and stay away from those containing alcohol and harsh chemicals that can damage your hair.
    6. Install a Showerhead Filter

    shower head filterShowerhead filters are the cheaper alternative to whole house water softeners. They can be found at any home improvement store and are simple to install. Just attach it to your showerhead and let the water run normally. Filters reduce the calcium and magnesium concentration coming from your taps, preventing scale buildup in your shower, sink, and faucet. While it’s not as effective as a water softener, it’ll significantly reduce limescale, and other chemicals found in hard water!

    7. Invest in a Whole-House Water Softener

    soft silky hair

    All of the solutions mentioned above are temporary. Plus, you have to use them regularly to enjoy long-lasting effects. A water softener is a permanent fix that will keep your locks looking vibrant and healthy while saving you money on shampoo, conditioners, and styling products.

    Water softeners work to remove magnesium and calcium in your house’s water supply, leaving you with soft water, transforming your dull, dry hair into silky, manageable, and healthy locks.

    Although it's more expensive than a shower filter, soft water requires less soap for a cleaner rinse, meaning you'll use less water, spend less on soaps, detergents, shampoos, and save on "quick fix" solutions. In addition, soft water balances your hair’s pH level! This is especially beneficial for those with sensitive skin who experience eczema, dandruff, and other skin conditions.

    Bottom line

     Installing a whole house water softening system is the best way to address all of the hard water's headaches. By installing a softener, hardness minerals are removed before the water even gets to your showerhead, so you never have to experience dull, limp hair again!

    The first step to getting you on your way to softer, healthier hair is by finding out your water hardness level. Once you’ve tested your water and know your hard water number, you’ll be ready to find the best water softening solution for your needs. Visit Aquatell today to find the water softener right for you!