What is Hard Water and Why Is It Bad for Hair?

When hearing about soft and hard water, it’s hard to not think that all water feels the same. In fact, it’s natural for people to go their whole lives not really understanding the difference between soft and hard water. At the end of the day, water is just water, right? Well, no. Washing hair using soft water is generally better than washing with hard water, and this is why some have problems with the latter. This goes for drinking water as well, filtered water, and those using an alkaline water ionizer, both benefit from better water resources than those using traditional tap water. This holds especially true in developing countries where the water supply may be suspect. 

What’s Hard Water? 

You could turn on a faucet all over the world and not notice a visual difference in the water that leaves the tap. Although it might all look the same, the hardness is normally determined by the minerals it contains. In particular, two of the most important ingredients are magnesium and calcium. When water contains lots of magnesium, lots of calcium, and lots of other minerals, it’s considered ‘hard’ water. The more minerals, the harder the water. 

Unless you have experience in this area, you’re unlikely to tell the difference just by looking alone. Signs of hard water include: 

  • Mineral stains on clothing after washing
  • Film appearing on the hands while cleaning with soap 
  • Spots on silverware and glasses after the dishwasher 
  • Reduced water flow or pressure 

For example, go and wash your hands right now. If you notice a film appear, this is normally a reaction between the soap and the calcium in the water. With hard water, it takes longer to clear the hands of soap for this very reason. 

Effect of Hard Water on Hair Health 

Why is hard water so problematic for our hair? Unfortunately, the same film that appears on our hands while cleaning them also affects the hair. With excess minerals in the water, a film covers the hair. Even while standing in the shower for a long time, there’s a chance that the moisture won’t penetrate this film. 

What does this mean? Well, for many people, it means dry hair and breakage problems. If you suffer from these issues and fail to deal with them effectively, there’s a risk of hair loss. Thanks to studies in this area, we also know that hard water can cause the following: 

  • Dry scalp 
  • Thinning 
  • Frizziness 
  • Tangles
  • Dullness 

Even if these seem like short-term problems, there’s a very real threat to the long-term health of your hair too. For males, the problem of hard water is just as serious as the threat to females. When washed in hard water, men often feel as though their hair loses strength, and this is a common problem. 

Solutions for Hard Water and Hair Health 

How do you bypass this problem and ensure healthy hair in the future? 

Use a Water Softener – These days, water softeners are incredibly affordable and widely available for your shower. Loaded with carbon, these shower heads remove minerals before the water leaves the shower unit. By the time it reaches your head, most of the minerals are removed and you get a better washing experience. 

Buy a Hair Mask – You’ve heard of face masks, and now it’s time for a hair mask. With these products, they often contain formulas designed to nourish the scalp and hair. After leaving this in for five or ten minutes, wash it out and you’ll quickly feel the difference (and your hair will thank you!). 

Invest in Clarifying Shampoo – Finally, you can also revive damaged hair with a clarifying shampoo. This will remove the minerals from the hard water and leave your hair in a position to shine once more.

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