It’s time for our latest installment of “The Root of the Matter.”
This is our regular HAIR/TALK feature in which we dig deep into the science behind manageable hair...debunk long-standing hair care myths…
...and address threats to your hair’s health and well-being you may not even know about.
Today, it’s one of these threats we’re going to discuss. And it comes from an unlikely source…
...from such an ever-present part of your routine, you’d never suspect it could be putting your hair at risk:
“Sad but true: That refreshing shower could be a bigger threat to your hair than you think!”
Naturally, before we get into how you can detect hard water, and defend your hair from its damaging effects, we should answer that crucial question:
Just what is hard water?
Simply put, hard water is any water that has an unusually high mineral content.
These minerals build up over time as part of the regular water cycle. This accumulation is most common in areas that rely on well water. But it can show up in city water as well.
Now, before you panic, it’s important you hear some good news:
Hard water is safe for drinking, and washing your skin.
But over time, the increasing residue it leaves behind can create everything from roughened, dull-colored clothing and linens…
...to clogged pipes, forcing your appliances to work overtime...and driving your water bills through the roof!1
And with all these problems, it should come as no surprise that hard water is also no friend to your hair.
HARD FACTS ON HARD WATER HAIR
First of all, hard water buildup can coarsen your hair, making it feel rough to the touch.
And, when brushing and styling, these less flexible strands struggle to hold their shape, and don’t respond as well to styling products.
“When hard water damage strikes, a simple brushing can become a frustrating chore”
Also, over time, the accumulation of minerals can fade color-treated hair...or even change your color altogether!2
Additionally, hard water minerals drain the shine from your hair...weigh down the body of once-bouncy curls...and even aggravate more persistent skin conditions, like eczema.
In fact, hard water makes even the simple act of washing your hair more difficult.
That’s because the minerals in hard water block shampoos and conditioners from working at their full strength.
As a result, you’re forced to wash more often than you should...stripping away essential oils, moisture, and luster!
I wish we could say you don’t have hard water in your home for sure.
But the truth is...about 85% of all people in the US regularly wash their hair with hard water!3
DO YOU HAVE HARD WATER?
If you suspect you might be part of this vast majority, there are some easy ways to check for hard water.
For example, laboratories can test an actual water sample from your home.
However, these tests are not inexpensive, and can take longer than you may be willing to wait.
To try a quick, do-it-yourself hard water test, all you need is a clear bottle, some non-detergent pure liquid dish soap...and, of course, some of that suspicious water.
Fill the bottle about a third of the way with tap water, then add 10 drops of the dish soap.
Shake the bottle for about 10 seconds, then set it down.
“If the suds from the dish soap stay near the surface of the water, you’re probably dealing with mostly ‘soft’ water”
What do you see?
If the water gets sudsy in a hurry, but the water below the suds stays clear, you should have nothing to worry about.
But if the water doesn’t hold much of a lather at all, and the water below those thin suds is murky…
...in that case, you’re going to want to read this next section very carefully!4
SIMPLE TIPS FOR FIGHTING HARD WATER HAIR DAMAGE
So you’ve run the tests, you’ve shaken that soapy-water bottle...and it looks like you’re living with hard water.
Now, what can you do to keep this mineral buildup from leaving you with rough, dull, hard-to- style hair?
You’ll be glad to know there are a range of solutions for combating the effects of hard water.
All of them will help you enjoy your regular shower and shampoo, without all that hard-water fear!
- INSTALL A WATER SOFTENER: These appliances strain metal and mineral deposits from your water. If you’ve developed eczema or other skin conditions from hard water, this will be your best bet. Just be prepared: Installing a water softener can be expensive!
- INSTALL A SHOWER FILTER: This shower-head attachment likewise strains much of the mineral and metal content from your water. A good, thrifty alternative to a water softener, this can make your shower a pleasure again!
“This simple shower filter attachment works hard to strip harmful metals and minerals from hard water”
- RINSE WITH BOTTLED OR FILTERED WATER: You may be reluctant about piling up all those plastic bottles. But if you’re having short-term hard-water hair trouble, or traveling to a known hard-water area, this can be a useful temporary hair fix.
- DIY LEMON RINSE: To restore your hair’s natural shine, and strip away hard-water buildup, mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with three cups of water, apply to your hair and scalp after a shampoo, and let sit before rinsing. Use this rinse once or twice per month, and the most noticeable effects of hard water are sure to fade.
- LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER: Applying this after you shampoo will lock in your hair’s natural moisture. It also protects the luster of your tresses...to kick hard-water dullness to the curb!5
HARD WATER DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN HARD HAIR
Hard water, and the havoc it can wreak on your hair, are so common, we’re almost tempted to just grin and bear it.
But just because so many people face hard water hair damage...that’s no reason you should have to put up with it!
So we hope with these helpful suggestions, you can detect and deflect the hair-threatening properties of hard water in your home.
It’s all part of our ongoing commitment here at L’ange…
...to clear away the gossip and noise surrounding real-world hair issues...right to THE ROOT OF THE MATTER!
- “What Is Hard Water? - The Hard Facts | Whirlpool.” Whirlpool Water Solutions, www.whirlpoolwatersolutions.com/learning-center/water-softeners/hard-water-the-hard-facts/.
- Calaor, Jesa Marie. “This Is What REALLY Happens When You Shower With Hard Water.”Allure, Allure Magazine, 25 May 2017, www.allure.com/story/how-to-protect-your-hair-from-hard-water.
- “Hard Water Hair Damage.” HealthGuidance, www.healthguidance.org/entry/15186/1/hard-water-hair-damage.html.
- “Learn How to Test for Hard Water.” The Spruce, TheSpruce, www.thespruce.com/how-to-test-for-hard-water-1824904.
- “8 Ways to Save Your Hair from Hard Water.” Hair Buddha, 24 Feb. 2018, www.hairbuddha.net/save-your-hair-from-hard-water/.