Hard Water Hair Damage

Our hair is under constant siege from the elements and as time goes on we seem to find more things that will damage it. Pollution has long been a problem and now we have things like central heating and air conditioning that can dry it out. The water we use can also have an effect and if it is hard water there will be chemicals added that will cause havoc. At best it will dry the hair out but the worst case scenario is that it will change the color.

For a long time hard water has been blamed for damage to hair. It normally causes the hair to be dry and straw like plus there will be split ends that cannot be repaired. If you are on holiday in an area that has hard water you will notice the difference but at least you can go home and sort the problem out, but for those who live there it is a never ending problem.

About 85% of residents in the United States have to wash their hair in hard water. The hair will not react in the same way as it will when washed in soft water. It is likely that it will be hard to control and even the best of hair products will not be able to deal with it. As well as not being manageable the shampoo and conditioner will not be as effective and you will be in the vicious circle of having to wash your hair more often, which will make it less manageable which will mean you have to wash it more often.

If you live in an area with hard water it will be best to buy hair treatment products that are specially designed to deal with it. They are more expensive but they work and will save you a fortune on expensive treatments in the future. Good hotels should provide these for guests but it cannot be guaranteed that they will. Depending on how often you go or how long you will be there it will be worth buying them yourself as so much of the country is affected.

Chlorine is good for the swimming pool and helps to kill bacteria that could be damaging to humans but there is no need to have as much in the household water.

What Treatment to Use

Before you start with treating your hair you could try to prevent the problem altogether. If you rinse rain water through a coffee filter often enough it should be fine to use. This is time consuming and you cannot be sure that you have managed to remove all of the impurities. One you have washed your hair rinsing it with lemon or vinegar will help treat it. The obvious downside to this is that you will keep the smell for some time. Lemon is not too bad but a lot of people will not like the idea of smelling like a fast food takeaway.

Once you are living in an area there will be ways of finding out what type of water you have. There will be no need for your supplier to give you wrong information as there are no penalties for them if they provide this. You will soon know once you move into the house as the water can clog the shower and leave brown rings around the toilet bowl.

Other Problems

If you have your hair colored or premed it may seem like a waste of money. Once you get home and wash it in hard water the color can change, the shine will be lost and there will be very few curls left. Eczema is prevalent in people who have to use hard water but there are plenty of treatments that can improve the water. It is not too expensive to get a test carried out. This should determine what chemicals are present and it’s possible that you can have work carried out that will lead to you getting more purified water. This will mainly be in the form of having a filter fitted to the shower head. This should cost in the region of $30 and will save so much money as you will no longer have to buy specialist products.

As well as chlorine there are a number of other chemicals that can be found and they will all cause their own problems. They are calcium, iron, copper magnesium, silica and lead. The way they manage to affect the hair is through different charges. The hair, skin and scalp are negative while the minerals have a positive charge. This means that they are attracted to the hair and this is when the problem starts.

What Mineral Has What Effect?

  • Calcium makes the hair seem heavy and this is why perms seem to drop. It is also hard to rinse out and this is why the scalp often seems flaky. It is not just bits of skin that are coming loose but the calcium slowly becoming unstuck.
  • Iron leaves it feeling brittle and dry. Split ends appear and the hair will need to be trimmed on a regular basis.
  • The discoloration comes from copper and it can also cause discoloration and pull down curls.
  • Magnesium seems to combine all the problems of the others. It makes curls drop, leaves the hair dry and takes away the shine.

What Will Help?

Simply by using vitamins C and E you should see a big difference in the condition and style of your hair. They will be able to combat all the problems that you are experiencing as well as making your hair look clean and fresh. Firstly they will take out all the harmful chemicals and are able to work on the dryness. Once they have gone, the hair should show signs of recovery and begin to look brighter. They will work on the discoloration and slowly bring your hair back to its natural color.

Stopping the scalp flaking will be one of the symptoms that you will want to stop as soon as possible. Not only does it look unsightly having particles of white all over your shoulder and back, but it is also very uncomfortable. Many people think this is a symptom of not washing hair and that it is dirty but this is not the case.

Hard water makes it difficult to wash any of the products you need to use out of your hair. If you have the time it will be possible to use filtered water but this can be expensive and time consuming. It also means that it is not possible to wash your hair at the same time as taking a shower unless you put in a lot of preparation beforehand. By taking a couple of bottles of filtered water in with you it can be rinsed. The downside is that if you do not provide yourself with enough time to rinse completely you either have to leave shampoo or conditioner in your hair or finish off with hard water. If you do this it will mean you will still all have all the problems mentioned.

It seems strange to think that so much damage can be caused by simply having hard water, but unless you are in the position of having to use it, you cannot fully appreciate how difficult it will be to have to deal with the consequences.

Comments 6
  1. Informative, except that it doesn't tell you what product to buy to help hair that is washed with hard water!! My daughter and I both have been experiencing hair problems since moving into our home with hard water 4 years ago. We could use help and name of product to buy to help.

  2. I agree 10000% percent! Been living in a house for years, and did not realize until recently that it was the hard water doing damage to my hair. I have very thick hair, and just thought it was my hair texture changing to coarse, but after getting my hair done at the beauty parlour I noticed my hair was softer until a couple days later when I would wash it at home and it turned to straw again. Hard water is terrible on everything… hair, skin, clothes… anything you wash. Thanks for the great article confirming my theory.

  3. Great info! I have chronic dry, straw like ends of my hair and have huge amounts of iron in my water. Good tip about the filter at the shower head! Defiantly going to get one.

  4. I'd like to know which is the best shower head/filter combo that would help the issue. I have a water conditioning system in the house, but my daughter still complains that her hair is damaged. She does however color her hair several times a year. She is a cosmetologist and thinks she knows all the answers regarding hair damage. 🙁

  5. A correction should be made as to rinsing with vinegar. It does NOT leave hair smelling stinky or vinegary. Once your hair dries, it is gone. I have used it for years after applying and checking it out long ago. Plus it has a soft feel and a great shine!

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