Many of us have heard the terms “soft water” and “hard water” before without much thought as to what they mean or why it even matters. Hard water is characterized as water that contains high levels of minerals, while soft water contains a lesser amount.
The water type that typically causes the most trouble is hard water due to the fact that those high mineral levels can cause build-up and film not only on your shower head, but on your skin and hair as well. With that being said, what exactly makes hard water bad for your hair and how do you prevent it?
What is Hard Water
Hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals and metals, mainly calcium and magnesium but also includes iron, copper, silica, lead and manganese.
If you’re unsure of whether or not your water is hard or soft, grab an empty water bottle, fill it 2/3 of the way with water and add a few drops of dish soap. Put the cap on the bottle and shake it up; if a lot of bubbles form then your water is soft. Also, if you find that your water leaves soap scum in your tub, sink or on the dishes then your water may be hard.
Why it’s Bad for Natural Hair
The minerals that are found in water can stick to the hair shaft and cause build up which can seal moisture out of the hair and give it a dull, almost grayish appearance. The build-up can also cause the strands to become slightly sticky or tacky, causing tension when the hair is combed or brushed.
Hard water build up basically blocks the hair from getting the nutrients and moisture that it needs to remain healthy, causing it to become weak, brittle, and eventually causes it to break off. The heavy deposit of minerals also causes build-up on the scalp, which may interfere with healthy hair growth.
What to Do if You Have Hard Water
If you’ve found that you have hard water, there are a few things that you should start doing and consider buying. First thing’s first, buy a shower filter. Shower filters usually go for about $70-100 but believe me, it’s worth it in the long run.
You should also start shampooing your hair, especially if you tend to shy away from shampoos or cleansers. Ridding your hair of all traces of mineral build-up can really only be done through shampooing or doing acid-based rinses (vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, etc.). If you’re worried about sulfates, try to find an all-natural alternative such as castile soap or black soap.
The last thing that should be considered is investing in a water softener for your household. This only pertains to those who are in a home that they own, as it is a permanent plumbing fixture.
Do you have hard water in your home?