Hardwater.org defines hard water as water that contains large amounts of dissolved minerals (specifically calcium and magnesium).
Is hard water dangerous?
Hard water is not dangerous to drink or use, but it can cause household problems if not addressed.
What are some side effects of hard water?
- Soap scum
- Food can look and taste differently (compared to soft water)
- Prematurely rusted and clogged pipes
- Dry skin
- Discoloration of white clothes
How does hard water affect the hair?
Hard water can leave layers of calcium and magnesium on your hair and scalp and can leave them feeling: dry, brittle, hard, dull, brassy, heavy, lifeless, flaky and nasty. I found that when I washed my hair in a place with hard water or used hard water in my moisturizing leave-in, no matter how hard I tried, my hair felt dry and I found lots of little broken hairs that were not there before.
How can I find out if I have hard water?
There are several ways to determine if you have hard water.
- The easiest way and cheapest way is to call your water provider and ask if you have hard water or not.
- You can also buy a water testing kit.
- You can try looking at hard water maps and see if you region has a lot of hard water. Below is an example of a hard water map
- Or, you can just look at your pipes and shower and see if you have a lot of soap scum.
How do I remove hard water buildup from my hair?
If you have hard water, it is best to remove the buildup it can cause on your hair with a synthetic detergent( primarily one with sulfates). Although I would not normally recommend using sulfate because they can be too stripping, sulfates are effective at removing hard water buildup. Unlike soaps, which can combine with the hard water and produce soap scum, synthetic detergents clean the hair well.
When I was staying with a friend with hard water, I found that clarifying my hair once a month with a clarifying shampoo (containing a sulfate), helped to bring my hair back to life. Don't overdo it with the sulfate shampooing and you should be fine.
How to prevent hard water buildup on my hair?
If you have hard water and are not planning on buying a water filter system, the best you can do is limit exposure to the water as much as possible. When mixing your leave-in, try to use filtered/bottled water in lieu of tap water. Or, if you like to spritz your hair with water, try using filtered/bottled water instead.
Any final words?
Although having hard water is not the end of the world, a large majority of people in the US have hard water, it can affect the way your hair looks and the way your hair products work. It can cause you to believe that you have protein overload (a lot of the symptoms are similar) , make a product that may work for your hair (if you had soft water) not work, or make your favorite product stop working.
If you are constantly feeling that your hair is dry and brittle and keeps breaking and you have done everything you can imagine- such as: remove your protein, change products, change shampoo, change conditioner, alter your leave-in recipe, cowash more frequently, and etc.- and nothing seems to work, chances are you have hard water.