What is Hard Water?
Contrary to what it sounds like, hard water isn’t ice or snow! Hard water is water that is high in mineral content. Even though most of us get our water from turning on a tap (or from bottles!), we should never forget that all water originates from surface water sources such as lakes, rivers, or oceans, or saturated groundwater zones located underneath the surface of the land.
Hard water has been exposed in some way to limestone, chalk, or gypsum deposits, all of which are high in calcium, magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates, and sulfates. While these minerals may have some health benefits for our bodies, they aren’t the best thing for our hair.
How Does Hard Water Affect Your Hair?
Hard water is no fun! It causes even the sudsiest shampoos, soaps, and detergents to be flat and latherless, making cleaning stuff more difficult. But the lack of foam and bubbles aren’t the main reasons people prefer to avoid washing their bodies, clothes, and hair with hard water.
The real reason that hard water gets a bad rap is that it leaves behind mineral deposits and build-up on surfaces, such as the scalp. It also weighs down your hair, leaving it flat and lifeless and feeling dry and brittle to the touch.
Hard water is also known to wreak havoc on dyed or bleached hair, contributing to discoloration and accelerated fading.
What Can You Do to Avoid Hard Water’s Damaging Effects?
The water provided in our homes comes from the resources available in our cities and towns. We don’t have a lot of say in the matter, and unless we are willing to petition the powers that be to treat our water at the source, we’re stuck with what we get.
But there are a few simple tricks you can do to soften the water you use to wash your hair without fighting against your municipality or spending a fortune:
- Boil it first.
Boiling removes calcium, resulting in softer water.
- Install a showerhead with a water-softening filter.
An activated carbon filter can help remove chlorine, minerals, and other substances.
- Use vinegar to cut down on build-up in faucet heads, showerheads, and pipes.
- Use soaps and shampoos that are specially formulated to combat the minerals and chlorine in hard water.
Hard Water Isn’t the Hardest Thing to Deal With
Hard water is one of hair’s little inconveniences; if it’s the worst thing you’re dealing with, then you’re not doing too bad.
Make up for hard water’s harshness and damaging effects by investing in high-quality hair conditioners and moisturizing leave-in creams, and switch around your shampoos to remove excess mineral buildup.