We all experience a “bad hair day” once in a while. But if it seems that you’re frequently battling with your hair it may be a bigger problem than humidity, products or simply needing a trim. The problem may in fact be the water you are washing in.
If you suffer from dry, uncomfortable skin and listless hair, it’s worth checking if you live in a hard water area. Every country has areas with a significantly hard water supply, and washing with this water every day can take its toll on your skin and hair. In fact, hard water can damage your hair and skin when you wash with it.
Did you know that over 85% of the U.S. population is bathing in hard water?
Washing Your Hair with Hard Water
Just as hard water can affect the skin on your body, so it can also have an impact on your scalp.
The scalp needs as much hydration as the rest of the body’s skin, and hard water can block pores and absorb natural oils here too.
Hair can block the porosity of the skin on your scalp, so washing it with hard water will exacerbate any dry scalp conditions.
Symptoms include flaky skin and some degree of irritation.
Also, your hair itself may appear flat and lifeless and feel rough because the hard water erodes its elasticity and lifts the cuticles.
While hard water is O.K. for drinking, it can cause problems for your hair, scalp, and skin.
Problems from Hard Water include:
- Hair that feels dry, lacking body and shine
- Hair that is resistant to color or perming
- Dandruff or eczema of the scalp
- Dry, flaky skin
- Thinning hair
- Permanent hair loss
- Colors fading too quickly
- Perms appearing to fall out
- Discoloration or darkening of hair
- Hair lacks body and shine
Dirty-looking water likely contains elements that are detrimental to your hair and skin’s condition.
How Your Water Affects Your Hair
The water you use to wash your hair, scalp, and skin comes from one of two sources:
If your water comes from the ground, it is either from your own well or from a local treatment plant that gets water from wells pumping water from the ground. The source of groundwater is from rain passing through aquifers, which are layers of minerals in the soil. The acidity (pH below 7) of the rain increases the dissolving effect of minerals. These dissolved solids are found in the water when pumped above the ground and used to bathe.
If your water comes from a treatment plant that derives water from a surface source, the water comes from either a river or a lake. Surface water usually contains fewer minerals because the water has not filtered down through the mineral layers. However, increasing populations are polluting the water causing additional bacteria growth. As a result, the treatment plants must add more chlorine to kill bacteria and then add lime (a calcium compound) to help control the chlorine levels.
Water hardness level is determined by the level of calcium that is in the water found naturally from the ground or put into the water by the treatment plant.
While calcium is the element that determines the hardness of water, there are many other elements in the water that affect the texture, volume, shine, control and health of hair. These can include iron, copper, magnesium, silica, and lead.
wSo How Do All These Added Elements Affect Our Hair?
Calcium leaves the hair feeling dry and weighted down. It can even cause perms to appear to relax. Calcium builds up on the scalp causing flaking which gives the appearance of dandruff.
Ever feel that your blonde is turning brassy? That’s the iron in your water. Iron can cause dark hair to tint darker and blonde hair to appear orange. It can also leave hair feeling dry, brittle and weighed down. Iron can block perms and color from properly processing.
Another mineral found in water that can discolor hair is Copper. Blonde hair can turn greenish and dark hair becomes darker. Like Iron, Copper can weigh hair down and cause dryness. Copper can also inhibit the proper processing of perms, color and relaxers.
Dull, lackluster hair can be blamed on Magnesium. It can also cause hair to appear weighed down.
Silica can cause dandruff-like symptoms of flaking. When silica builds up it can choke the hair follicle causing hair to fall out.
Lead causes hair to feel dry and brittle; it can prevent the proper processing of perms, color, and relaxers.
Active chlorine in our hair can cause it to feel gummy when wet and straw-like when dry. Chlorine can damage the cuticle and proteins of hair. As an oxidizer, chlorine can cause the air and sun to oxidize hair and worsen the conditions of the above.