If you’ve ever washed your hands and noticed a film on them afterward, this is the result of hard water.
Now, imagine what that’s doing to your hair. The answer? Damage.
That’s because hard water contains a buildup of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. This produces a film on the hair, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate.
As a result, the hair is left dry and prone to breakage. Leave these issues unresolved and it could even lead to hair loss.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to counteract these effects. Keep reading to learn about these hair-saving techniques.
While hard water itself isn’t harmful, there are some downsides when it comes to the hair and skin.
At the end of the study, the hair from the hard water samples had decreased in thickness, in addition to having a ruffled appearance.
Additional hair symptoms you may experience from washing your hair in hard water include:
Some people have even experienced hair loss as a result of hair breakage.
Short-term issues may turn into long-term problems
“These short-term issues will turn into long-term problems that will inevitably affect healthy hair growth as well,” explains master hairstylist Marshall Lin.
Hard water can even make your hair colorist’s job harder, says Mara Roszak, celebrity hairstylist and salon owner. When the hair is difficult to work with, “this leads to more stress on the hair overall.”
Additionally, Dr. Patrick Angelos, author of “The Science and Art of Hair Restoration,” says that hair loss can occur when hard water is severely affecting the scalp. This, however, is more common in people with eczema or psoriasis.
If you’re looking to bring damaged hair back to life, these techniques should do the trick.
Install a water softener shower head
Soft water is essentially the opposite of hard water. While it contains some minerals, the concentration is nowhere near as high as hard water.
This means that it’s cleaner and healthier. While the best method for purifying your water is to install a water softener in your home, this can run on the expensive side.
A cost-effective alternative is to purchase a water softener shower head.
“These [shower heads] have cartridges that are filled with carbon to remove the minerals before the water touches the hair,” says Martino Cartier, hairstylist and owner of Martino Cartier Salon.
Use a clarifying shampoo
A clarifying shampoo can help to revive hair damaged by hard water, according to Maria Elizabeth, owner of Salon deZen.
“The best way to restore the hair to its former glory is to remove the mineral build up,” Elizabeth says.
Use it at least once a week and choose one “that focuses on this issue and not just removal of styling product buildup,” Elizabeth explains.
Apply a hair mask
Restore moisture and shine into your locks with a nourishing hair mask at least two times per week.
“Make sure you’re massaging well into the scalp and working it through to the tips of your hair,” Lin advises. “Leave masks on for a minimum of 5 minutes.”
You can also soften the hair with a leave-in conditioner. Elizabeth says to choose one that has a low pH. “This will help to close the cuticles back down, locking the moisture in and the minerals out.”
Try a citrus and vinegar rinse
To combat damage from hard water, you must start at the scalp.
“You’ll find that a mixture of water, vinegar, and a citrus juice of some sort is a good natural solution for treatment,” Lin says.
Apple cider vinegar is a good option since it lowers the hair’s pH and contains hair-healthy vitamins, such as vitamins B and C.
Do you only have the option of showering with hard water? The good news is that you can still prevent damage using these hair-washing techniques.
First, start by focusing on the scalp, Cartier says. Whenever you’re not using a clarifying shampoo, choose one that is ideally sulfate-free.
This will help remove excess oil and debris without stripping the hair.
If hair loss is a concern, Dr. Angelos says to rinse hair in the direction of natural growth, “from the crown forward toward the forehead.”
Next, Paul Labrecque, celebrity hairstylist and artistic director at Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, says to make sure the hair is completely rinsed before you add your conditioner.
If you can brave it, Labrecque recommends ending your shower or bath with cold water to seal your cuticles.
Solving hair damage starts right at the source — the water source, that is.
With minerals in hard water leaving your hair limp, brittle, and hard to style, it’s important to take action.
You can eliminate the effects of hard water with a water softener or with some new hair-washing techniques. Either way, your hair will thank you.