Ways Hard Water is Ruining Your Hairdo
More than 85 percent of American homes have access to hard water — the type of water that contains high levels of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Some telltale signs that hard water runs through your pipes is a greenish color around the bathtub drain, dark rings in the toilet bowl, or difficulty working up a lather with soap, detergent, or toothpaste. Although hard water is generally safe to drink, it can leave the skin feeling rough, dry, or irritated.
Hard Water and Its Effects on Your Hair
Unfortunately, hard water can be just as damaging to the hair, where those high mineral levels are often responsible for excessive dryness, split ends, and discoloration, particularly for color-treated or permed hair. Nothing is more frustrating than paying for a visit to the salon, only to lose the bounce, curl, or even color of your tresses through “hard water” washing at home.
Hair that is washed in hard water tends to be more difficult to control, may feel heavy and lifeless, and may even result in the need for frequent washing, as shampoo may not be as effective on hair washed in hard water. Hard water is also known to cause flaking or eczema of the scalp, or worse, even hair loss.
How to Treat Hair Damaged by Hard Water
While general access to hard water is seldom a matter of choice for most people, there are steps you can take to ensure that your hair doesn’t continue to suffer from the effects of hard water. Installing a water softening system in your home can help control the overall mineral levels in your water, although this option can be costly. An alternative is to purchase an ion exchange filter for your showerhead, which can also help reduce the mineral levels in the water you use to wash your hair.
There are many hair care products and kits designed to combat the effects of hard water on the market today, although these, too, tend to be on the pricier side. A simpler, more economical approach to removing hard water buildup and restoring shine to your hair is to apply an apple cider vinegar rinse, using 2 cups distilled water to 2 tablespoons of vinegar, once or twice a week after shampooing. Even rainwater, collected in a bucket outside on a stormy day and drained through a coffee filter, can be an effective, no-cost alternative to hard water for washing hair.
More than likely, you’re among the majority of Americans affected by the reality of hard water. Fortunately, the good news is that there are simple measures you can take to keep its effects from damaging the overall health of your hair.
Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher living in Austin, Texas. He recommends that readers who wish to get more information about softening hard water.