If your hair has been looking dull or feeling a bit dryer than usual lately, the problem may not be with your strands, but rather your shower—or more specifically, your shower’s water. Though often overlooked, “hard water” — that is, water that contains a buildup of minerals — can have a significant impact on the look and feel of your hair, affecting everything from its moisture content to its overall manageability. In other words, it can be a real bummer. Luckily for you though, we recently sat down with our team of in-house hair care experts to uncover the truth about the effects of hard water on our hair, and what exactly we can do to keep it from messing with our precious strands. Here’s what they had to say.
First, what exactly is hard water?
Hard water refers to water that contains dissolving compounds of calcium and magnesium, and even sometimes metallic elements, according to the Water Quality Association. Compared to “soft” water sources like fresh rainwater and filtered bottled water, hard water has a tendency to cause buildup in sinks, bathtubs, and faucets, leave mineral deposits on our dishes and glassware, and can even cause clothes to become stiff and faded after washing. Hard water can also prevent your soap from lathering, thus hindering your ability to cleanse everything from your dishes to your skin. Gross, we know.
How does hard water affect my hair?
As you might have already assumed after reading that last paragraph, the biggest problem facing those with hard water is the buildup it can leave behind on both our hair and our scalps. The buildup of excess minerals can not only weight your hair down, making it look flat and lifeless, but can also make your strands feel drier and more brittle, which we all know can only lead to one thing: damage (and yes, frizz). Hard water is also notorious for interfering with hair color, causing it to become dull, faded, and in some cases, even discolored, while long-term exposure may also cause it to become less manageable (also never a good thing).
So, what can I do to combat this?
If you’re worried that your water at home may be of the ‘hard’ variety, fear not. Our team of MIT-trained scientists has assured us that there are some quick and easy things you can do to adjust the quality of your water (and consequentially, your hair). First, consider installing a filter in your shower. It sounds a bit ‘extra,’ but filtered showerheads are specially designed to cut out all of those gross mineral mixtures, including calcium sulfide, zinc, copper, and chlorine, thus protecting your hair from their damaging effects. For an editor-approved option, we recommend the T3 Source Showerhead.
Not into switching up your showerhead? Try adding our soothe scalp and nourish roots hair goals to your customized formula instead. Not only do they soothe and moisturize the scalp to help promote healthy hair growth, but they also help rid the scalp of buildup and facilitate the transport of key nutrients to the hair, thus ensuring that your strands stay clean, hydrated, and well-nourished. If you live in a hard water area, it’s also strongly recommended that you avoid products that contain sulfates (although, you should probably do that anyway), as they’re not only incredibly harsh and drying but may also react negatively to the minerals coming through your water. Luckily for you, your Function of Beauty formula is free of those too!