While finding products that are specific to your hair type, curl, volume and color is beneficial to your hair care routine, there is another important factor in good hair days: your water type. There are two types of water, hard or soft, which are related to the density and amount of minerals in the water. For hard water, according to Ted Gibson, the famous barber and salon owner, this means “water that is high in sulfates and minerals [it] this makes it tough on the hair.” The more calcium and magnesium (think iron, copper, sodium and lime) the harder the water – and this can have a huge impact on your hair’s overall health.
As it turns out, no matter how beneficial your product range, mineral-rich water or hard water can have side effects (more on that later) on your hair, which means you can still have dry and frizzy hair. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps if you live in a hard water area (and yes, certain parts of the country have harder water than others).
Ahead of the event, TZR spoke to top hairstylists and trichologists to learn about the harmful effects of hard water, ways to prevent and treat the damage, and the best product recommendations to keep your hair healthy and manageable.
This article originally appeared on thezoereport.com
#1: What does hard water do to hair?
With the excess amount of minerals, hard water tends to leave hair crunchy to the touch because the minerals stick to the hair as they evaporate. Essentially, when hair is wet, minerals from hard water penetrate the strands and crystallize as your hair dries. The crystallization then forms a cast that prevents moisture from entering or leaving your hair – leading to dryness, tangles and breakage.
Although all hair types can be damaged by hard water, it is particularly damaging to porous hair (types 3 and 4) as hair is already prone to dryness and frizz, which allows minerals to penetrate deeper into the hair structure. This also applies to colored and chemically treated hair: hard water can lead to premature color fading, oiliness and weigh down the hair, leaving it looking limp.
#2: How to tell if your hair is affected by hard water
When you notice water buildup on your sink faucet, dishes, and showerhead, what you are actually seeing is crystallization of the mineral residue from hard water. The minerals also tend to accumulate. If your water pressure in your sinks or shower is low, it is also a good sign that you have hard water.
When washing your hair, be careful how you apply your shampoo. If it takes a long time to froth and spread, you may have hard water. Or if your conditioner is leaving your hair feeling dry and tangled, that could be another sign that you’re dealing with hard water. In terms of how your hair might look, Gibson says hard water can cause greasy hair that’s harder to clean, dull hair with little shine, frizzy hair from the mineral build-up, and clogged follicles and pores that block product penetration could lead to irritation.
#3: What happens when you don’t address hard water for your hair?
“Leaving hard water build-up untreated can lead to hair loss and affect hair color results, ability to lighten hair and hair [can] Shine is lacking and dull, and styling can be a challenge without lots of tools or heat,” says Min Kim, Colorist and L’Oréal Professionnel US and Global Ambassador. That means finding a hair care regimen to prevent and treat hard water damage is paramount to keeping your hair healthy and manageable, no matter how you style or process it.
#4: What Products Minimize Hard Water Damage?
“Hard water leaves a film or residue on the hair, making it feel dry and brittle and creating a lot of build-up,” says Bianca Garcia, hairstylist at Bumble and Bumble. To mitigate the most damage, invest in a shower filter. Whether you’re completely replacing your showerhead or adding a filter to your current one, it will help filter out minerals like magnesium and calcium, the two main causes of dry and brittle hair, and reduce the buildup on strands.
Before the shampoo
Applying a hair treatment before washing your hair acts as an armor against hard water and reduces mineral penetration into the hair fiber. Pre-shampoos remove build-up and promote a balanced scalp before your shampoo sinks in, helping you achieve a thorough cleanse.
Clarify the hair
As a good rule of thumb, Cyd Charisse, Hairstory Hairstylist, recommends conditioning your hair once or twice a week. Clarifying shampoos have ingredients like tetrasodium EDTA or EDTA complex that bind to the metals and minerals in the water. Stronger than traditional shampoo, it not only cleanses the scalp but also detoxifies it from previous damage.
Are you ready to free your hair from hard water problems? Try some of the expert-recommended products below.
#5: Jolie the filtered showerhead
To filter the minerals in hard water that can damage your hair, install the Jolie showerhead as the first step to healthier hair.
#6: Aceit de Moscow
To loosen buildup and nourish your hair and scalp, this pre-shampoo oil is great for a relaxing scalp massage before stepping into the shower.
#7: Repairing Deep Conditioning Masque
This mask is both affordable and ultra-hydrating to fix extra dry strands.
#8th: Christophe Robin Shade Variation Hair Mask – Baby Blonde
Accentuating your hair, this blonde is particularly prone to hard water build-up. Keep your color bright and protected with a weekly color mask specially formulated to combat yellow tones and brassiness.
#9: Kevin Murphy Maxi Wash. Detox shampoo for hair damage
Enriched with Tea Tree, Thyme and Rosemary, this is a great detoxifying shampoo that gently removes unwanted product and mineral buildup from hair without stripping it of its natural oils.
#10: Briogeo Farewell Frizz Smoothing Conditioner
Frizz is no match for this moisturizing conditioner, which uses a blend of rosehip, argan and coconut oils to keep unruly hair smooth and supple.
#11: Lola Vie Perfecting Leave-In Conditioner
If you’re struggling with dry, damaged hair or are a curly-haired girl looking for extra moisture, this chia seed-rich formula repairs damaged strands and leaves your texture looking gorgeous.