There is nothing special about water, right? Well, as a growing body of research has shown, there are different types of water that depending on their content can affect your body, skin, and hair differently. You may be unaware of how hard water affects your hair, but it isn’t pretty.
Let’s find out how hard water scientifically affects natural hair and give you solutions on how to deal with this mineral rich water.
What is the difference between ‘hard’ & ‘soft’ water?
Have you ever wondered what these kinds of water are? What separates different kinds of water is the mineral content in the water itself. For example, distilled water is pure H20. It has no other particulates in it and as a result it is excellent for specific use like in drinks or in industry. Soft water is what the minority of people deal with, and it has a low mineral content that minimally affects our hair and skin. The difference between hard and soft water is that the former has the highest levels of minerals out of all three. Now, these minerals aren’t all bad. There are reported health benefits with these minerals when we drink them. However, the reverse is that this type of water is bad for our skin and especially for our hair.
What kinds of minerals are in the water? Typically, this water will have high amounts of calcium and magnesium. The minerals come from the water percolating through the soil and making its way through limestone and chalk before being sucked up by wells and drank by us. If you want to know if your water is hard, then start a bath and soap up a part of your body. If the soap from your body leads to suds, then your water is soft. If there is lack of suds, then the water is mineral rich.
What hard, mineral rich water does to your hair?
There are several confirmed affects of this water on your hair. The first is that it makes your hair appear dry and dull. Due to the particulates in the water, it can be a challenge to get any degree of natural shine out of your hair. In addition, it can leave your hair unusually dry. While the minerals in the water may be good to drink, they decrease the effectiveness of shampoos and other natural moisturizers that would otherwise keep your hair healthy.
A second confirmed affect of this water is an increased risk of hair breakage. The minerals in the water can irritate and even damage the hair follicles, increasing the chances of split ends and other damage that will occur after frequent rinsing with hard, mineral rich water.
A third confirmed affect is that this water makes it easier for debris material from your shampoo to cling onto your hair. Typically, this material is good for your hair as it is applied and then washed away. However, with this kind of water, the shampoo particulates can sometimes stay, causing your hair to become chemically damaged over time.
Along with these confirmed affects, there are countless other reports from both men and women who have long hair and who use this water. For example, people report having their hair more easily tangle with mineral rich water making it more of a pain to brush and keep looking good. Gradually, the water makes the problem worse.
Who has to deal with hard water?
In The United States, it is estimated that about 85% of Americans live with either hard or very hard ratings for their water. Soft and only moderately hard occur in places like the Great Lakes, New England, South Atlantic Coast, Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, and the rivers of the Tennessee. If you live anywhere else in the country, then expect hard, mineral rich water. If you are in a part of the country that has hard or very hard rating, then it may not be as bad as you think. Your water treatment plant may have a softening agent added or your hair may be resilient to the minerals in the water.
What science has to say: Where mineral rich water goes in your hair follicles?
The calcium and magnesium in mineral rich water will form droplets at the edges of your cuticles in every hair strand. Depositing minerals into these edges when they dry, the hair follicle becomes more rigid and less plastic, meaning that it will less effectively work with you when you try to style your hair. Breaking the bonds to treat hair treated with higher mineral content water requires nearly 5% more stress to break and set. Wet detangling, especially for curly hair, is among the most affected by mineral rich water.
What can I do to get rid of high mineral content in water?
The easiest thing to do is to buy a special filter for your showerhead. In addition, some people will also elect to install a filter for their sink as this kind of water can be hard on the skin. Some individuals elect to filter all water entering their house to ensure less damage to pipes and outlets. You can also buy shampoos and conditioners that are designed to fight against high mineral content water.
What are your experiences with hard, mineral rich water? Have you seen any affects on your natural hair and what measures did you take to protect your hair? Feel free to let us know by leaving a comment. Share your story and become a part of this fascinating, if not unsetting topic as well as the broader conversation.