Hard Water Is A Thing, And It Could Be Doing Your Curls A Disservice
Beauty & Fashion

Hard Water Is A Thing, And It Could Be Doing Your Curls A Disservice

Ahh, water! The one thing we need to survive and the only thing that fully hydrates our hair. But did you know not all water is the same? Considering the different water types, hard water is talked about the most in the curly/natural hair community, as it’s doing our curls a royal disservice. By definition, hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can have damaging effects on your hair.

Have you moved to a new state or country recently, and you noticed a difference in your hair even though you have been doing the same routine as before? The first thing most people attribute the change to is their environment, and in most cases, the water is the culprit. Myself included.

As someone who moved from Colorado, where you could drink the water out the faucets, to Atlanta, where filtered water is what you should drink and use. Over time I started noticing a tremendous amount of change in my hair! My hair went from being full, moisturized, and able to easily retain length to now being frizzy with increased shedding combined with a dry and itchy scalp.

I freaked out and had no idea the cause because my routine and products were the same, which made me consider if the water was why I was seeing such a change in my hair.

The effects hard water may have on your hair:

When you wash your hair with hard water, the minerals in the water can form a buildup on your scalp and hair. It can also create a barrier that prevents haircare products, such as shampoos and conditioners, from effectively penetrating the hair shaft, leading to reduced efficacy of these products. Hard water can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and frizzy. The high amount of minerals in hard water can disrupt the natural pH balance of your scalp and hair, which can lead to dryness, frizz, and increased porosity of the hair shaft.

If you have color-treated kinky or coarse hair, hard water can cause your color to fade more quickly. The minerals in hard water can strip the color molecules from your hair strands, causing your hair color to become dull and faded and reducing the longevity of your hair color. Hard water can also irritate your scalp. The minerals in hard water can create a film on your scalp that can clog hair follicles and lead to issues such as dryness, itchiness, and dandruff.

The best hard water solutions for natural hair:

First things first, do a hard water test to determine if you actually have hard water. It's recommended that you have one done by a professional, but if you want to do it by yourself, Amazon has options for you to choose from.

1. Install a showerhead water filter.

After the test, the next best option would be to grab a water filter showerhead and replace yours. Some people opt for a water softener system installation, but a showerhead filter can be a much more affordable DIY alternative to removing some of the minerals found in your hard water at a more cost-effective price point. The water filter will help to reduce the amount of minerals getting on your hair when you wash your hair.

2. Use a chelating or clarifying shampoo.

The help of a new showerhead filter combined with washing your hair once a week with a chelating or a clarifying shampoo should allow you to start to notice a real difference. Although clarifying shampoos are stronger than washing your hair with a regular shampoo, a chelating shampoo is considered to be stronger than that in its ability to remove buildup and residue on the scalp and hair that goes beyond the surface.

Some naturals opt for a once-a-month clarifying wash, but it can be done as often as once a week if needed. For chelating shampoos, start off with once-a-week washes, but if you find the frequency is too abrasive, use could be scaled back to once a month. For product recommendations, check out InStyle's "The 5 Best Clarifying Shampoos for Natural Hair."

3. Do an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Apple cider vinegar is known for its multiple uses, acting as a naturally acidic hair rinse is one of them. The reason it works so well is that acidic ingredients are effective in counteracting the pH imbalance created by the hard water. You can go the DIY route by mixing one part ACV with five parts water to create the rinse. After that, apply the solution to your scalp, massaging the mixture there and working it down the hair shaft, paying attention to your scalp and ends. Rinse your hair after five minutes and resume your wash day routine, following the rinse with your preferred conditioner.

Hard water can have detrimental effects on your hair, including mineral buildup, dryness, frizz, color fading, scalp irritation, and reduced efficacy of haircare products. If you have hard water in your area, using a water filter to soften your water and the right products can help mitigate these effects and help get your hair back to a place you're familiar with.

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Featured image by Sofia Zhuravets/Getty Images



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