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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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood