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Hard Water Hair Care

If you live in an area with hard water, you may not notice the effects immediately, but you certainly will after a few weeks or months. What kind of water you have depends completely on where you live.

Hard Water Vs. Soft Water

The main difference between hard and soft water is that hard water has a great deal of dissolved minerals with the most common being calcium and magnesium. Hard water may contain a combination of any of the following: magnesium chloride or sulfate, Calcium chloride or sulfate or magnesium bicarbonate in addition to other minerals. Water is termed ‘soft’ when it has less than 60 mg per liter of water and hard is over 121 mg/l. While soft water will produce suds when combined with soap, hard water will produce a film. In addition, while soft water will completely rinse away, leaving you clean, hard water will leave a deposit (due to its minerals) in the form of scale on your shower, drains and even hair. While this water isn’t unhealthy (and in fact it is healthier to drink hard water than soft water due to the added minerals) it can wreak havoc on your hair.

Effects Of Hard Water

Generally if you wash with hard water, your strands will feel weighed down and limp but those aren’t the only effects of hard water on your hair. Hair tends to remain a lot drier, even after doing weekly or even daily moisture or deep conditioning treatments. Despite using hair protectors and protein treatments, hair can also be more prone to breakage. The color will also fade faster and hair will develop tangles much more easily after a shower. If you have recently moved from an area with soft water to one with hard water, you may notice that products or shampoos you used to use no longer work as effectively and chemical treatments (such as perms) may not take as well.

Best Solution

You do have one simple option to help: get a water softener. If you don’t want one for the whole house, there are shower filters that replace your existing showerhead and will filter. They are specifically designed to remove unwanted chemicals (or minerals) and enhance the water’s pH balance. There are a wide range of prices for these showerheads and depending on where you live they can be quite costly. They are the simplest way to care for your hair if you have hard water at your home.

Choose Your Shampoo

Although being able to replace your showerhead with one that softens water is ideal, it is not a possibility for everyone. You should always opt for a chelating shampoo. These shampoos are created in a way that allows them to remove any mineral buildup and even better, prevent the future accumulation. These shampoos accomplish this because they contain chelating agents that bind to the minerals chemically to remove them. You do have to be careful with these shampoos, however, because they can strip your hair of the nutrients it needs as well. When choosing a shampoo, look for the ingredient EDTA. Because of this you should only use them once each week and always follow them with a conditioner that moisturizes intensely.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

If you have buildup, you can make a simple solution at home using apple cider vinegar. Take two cups of warm distilled water and mix in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (but if your hair is longer, double the amounts). Put it in a squeeze bottle or something else that will make it easy to use. Next time you shower, wash your hair normally and then rinse it using your vinegar mixture. Ideally you should do this one to two times a week.