How To Protect Your Hair From Hard Water

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan
by Charushila B

Hair thinning is a common issue around the world. More often, we either change our shampoo or purchase hair care products with the hope of reducing hair fall. But when did we pause to consider the quality of water we use to wash our hair?

Using hard water (water with excess calcium, magnesium, and iron) can weaken your hair and cause temporary hair loss. But thankfully, the effects of hard water on hair can be reversed. Keep reading to know why hard water is bad for your hair and what you can do to restore your hair health.

What Is Hard Water And What Are Its Effects On Hair?

All types of water contain minerals. But hard water contains an excess of them. Researchers state that hard water contains 212.5 ppm of CaCO3 while soft water contains only 10 ppm of CaCO3 (1). Moreover, soap or shampoo do not lather well in hard water. The bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates of calcium and magnesium combine with soap and form salt precipitates. These can lead to the following hair issues:

  • Greasy hair: Your hair will feel greasy and unclean due to the excessive mineral deposits that stick to the hair strands.
  • Dull hair: These mineral deposits can make your hair look dull. They get trapped in the hair shaft and reduce hair shine.
  • Rough and frizzy hair: The mineral deposits can make your hair rough and frizzy.
  • Clogged pores: The minerals get deposited on the scalp and lead to clogged pores. They also can block the natural sebum. As a result, your hair starts to look dry and lifeless. Mineral deposits on the scalp also lead to scalp infections, dandruff, and scalp sensitivity.
  • Split ends: The mineral deposits on the scalp and the hair shaft also lead to split ends.

The most distressing side effect of hard water could be hair loss. Why would you lose so much hair? Let us understand the same in the following section.

The Science Behind Hard Water And Hair Fall

Hard water contains several minerals and oxidizers like copper, magnesium, calcium, and iron. These minerals and oxidizers are positively charged while the hair is negatively charged. A positively charged oxidizer or mineral and negatively charged hair attract each other. This phenomenon reduces hair strength and leads to hair fall.

Interestingly, while certain research studies state that hard water could reduce hair’s tensile strength, another study shows no relationship between hard water and hair tensile strength or elasticity (1), (2). However, various studies link hard water to skin diseases and irritation (3), (4). Therefore, if you live in an area with hard water, you will see its effects on your hair and skin. It also could cause hair loss. But would this hair loss be permanent? Let us understand the same in the following section.

Does Hard Water Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

Hard water only causes temporary hair loss (also known as hair shedding). You can reduce this hair shedding by simply changing the water you use to wash your hair. If that is not possible, there are other ways you can reduce the mineral content in hard water and decrease your hair loss.

How To Reverse Hair Loss Due To Hard Water? 

  • Install A Water Softening System

A water softening system replaces the calcium and magnesium ions in hard water with sodium ions. Install a water softener so that you can directly use tap water to wash your hair.

  • Use A Shower Filter
    A shower filter improves water quality by filtering out the excessive minerals in the water. It also reduces water hardness. It is an affordable device and can be detached from the shower head to be cleaned. Replace the filter every six months. 
  • Use A Chelating Shampoo

Chelating shampoos help remove all traces of dirt, mineral deposits, and product build-up. If you live in an area with hard water, it is always a good idea to use a chelating shampoo instead of a regular one to remove mineral build-up. Chelating shampoos also keep your scalp and hair cleansed, light, and breathable.

  • Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar helps reduce mineral build-up. You can mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with one mug of water. Rinse your hair with it to get rid of the mineral deposits.

  • Use Lemon Rinse

Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with a mug of water. Use this water to give your hair a final rinse before towel drying your hair. Use this rinse after you shampoo and condition your hair.

  • Use A Hair Mask

Use a deep conditioning hair mask once a week to keep your hair healthy. You can make a hair mask with avocado or mix coconut oil and rosehip oil. Apply the mask to your scalp and hair strands. Wash the mask off after 45 minutes with a chelating shampoo (or use a shower filter if you want to use a mild shampoo).  

Conclusion

Excess minerals in water are harmful to your hair. They can make your hair dull, rough, and more prone to shedding. If you live in an area with hard water, you can follow the tips mentioned above. You will see a visible reduction in hair fall. Your hair also would be shinier and softer. 

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Hard water Vs. soft water – which is better for your hair?

Soft water is better for hair. Hard water contains excess calcium, magnesium, and iron. Their positive charge attracts hair (which is negatively charged) and results in hair shedding. Mineral deposits in hard water also make the hair dull, rough, and dry.

Can hard water cause hair thinning?

Yes, hard water can cause hair thinning. It can block the scalp pores. Its positively charged minerals can also attract negatively charged hair and cause hair thinning.

Does hard water make your hair curly?

Hard water makes your hair messy. Your hair will feel greasy, no matter how many times you wash it. Hard water will dry up the hair strands and make hair look frizzy and lifeless.

Which shampoo is best for hard water?

A chelating shampoo is best for hard water. Chelating shampoos help remove mineral deposits, dirt, and product build-up.

4 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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