Most cities in the U.S. have some degree of “water hardness”. (You can check out the approximate “hardness” of the water in your area here.)
And, this hard water may not only mean that you have to clean more soap scum and water stains off of your shower and sink -- it can be damaging to your skin and hair, too.
Below, we will cover just what hard water is, how it can have negative effects on your hair, if hard water can lead to hair loss, and 5 ways to help reduce these unwanted hair effects.
Hard water doesn’t really feel different when you are using it, although some people may notice a bit of a “film” after showering in a hard water shower.
Hard water is water that has higher levels of minerals, like calcium and magnesium. These minerals get into water which comes from underground in reservoirs, as the water percolates through materials like limestone or chalk.
These minerals may form a film, that shows up as white or discolored deposits in your shower, sink, or water-using appliances like your dishwasher. And, after you shower in it, hard water can leave films of these minerals on your hair and skin, too.
When you are showering in hard water, those extra minerals can leave a bit of a film coating the strands of your hair. And, while that may not seem too bad (a hair vitamin, maybe?), a film over your hair means it may not be able to hydrate and moisturize as well as with soft water. The film may essentially “lock out” some of the nourishing and moisturizing elements of your healthy hair care routine and can build up from shower to shower.
Ultimately, this may lead to hair that looks and feels thinner, brittle, tangled, dull, dry, frizzy, or has a brassy or greenish color to it (depending on your hair color).
There is not really evidence that points to hard water causing hair loss, per se. Assuming that when we are talking about hair loss, we are talking about the loss of hair from the hair follicle.
But, what can happen to some people with damaged hair from hard water, is that their hair becomes dryer and more brittle. Brittle, dry hair is prone to breakage, which can happen even towards the top of the head if it gets too extreme. The net result from increased breakage can be that hair looks thinner, or seems to not grow as fast.
Another issue that may develop, is that the skin on the scalp becomes dry and irritated from excess buildup from the hard water mixing with hair products. And, if you are already dealing with signs of hair loss due to other causes like genetics (in the case of male and female pattern hair loss), an irritated scalp is not going to help things.
So, while it is unlikely that you can pin all of your hair loss concerns on your hard water, it is not doing you any favors in the full and healthy hair department and may be leading to more breakage.
You don’t have to just live with hard water if you don’t want to. There are ways that you can fully or moderately reduce the excess minerals dissolved in your water. Below are 5 ways to help moderate the hardness of your water. These solutions range from inexpensive to pricey, so choose an option that works for you and your finances if hard water is an issue you would like to handle.
Installing a full water softening system for your entire home is the most effective way to soften your water, but it is also probably the most expensive option. These systems run all the water entering your home through a system that takes out those excess minerals, leaving all faucets, showerheads, and appliances with a supply of softened water, all of the time.
A shower head water filter is normally a charcoal filter that is much less expensive than a whole-home softening system. These tend to be easy to install on your own, and may do an okay job at softening the water being used in that shower, although it will not be as effective as a home water softening system.
Using a clarifying shampoo can help you handle the mineral buildup on your hair and scalp. And, while it doesn’t fix the root problem, it can help you keep your hair healthier for a relatively inexpensive price. Aim to only use a clarifying shampoo about once a week to remove buildup, as these shampoos may be too stripping for regular use.
Making a quick solution of water plus a little bit of vinegar or citrus juice can help reduce the pH of the water and may help break down some salt and mineral buildup in your hair and on your scalp. This solution can then be used as a final rinsing step after you shower and wash your hair.
This option may seem a little wasteful and expensive, but it may work for some people. Bottled water will be softened water, and, in a pinch, you could use a bottle or two to rinse your hair after washing as the last step in your shower.
If you are dealing with hair thinning or hair loss, it is unlikely that your water is the main culprit (although it may be causing some additional hair problems).
Having healthy hair may consist of a well-rounded approach to hair care which may include softening the water in your home, using nourishing products, living a healthier lifestyle, or talking to a doctor about hair loss treatment options.
Here at Strut Health, we offer prescription science-based hair loss medications for both men and women. For men, we have innovative oral and topical hair loss treatments.
If you want to see if a hair loss prescription is a good fit for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors.
If you are a good fit for treatment, your prescription hair loss medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. If you have questions or concerns during your treatment, our staff and doctors are standing by for free unlimited follow-ups.