Does your hair feel coarse and rough even after applying intensive conditioner? If you long for silky locks, the answer might not be in the products you’re using, it could be in your water. Showering in hard or soft water could make all the difference.
Soft water and hair
In the UK, over 60 per cent of households have hard water supplied to their homes. Water from the South East and the Midlands is particularly hard because of its high mineral content. In these areas, rainwater is filtered from the ground through layers such as limestone, chalk and dolomite. This increases the levels of calcium and magnesium in the water supply and makes it hard.
Hard water dries your hair out. Soft water doesn’t have this drying effect, meaning if you travel from a place of hard water to a place of soft water, you will find your hair feels softer after being washed.
Hard water dries your hair
Many people find washing their hair with hard water makes it look strangely greasy and limp but with rough, dry roots. This is because the calcium and magnesium found in hard water settles on your roots and scalp when you wash your hair. These minerals create a coating on your hair shafts, stopping shampoos and conditioners from penetrating your hair cuticle.
Washing products are also affected by hard water as it prevents them from producing the thick, soapy lather needed to thoroughly cleanse hair. Your roots become dry and brittle and the body of your hair builds up natural oils, making it greasy. Styling also becomes a problem when your hair is clogged with hard water minerals. If you’re using straighteners or curling tongs, you may also use lots of product to make your look stay.
Expensive products won’t combat the problem
Many people buy expensive products, such as clarifying shampoos, to counter the effects of hard water. As you use these products, your hair becomes clogged with excessive oils as the buildup of hard water minerals stops your hair absorbing the shampoo and conditioner. Your hair then starts to look lifeless and loses its natural, healthy shine.
One suggestion has been to use bottled water or rain water to rinse your hair after washing. This isn’t a long term fix as it can be extremely costly and time consuming. Using bottled water also means a considerable amount of waste from plastic bottles.
Soft hair for life with soft water – how to make hard water soft for washing hair
If you live in a hard water area, it may seem there is no choice but to live with the damaging effects it has on your hair – but there is a way you can make hard water soft for washing your hair. Using a water softener removes the minerals that harden the water in your area. An ion-exchange resin traps calcium and magnesium, leaving your household with pure, softened water. By removing calcium in your water supply, soft water changes the texture of your hair, making it soft and shiny.
Soft water also saves you money by making your shampoos and conditioners create a richer and thicker lather. This makes it easier to cleanse your hair follicles while washing, so you can use less products.