Have you ever noticed your hair feeling more dry and brittle after washing it? Are you perhaps struggling with hair thinning or hair loss? There are a number of possible ways to help your hair recover, from various DIY treatments to medication. However, if your water is hard, all that effort might be in vain.
No, hard water doesn't directly cause hair loss, but it can be a major contributing factor due to the mineral buildup, leading to hair weakening and breakage, which might indirectly add to hair loss.
Is Hard Water Bad for your Hair?
According to some studies done during the past decade, hard water can have negative effects on your hair.
Two studies done in 2016 showed that the surface of hair that was treated with hard water had higher mineral buildup and lower thickness than hair treated with distilled water and it generally looked more ruffled.
The tensile strength (resistance to breakage under tension) of hair treated with hard water was also much lower than that of hair treated with de-ionized water.
A 2018 study also confirmed that hard water decreases hair strength and increases breakage. Basically, hard water will make your hair thinner and more prone to breaking.
Signs of Hard Water on Hair?
Soaps and shampoos don't lather up – fatty acids in soaps, shampoos, and basically detergents of any kind react with the calcium compounds in hard water and form "soap scum". If you live in a hard water area, I'm sure you know how difficult it is to rinse this sticky stuff away from your shower floor or walls.
Well, not to gross you out, but this thing is not only on your bathroom surfaces but also on your hair and scalp. In a nutshell, when you use hard water, you'll need extra time to get things clean, whether it's your hands, hair, or laundry.
Dry and frizzy hair – hard water prevents moisture from entering the hair strands and skin. When your hair is dry, it is more likely to get tangled and frizzy. Even worse, when your scalp gets dry, you may end up with dandruff issues.
Hair breakage – no matter how healthy your hair may be, mineral buildup resulting from hard water can cause it to become brittle.
The Link Between Hard Water and Hair Loss
The connection between hard water and hair loss isn't really that straightforward. Hard water, as already mentioned, makes your hair dry and brittle. Hair that is dry and brittle is more prone to breakage and breakage can then lead to hair thinning.
However, keep in mind that hard water does not affect your roots. In other words, yes, hard water might wreak havoc on your hair care routine and make you lose more hair in the shower, but this is due to breakage only, and your hair should still grow just fine.
Why Hard Water Causes Hair Loss?
Hard water contains excess minerals such as calcium and magnesium that create buildup pretty much everywhere, including your scalp and individual hairs. While these minerals are beneficial to your health, when they build up on your scalp and hair shaft, they are not all that good.
This mineral buildup doesn't lead to hair loss by itself, but it is generally not good for the health of your hair and can result in breakage.
How to Prevent Hard Water from Causing Hair Loss?
As we mentioned, hard water will not make you lose your locks, but you may experience other problems that can indirectly lead to hair loss. Luckily, there are numerous ways to prevent this from happening and combat the effects of hard water.
The first and most popular one is a simple acidic rinse. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. This rinse involves a substance with an acidic pH, such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, that helps restore the natural pH balance of your hair. The acidity helps break down the minerals found in hard water.
To prepare this homemade solution, dilute one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with three cups of water. Apply the mixture directly to the scalp right after shampooing and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing again. Repeat the process once a week.
The next method involves clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos contain surfactants that help to strip the hair of product buildup, excess sebum, dirt, and oils. A clarifying shampoo can also help remove the mineral buildup from your hair, leaving your locks clean and healthy.
Rehydrating your dry and brittle hair can be just as important as removing mineral buildup. This is where a good hair mask comes in handy. A hair mask can help replenish your hair's natural oils, which can minimize the effects of hard water and keep your hair healthier.
You can also consider installing a water softener or at least a water softener shower head. Water softeners change the water’s chemical structure. If you have hard water, a water softener can make a real difference in your hair and skin.
Finally, one of the best ways to reduce the amount of hard water in your home is to use a water filter. Most water filters will remove many of the minerals found in hard water, including calcium and magnesium. Installing a water filter in your home will allow you to have soft water for everyday use.
The Bottom Line
Hard water is definitely not good for your hair, but it is not directly responsible for hair loss. Hair loss is caused by other factors. While hard water might have some negative effects, if you are experiencing hair loss, you should still focus on treating the underlying issues for effective treatment.
Only a medical professional can tell you the real reason behind your hair loss and provide you with proper solutions. In the meantime, feel free to apply our solutions to alleviate some of the symptoms of hard water exposure.