Is Hard Water Hair Damage Getting You Down? Here’s What You Can Do!

07-26-12 woman under shower

Not everyone is aware that the culprit behind their lackluster hair just might be from the hard water in their faucets! When I worked behind the chair, it was obvious and easy to feel hard water damage in a clients hair. Depending on the amount of build-up of minerals on the hair, it could feel crunchy, limp, or have a sort of eerie, false looking coating or shine.

The tell-tale signs of hard water hair damage is dry, dull, lifeless hair that won’t hold a curl and has lost it’s body and shine. Some women won’t realize that these things can simply be caused from their water. And, if that’s not awful enough, hard water is the culprit behind many heads of hair turning to a brassy orange, or to some sort of coppery shade that isn’t a hair color you want, believe me!

How do you know if hard water is the culprit?

I think it’s noticeable enough that something is happening to your hair, if you make a move from one residence with soft water to one with hard water or vice versa. But, the degrees of hardness or softness in the water happens on a scale, so it may take a while (or not) to notice the effects on your hair. But, in a short amount of time you’ll wonder what is happening to your hair when it won’t hold a curl or style and you’ve lost fullness, body and shine.

If you live in the city, contact your city hall or city water department for an answer. They can tell you the level of hardness if the water in your area.

What can you do if hard water is ruining your hair?

The most effective answer is of course, to buy a water softener. But, not all of you are going to go to that expense to resolve your hair damage. And not all hair damage from hard water is as extreme as turning hair crunchy and a brassy orange color. Here are some easier, less complicated remedies you can try to rid of the effects of hard water on the hair.

- Try a clarifying shampoo for a temporary fix. This is the easiest method of stripping build-up on the hair, but it won’t get rid of your hard water problem. It may or may not be a strong enough product to strip away the minerals from your hair, but it’s an inexpensive, easy product to try. Use it a few times over a week or so, initially. Always be sure to condition the hair after using a clarifying shampoo.

- Try (my favorite) Malibu Hard Water Weekly Demineralizer. This is an amazing product and it’s easy to use at home. We used this and another form of the product in the salon as a treatment to remove severe discoloration or chlorine build-up. This was extremely helpful before coloring hair to assure even coverage for damaged hair. Ask your salon if they give this treatment.

-Try a filter attachment on your shower head. This IS an affordable way of softening your water that can be extremely helpful. I say CAN BE because it may not be as effective for all water hardness. I live in an area with hard water and this has been an easy fix for my hair. But our water is not so hard (as well water) that it would turn my hair brittle or orange. You can buy these type of screw on filters at your local hardware store for about $25 and they last for 6 months or more. Mine last 8 or 9 months before I feel my hair changing with the effects which for me it becomes dull and it’s harder to hold a style.

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Barb Quinn
By: Barb Quinn

Barb Quinn has been a professional hairstylist for over 30 years and was a pioneer as an Internet hairstyle commentator starting her first hairstyle web site in 1999. Since then Barb has established herself as a nationally recognized hair designer, educator, and freelance writer. Thousands of women each day follow Barb's hairstyling wit and wisdom on her highly successful blogs The Hairstyle Blog and Visual Makeover In 2011 The Hairstyle Blog was selected as Top Beauty Blog by BeautySchool.com.