What To Do If Hard Water Is Making Your Hair Dull, Damaged & Frizzy

Clogged pores, filmy residue (even after a long shower), tangled hair, itchy scalp, frizzy ends, irritated skin – sound concerning? These are all potential side effects of hard water.

Hard water has become a hot topic for in both health and beauty alike, but what even is it, and why should you care? 

“Hard water refers to water that has a high concentration of minerals, usually calcium and magnesium,” explains Jennifer Smith, Research and Development Manager of DevaCurl. “The minerals in hard water can adhere to the hair and make it less manageable. Over time, this can lead to buildup causing hair to appear dull and damaged.” 

The main culprit?

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Calcium, which can actually work against soaps and shampoo, and prevent them from properly dissolving in water. 

You'll know if hard water is the reason behind your dry skin or unmanageable hair, mainly because it will feel like you aren’t really getting clean in the shower, or you find residue on your skin after washing, or if your water has an off smell or taste.

“You might be able to tell from washing your hair that the water is hard,” says Margot White, founder of The Choosy Chick. “It might feel like your shampoo is not working properly and your hair is left looking dull.  The same goes for your dishes in the dishwasher.”  

If it is, no need to panic. According to Jennifer Dimitriu of Goodness Soap, up to 85 percent of homes have hard water.

Not to mention, hard water can be found throughout the country, and it is not limited to well water or groundwater sources as was traditionally thought, according to Caitlin Hoff, a Health and Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org.

Related: I Survive Dirty Hair Thanks To These Second Day Hair Hacks

So, what can you do to combat the issue? 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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To get to the root of the problem, water softeners can be installed in your shower or faucets to clear out the minerals. You can also look for soaps and shampoos with an extra "chelating agents," says Dimitriu. 

If you have hard water and can’t deal with it directly, there are several measures you can take to care for and protect your hair and skin. To deal with clogged pores, try exfoliating, using a gentle cleanser, or washing with purified water. 

Related: 7 Ways to Prep Your Skin For a Night Out While You Nap

“As far as skin goes, depending on your issues, I usually recommend exfoliating once a week to clean out the pores, followed by a hydrating face mask,” advises Maddie North, celebrity makeup and editorial stylist. “If acne persists, you can use a gentle acne face wash, and use bottled or purified water to wash it off.” 

For hair, you can try buying products like DevaCurl that both cleanse and hydrate hair or other clarifying shampoos. White also advises using vinegar to help remove residue in hair. 

“To help eliminate the buildup that hard water can leave in your hair - the perfect solution is vinegar,” she says. “Simply mix  3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle, shampoo as usual, and then spray solution into hair working into roots, and rinse. This can be done every few weeks to break up buildup, and restore PH and shine in the hair.”

Hard water sounds a little scary, but it really is fairly common and can be dealt with. Between faucet filters and a proper beauty routine, you can navigate the challenges of hard water. Additionally, you can talk to a professional and get the mineral levels in your water tested to find out the extent of the problem.