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Dryness and frizz: 6 effects of hard water on hair

Hard water may be the reason behind your dry and frizzy hair. Know the other effects of hard water on hair and what to do about it.
Side effects of hard water on hair
Know the side effects of hard water on hair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 25 Nov 2023, 04:01 pm IST
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Hard water is considered to be a household woe, as it leaves unsightly mineral deposits on faucets and showerheads. It is not just plumbing hardware in the restroom, hard water can wreak havoc on your hair too. It causes a myriad of issues, including dry and frizzy hair. So, let us explore the effects of hard water on hair.

Fifteen women participated in a 2015 study published in the ResearchGate, and it was found that hard water damaged hair. Washing hair samples in hard water and distilled water for a month were taken for the study. It was found that the hair from the hard water samples had decreased in volume.

Woman shampooing
Is hard water damaging your hair? Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the side effects of hard water on hair?

Hard water is basically the water that has high levels of minerals. These minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium ions, are picked up as water travels through rocks and soil, making them less soluble and more likely to leave deposits. Here’s how it affects hair:

1. Dryness and frizz

Hard water can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and prone to frizz. This lack of moisture makes the hair more susceptible to breakage and split ends, says dermatologist Dr Monica Chahar.

2. Dull appearance

The mineral build-up from hard water can create a film on the hair shaft, which can lead to a lacklustre and dull appearance.

3. Difficulty in lathering

The minerals in hard water react with soaps and shampoos, making it challenging to create a rich lather. This can result in inadequate cleansing, leaving the hair feeling weighed down and unclean.

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4. Increased tangling

Dry and damaged hair is more prone to tangling, and hard water makes this issue worse. Tangles and knots can cause breakage when you are combing or brushing your hair.

5. Colour fading

If you are fond of hair colouring, hard water can be bad news for you. The minerals in it tend to interfere with the colour molecules. This causes the colour to lose its shine and vibrancy very quickly, says the expert.

6. Scalp irritation

Hard water can irritate the scalp, leading to dryness, itching and dandruff. This discomfort can further contribute to hair damage.

Woman washing hair
You can repair hair damaged by hard water. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to repair hair damaged by hard water?

Continuous exposure to hard water can contribute to persistent hair problems such as chronic dryness, weakened hair structure and an increased likelihood of developing split ends. Over time, this may result in overall diminished hair health. But you can do your bit to repair damaged hair.

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1. Clarifying shampoos

Use clarifying shampoos to remove mineral build-up from the hair. These shampoos are specifically designed to break down and eliminate deposits, restoring hair to a healthier state.

2. Deep conditioning

Regularly go for deep conditioning treatments, as they can help to replenish moisture and nourish your mane.

3. Vinegar rinse

Vinegar rinse is a home remedy that can be done to help to dissolve mineral deposits and restore hair pH. Mix vinegar with distilled water, and use it after washing your hair with a shampoo.

Preventing hard water hair damage

Before hard water takes a toll on your hair, try to prevent the damage.

1. Water softeners

A water softening system can reduce the mineral content in your water, and this can alleviate the negative effects of hard water on your hair, says Dr Chahar.

2. Shower filters

Invest in a shower filter designed to remove minerals from water. These filters are easy to install and can make a noticeable difference in the quality of your hair.

3. Protective hairstyles

Braids or buns are some of the protective hairstyles you can wear to minimise exposure to hard water. This can reduce the risk of tangling and hair breakage.

Incorporate these tips into your hair care routine so that your tresses remain healthy.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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