Some shower water is too hard. Some shower water is too soft. Stop us if you’ve heard this story before, but shower water can have as much of an impact on your Goldilocks as anything else you put on your hair. From dryness to frizz to greasy, lank hair, your problem may not actually be your hair itself, but your water.
The Hard Facts On Hard (and Soft) Water
So what is hard and soft water anyway? Good question, and the answer is elemental. Clean rainwater is free of minerals and therefore “soft”. As it falls to the ground, the water seeps through the soil and rocks, dissolving minerals. Hard water is simply water that contains a larger quantity of dissolved minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium, but hard water may also include bicarbonates and sulfates. Soft water, on the other hand, is either rainwater that occurs where there are hard, calcium-poor rocks that do not leech as many chemicals, or water that is treated to contain less of these minerals, with added sodium.
Why Water Matters
Hard water can be a problem for household chores (hello soap scum and spotty dishes), but also for hair. The mineral buildup in hard water makes it difficult for shampoo and conditioner to sufficiently lather and wash away, so your hair may feel filmy and dry. You may also notice that your hair retains color less effectively, and turns brassy more quickly in hard water. On the other hand, soft water can leave fine hair feeling greasy and weighed down. Resist the urge to shampoo more frequently to get your hair squeaky clean, as that will actually exacerbate the problem.
Know Your Water...Now What?
Test the waters—luckily, there are many kits out there that tell you if your water is hard or soft. Luckier still, there are solutions for your water woes…
Install a Water Softener
This is the most efficient, permanent solution, but also the most expensive. Contact your local residential water treatment center for information on installing your own water softener or shower head that will remove calcium and magnesium in your water supply. Your water will be softer which will help balance the pH level of your hair for silky, smooth locks.
Rinse with Filtered Water
We don’t recommend using bottled water as it is not a sustainable solution, but filtered water is easier on you and the environment. Keep a pitcher of filtered water near your shower and use it for a final rinse on your hair after washing it. Bonus points if it’s cold, filtered water, as that will help seal the cuticles of your hair for added shine.
Rinse with Vinegar
Vinegar is acidic, and removes buildup of minerals, leaving your hair shiny and healthy-looking. Combine one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 3 cups of water and let this mixture sit on your hair for a minute after shampooing. Use this easy rinse once a week to combat dull, hard water hair.
Lather, rinse, repeat...knowing what type of water you’re dealing with is the first step to shiny, healthy-looking hair. But the bottom line is that these easy peasy solutions should help you keep your head above water, whether it’s hard or soft.