Most people do not know that hard water is not safe to use on hair. The most important reason why you should save your hair from hard water is because regular use will cause damage to your hair. The damage will in most cases only be handled by you cutting off the hair and growing it back again.
How hard water ruins your hair
Most of the damage caused by hard water is usually permanent. The best way to avoid this damage is to completely stay away from hard water. Below are some of the ways in which hard water ruins hair.
Hard water builds up on any surface that it touches. If you use hard water to wash your hair, you will create chemical buildup on your strands. This will weaken the hair and eventually dry it out completely because no moisture will be getting through. This leads to dull hair prone to breakage.
Hard water does not lather due to its high mineral content. This means that your shampoo will be doing zero work. Lather needs to be created to break down dirt during cleaning. With no lather creation, minerals and dirt will buildup which will eventually lead to hair weakness and breakage.
Dandruff and dry scalp
Using hard water on your hair is associated with a dry scalp and dandruff. Hard water dries up the moisture from your hair and scalp. This is perfect environment for dandruff formation. The mineral buildup might also irritate the skin on your scalp and cause an itch or discomfort. The scratching will definitely ruin your scalp and encourage dandruff.
Split ends and heavy hair
The minerals in hard water cause hair to develop split ends. The hair also loses moisture and thus becomes kind of heavy and drops. Those who prefer to keep curls will not be able to hold them in place for long if they use hard water on their hair often.
Hair color change
Hard water might contain copper which is not so friendly to hair color. It might make your hair change color to a dull one which might not look so good.
Characteristics of hard water
To be sure that you are not using hard water on your hair, there are a few tests that you can perform on your own at home to help you make a decision on whether you should use the water or not.
1. No lather
When you use hard water in washing anything, there will be no lather. This lather is the one that helps break down dirt for ease of washing. No lather means no breakdown of dirt and a dirtier end result.
2. Buildup of minerals
Hard water usually contains buildup of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. These minerals cause the water to have a certain taste and create buildup on any surface that they touch.
3. Leaves behind scum
If you want to know what kind of water you have, you will find out by looking at a container that was previously holding water or a drain where the water has passed. Hard water will leave a scum ring in a container and scales in the drain pipe because of the mineral buildup.
4. Has no taste when drinking
Hard water has no health risks when you drink it. You will be able to tell a difference between hard and soft water by how it tastes. Hard water usually has no taste at all while soft water is associated with a salty taste.
5. Leaves a residue
A perfect test is washing your hands. When you wash your hands using soft water, the end result is always a feel of freshness and cleanness. With hard water, you will feel as if the water left a layer on your hands.
What to do if you have already used hard water on your hair
It can be challenging to fix your hair after you have used hard water for a long time, but there are still ways to strengthen it.
Rinse your hair with an equal parts water and vinegar mixture. Let it sit a while then rinse off with clean soft water. Most people prefer to use Apple Cider Vinegar but all of them work well to restore your hair back to health by breaking down buildup.
Just like vinegar, lemon is acidic and its properties help breakdown the layers of buildup on hair. Add drops of lemon juice to water and use it in the second last rinse when washing your hair.
Invest in a water softener
A water softener will help you stay away from the effects of hard water going forward. It might cost you a bit at first, but you will appreciate it in the long run as it will reduce the amount of showering you have to use to manage your hair.
Quality hair products
Invest in quality hair products. Conditioner, hair treatments, and clarifying shampoo will help you maintain the quality of your hair even when threatened by other factors. Clarifying shampoos are designed to deal with the effects of hard water.
The big chop
If the damage is too much, cut your hair and grow it afresh. It might take you time to grow it back but with information on what hard water does to hair, you will be able to take better care of it.
Use hair vitamins
Hair vitamins have been said to help a great deal in restoring the glory of damaged hair. The vitamins will improve your hair shine, volume, color and even curls if you want to have them.
Try argan oil
This oil is referred to as a magic worker when used on dry hair and scalp. It restores moisture to hair and scalp and mends the hair strands. Use it as regularly as possible.
How to soften hard water before using it on hair
There are numerous ways to soften hard water and make it safe to use on your hair.
Use baking soda
Baking soda combines with the minerals in hard water to form a hard substance that can soften the water. This is through a precipitation process. The good thing about this process is that the substance formed is usually insoluble.
Simply put, this process involved adding lime water to hard water. Through a process called precipitation, the hard water is softened by getting rid of the minerals present in it.
Boil the water
This process works for temporarily hard water. Boiling it gets rid of the minerals that cause hardness and make it okay to use on hair.
When calgon is added to hard water, ions are interchanged and hard water is softened in the process.
Ion exchange process
This involves the use of a water softener which passes the water through a channel where the hard ions in the water are exchanged with soft ions to soften the water.