Is Hard Water Bad For Your Hair?

Hard water is water that contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. If you live in an area with hard water, you will likely see limescale when you open the kettle in the morning, but you may not have realised that hard water is affecting your hair. 

If you think about it, the same water that causes a limescale build-up in your kettle is the same that comes out of your shower, so imagine the build-up it can leave behind on your scalp.

When this water interacts with your hair, it can have several effects that may impact its appearance, texture, and overall health. Understanding the impact of hard water on your hair can help you take necessary precautions and maintain healthier locks. 

Is Hard Water Bad For Hair?

The short answer is yes; showering with hard water is likely to be damaging to your hair. If you’ve been struggling with your hair feeling dry and lacklustre, or even an overall feeling that your hair is never fully clean no matter how often you wash it, it is most likely that these issues are caused by hard water and aren’t about your hair itself.

What Does Hard Water Do To Your Hair?

Hard water contains higher levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. When you wash your hair with hard water, these minerals can build up on the hair, or interact with your products, leading to a few potential issues. 

Signs of Hard Water on Hair

There are several signs that your hair may be being impacted by hard water: 

Dry and Brittle Hair

The minerals in hard water can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry, rough, and brittle. This can lead to split ends and make it more susceptible to breakage.

Dull Hair

Hard water can create a mineral buildup on the hair shaft, which dulls its shine and makes it appear lacklustre.

Difficulty Lathering Shampoo

The minerals present in hard water reduce your hair product's ability to lather properly. You may find that in order to get a good lather from your products, you end up using much more than you should. 

Without being able to easily lather, shampoo does not actually clean your hair, but combines with the minerals in hard water to create a soapy scum that gets slathered through your hair. This scum remains as a residue in your hair after rinsing, which means you never achieve that fresh, newly-washed feeling. 

Residue Buildup

The mineral deposits from hard water can accumulate on your scalp and hair, leaving a chalky or sticky residue. This residue can make your hair feel unclean even after washing.

Colour Fading 

If you dye your hair, hard water can cause the colour to fade more quickly due to the mineral deposits interfering with the hair's cuticle.

Scalp Irritation

The mineral buildup on your scalp can clog hair follicles, potentially leading to scalp irritation, itchiness, and dandruff.

Frizz and Tangles

Hard water can roughen the hair's cuticle, leading to increased frizz and tangling.

Difficulty Styling

Styling your hair may become more challenging due to the increased dryness and frizz caused by hard water.

Weighed-down Hair

The mineral buildup can also add weight to the hair, making it appear flat and lifeless.

Can Hard Water Cause Greasy Hair?

Yes, hard water can contribute to greasy hair. When hard water minerals accumulate on the scalp and hair, they can create a barrier that prevents effective cleansing. This can lead to an accumulation of sebum (natural oils produced by the scalp), sweat, and styling products, making the hair look greasy and weighed down.

Can Hard Water Cause Hair Breakage?

Yes, hard water can contribute to hair breakage. The mineral buildup on the hair can make it more brittle and susceptible to breakage, especially if the hair is dry and lacks proper moisture.

Can Hard Water Cause Hair Thinning?

Hard water itself is not a direct cause of hair thinning. However, if the mineral deposits on the hair lead to dryness, brittleness, and breakage, this could contribute to the appearance of thinner hair over time.

Does Hard Water Cause Hair Loss?

There is no direct scientific evidence to suggest that hard water causes hair loss. However, some studies have indicated that prolonged exposure to hard water may lead to hair damage, which could potentially contribute to hair breakage and thinning. Therefore, hard water may indirectly lead to hair loss or the appearance of less hair. Hair loss is typically caused by various factors, such as genetics, hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, and lifestyle habits.

Can Hard Water Cause Grey Hair?

No, hard water does not cause hair to turn grey. Grey hair is primarily determined by genetics and the natural ageing process, where the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for hair colour) decreases over time.

Can Hard Water Dry Out Your Hair?

Yes, hard water can dry out your hair. The minerals in hard water can strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and rough texture. This can make the hair more susceptible to damage and breakage.

Tips For Washing Hair With Hard Water

  • Use a Water Softener: Install a water softener in your home to reduce the mineral content in the water. This can significantly help in preventing the negative effects of hard water on your hair and skin.
  • Clarifying Shampoos: Periodically use clarifying shampoos to remove mineral buildup from your hair and scalp. These shampoos are specially formulated to deep cleanse and remove residues.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse: An occasional rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar can help balance the pH level of your scalp and remove mineral deposits.
  • Chelating Products: Consider using chelating shampoos or treatments to remove heavy metal and mineral buildup from your hair.
  • Leave-in Conditioners and Hair Masks: Apply leave-in conditioners and hair masks regularly to help replenish moisture and keep your hair hydrated.

How To Make Hard Water Soft For Hair?

The truth is, if you are showering with hard water, there is no hair product out there that will be as effective at giving you the clean, silky hair you will have from installing a water softener system in your home. The very best way to protect your hair is with soft water. 

A water softener will remove the magnesium and calcium minerals that combine with your shampoo to make that irritating, drying soap scum and provide you with soft water that works with your hair products to give you the results you deserve. 

Investing in a water softener system means that the endless stream of money spent on countless hair products can stop. It also means that those you do buy will work far more effectively, and you can finally say goodbye to damaged hair once and for all!

Our Kinetico water softener systems are installed at the main water supply, so the water that comes directly out of your shower is softer.