Is Hard Water Bad For Your Hair? Experts Explain The Negative Effects

Plus, how to treat damaged tresses.

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When it comes to any hair health journey, the most common ways to revitalize a routine include taking steps to eliminate heat, add in ultra-hydrating products, boost growth by way of some vitamin-enriched supplements, and perhaps dip your toes into some buzzy scalp care practices.

But interestingly enough, the undercover hair damaging culprit may not just be your fave curling iron after all, but rather your shower water — and according to the industry experts, not all water is created equal.

Never heard of hard water versus soft water? To gain some knowledge on the effects that hard water has on your hair, Bustle tapped a few pros to break it all down. Min Kim, a hair color connoisseur and L’Oréal Professionnel’s global ambassador, breaks it down this way: “Hard water is water that contains high levels of dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, while soft water has lower levels of these minerals. It's important to be aware of the water quality in your area because hard water can have a negative impact on hair health.”

Arjan Singh, Jolie’s co-founder and Head of Brand Marketing & Operations, dives a bit further to say: “Rainwater is naturally soft, however, as water makes its way through the ground and into our waterways, it picks up minerals and becomes hard water. Additionally, most water coming out of our shower has been treated with additives like chlorine, which are damaging to our hair and skin.”

Caught your attention? Here’s everything you need to know about hard water’s effects on hair, and the best ways to treat the damage caused to your strands.

Is Hard Water Bad For Your Hair?

ICYMI: Soft water is most definitely superior. But what exactly does hard water do to your tresses?

Ryan Babenzien, co-founder and CEO of Jolie, notes: “Chlorine removes moisture and the natural oils from our hair, impacting both natural and color-treated hair. Additionally, chlorine strips the skin of its natural oils and can trigger a host of common skin issues from acne to eczema.”

Jolie Skin Co

Kim echoes the sentiment, adding: “The minerals in the water can cause buildup on the hair, making it feel dry, brittle, and rough. It can also affect the results of chemical treatments like hair coloring, lightening, and straightening, leading to uneven or unwanted results.” What’s more, hard water can seriously irritate one’s scalp, leading to issues with dandruff or even hair loss.

How To Know If Your Water Is Hard Or Soft

From a hair colorist’s perspective, Kim does note several signs she looks out for in her clients that may be caused by hard water, which include “hair that feels dry or rough, hair that is hard to comb or style, and hair color that fades quickly or looks uneven.”

Singh adds: “Have you noticed dishes or glasses that come out of the dishwasher with white spots? Or residue left on a glass shower door? Unless you have a water softener, the water you are showering in is likely very hard. And even if one uses a water softener or whole house filtration system, the water still travels through old, rusty pipes, which further contaminates the water.”

How To Fix A Hard Water Problem

When it comes to dealing with damaging hard water, there are two major solutions: To detox your hair and treat individual issues with the right products for the job, or perhaps more effectively, to filter your shower water so it doesn’t have the chance to create unwanted metal and mineral buildup.

The 8 Best Hard Water Hair Treatments

In need of a total routine revamp? Here are products that can help your hair woes.

Kim notes: “The Metal Detox Oil is designed to remove metal buildup caused by hard water or pollution, leaving hair feeling softer, smoother, and more manageable.

Babenzien explains: “Jolie filters out harmful contaminants like chlorine and heavy metals and improves the quality of your water for better skin, hair, and wellbeing. Better water is really ‘step zero’ in one’s daily routine — [and Jolie users] notice a difference after the first shower, seeing an improvement in frizzy hair, psoriasis, eczema, dry skin, acne, hair damage from treatments, color vibrancy, and more.”

Before shampooing, add in dpHUE’s Hair Rinse for a total detox that leaves your scalp and strands shinier and much more balanced.

Before shampooing, spritz your way to healthier, more vivid strands with Color Wow’s Mineral Remover.

Give your hair that ultra-clean feeling with Ouai’s fan-fave Detox Shampoo.

Remove mineral buildup while adding a whole lot of moisture to your locks with L’Oréal Professionnel’s Metal Detox Mask.

This R+Co rinse softens hair, soothes the scalp, and removes buildup.

With nearly 3,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, Malibu C’s Wellness Hair Remedy is referred to as a “hard water hair miracle” by some loyal users.

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