Hard water is ruining your hair—here’s how to stop it

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By Redzhanna Jazmin

Hard water is ruining your hair—here’s how to stop it

From how to tell if you’re dealing with hard water to how to reverse its effects on your hair, we’re covering the A-Zs of hard water haircare.

Have you noticed some big changes in your hair lately? Maybe you’ve moved house or you’re on holiday—whatever it is, your mane is not happy about it.

Fret not—we’re here to help you pinpoint the culprit. Spoiler alert: It’s something in the water. Specifically, something in the hard water. From crusty residues to breakage-causing strain on your strands, hard water can absolutely ruin your hair (and your skin) without proper intervention.

We spoke to Zayne Chow, PPS Manager of Schwarzkopf Professional, in order to glean some insights into the effect of hard water on the hair as well as the foolproof ways to mitigate them. Find out more ahead:


soft water vs hard water on hair
Image: Schwarzkopf Professional


How does hard water affect the hair?

Hard water can cause a number of issues for the hair, including:

  1. Dryness: Hard water can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle.
  2. Frizz: The minerals in hard water can make the hair more difficult to style and can cause frizz.
  3. Tangles: Hard water can make the hair more prone to tangles and knots, making it difficult to comb or brush.
  4. Dullness: The minerals in hard water can make the hair appear dull and lifeless.
  5. Dandruff: Hard water can cause a build-up of minerals on the scalp, which can lead to dandruff.



Why does hard water cause these effects on the hair?

The answer lies in the chemical makeup of hard water. “The build-up of minerals in hard water such as calcium and magnesium can create a film on the hair and scalp, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate,” Chow explains. “As a result, the hair is left dry and prone to breakage. Leave these issues unresolved and it could even lead to hair loss.”



hard water hair before and after
Image: Schwarzkopf Professional


How can you tell you’re dealing with hard water?

According to Chow, the tell-tale signs are as follows:

  1. Feeling a film on your hands after washing This is caused by the soap reacting with calcium to form soap scum.
  2. Spots These can appear on glasses and silverware coming out of the dishwasher. This is a deposit and usually results from hard water evaporating from a surface.
  3. Mineral stains If you’ve noticed a few powdery white or greenish stains around your bathroom sink, there’s a good chance that you’ve got hard water. The minerals in hard water tend to build up and coat pipes and faucets, leaving them covered in residue.
  4. Reduced water pressure in your home Believe it or not, your clogged drains may not be a result of loose hair in your drains! Rather, the gradual buildup of sediment left from the calcium salts in hard water can obstruct your pipes, leading to low water pressure.
  5. Tangled hair after washing If you’ve noticed that your hair is always knotted post-wash—even after using copious amounts of conditioner—there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with hard water. To explain, the shaft of every strand of hair on your head has little scales on it. In healthy hair, these scales lie flat, giving your hair the sleek, shiny and soft appearance we all covet. However, the minerals in hard water crystalise as your hair dries, leaving a cast on your hair that makes these scales stand up, thus leaving your hair dull, dry and more prone to tangles.


How can you protect your hair against hard water?

To address the effects of hard water on the hair, you can try using a water-softening shower head to remove unwanted minerals from your shower water altogether.

Alternatively, investing in a clarifying shampoo will help you to remove the build-up of minerals on the hair and scalp. You can also try using hair care products that are formulated to help counteract the effects of hard water. Look out for formulations that are fortifying and conditioning for the hair in particular!


BURO’s picks for hard water haircare essentials:


Find more hair care stories like this here.




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