Many years ago when I frequented the hair salon often I was asked by a stylist, ever so politely, “what kind of water are you showering with?” My immediate response was a raised eyebrow followed by ”pardon...come again?” I proceeded to tell her in the same polite tone (although clearly bothered and confused by the question, as if I had a choice) “the kind that comes out of my shower head.” She chuckled and went on to ask if I’ve thought about installing any filters or special shower head to my plumbing because my hair felt unusually dry and that it could be the water. I knew and heard of New York having hard water in comparison to other geographic locations such as the Caribbean (According to an article published by Refinery 29 hard water is very common, in the United States, it can be found in more than 85% of homes. ) but I didn’t realize it was making that much of a change to my hair, and even skin. After I left the salon I pretty much forgot about the conversation. I went on living my life and taking normal showers with my regular shower head without doing further research or making changes to my plumbing.
It wasn’t until a couple years after that salon visit that while shopping in the bath department for my new apartment I noticed in the shower accessories isle what was labeled as an Ionic Shower Head. It looked nothing like any shower head I had ever seen. The neck and body of it were transparent and inside were mineral pebbles. When I read the details on the back of the box I was brought back to that conversation with the hair stylist. “Negative ion mineral balls effectively remove chlorine, fluoride and soften hard water, leaving your skin and hair soft and smooth” is what it said.
I was so excited that someone actually came up with an easy to install accessory that could help alleviate the issue of hard shower water without doing too much to my plumbing system. In New York where I’m from changing your plumbing in an apartment is not so easy. Any who, I bought the shower head and haven’t used a regular one since. I think I’ve upgraded a couple times to a similar system but with the same function. And guess what? I noticed a vast difference in how my shower water felt on my hair and skin, I also noticed that my hair and skin absorbed moisture a lot better.
So what is hard water anyway? And what makes soft water soft? We did a little research and here is what we found.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that has a high volume of “hard” minerals, specifically magnesium and calcium. It’s measured using grains per gallon (gpg). For water to be considered hard, it must register above 3.5 gpg. So, why does it matter if the water running throughout your plumbing system is hard or not? For starters, it can cause wear and tear on your household appliances, cause buildup on showerheads and plumbing, and leave laundry to be dingy, discolored and stiff.
How Does Hard Water Affect My Skin?
The most common effect of hard water on your skin is dryness. Much like with your hair, hard water makes it difficult to rinse away soap from the surface of your skin, leaving your skin dry and potentially irritated. Furthermore, if you have sensitive skin, psoriasis, or eczema, hard water can make conditions worse by drying out your skin even more. When hard water comes in contact with your skin, some of those minerals that cause the hard water get left behind, absorbing a lot of the natural moisture and oils from your skin. This lack of moisture in your skin and high levels of hard minerals can also mess with the hydration and pH balance of your skin which could potentially cause breakouts. I like to apply a little of Butter By Keba’s oil soaked Bath Salts to my shower gel to add extra moisture and balance to my cleansing routine because cleansing agents can be very drying. I also make sure to apply Body Lotion first then the Body Butter.
How Does Hard Water Affect My Hair?
- Hair that feels filmy, straw-like dull and limp, and ultimately less pliable
- Color-treated hair that fades quickly, leading to more frequent color treatments and further damage to hair
- Residual shampoo in your hair
- Hair that’s hard to lather with shampoo
- Thinning hair and breakage caused by hard water
- Hair loss
How can water be softened?
Water is softened on a large scale by the addition of just enough lime to precipitate the calcium as carbonate and the magnesium as hydroxide, whereupon sodium carbonate is added to remove the remaining calcium salts. In areas where the water is hard, home water softeners are used, making use of the properties of natural or artificial zeolite minerals.
So, now that we know a little more about our water content and how it can effect the texture, feel and health of our hair and skin we can begin to make small changes in how we bath and what we bath with.
If you’re interested in knowing more about what was discussed please feel free to follow the hyperlinks within this article and at the bottom of this page.