If you’ve ever washed your face and felt a tacky residue on your skin afterward, you are likely feeling the after-effects of hard water. While having hard water in your home isn’t harmful to your health, it can wreak havoc on your skin and take a toll on the condition of your hair, clothing, and appliances. Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate that more than 85% of the water that consumers use in the US can be classified as being some degree of “hardness” due to high to elevated levels of chlorine, sulfates, copper, calcium and magnesium.
What Causes Hard Water?
Minerals like magnesium and calcium interact with the chemicals in bath products, shampoos and soaps, preventing them from dissolving completely. Because they don’t dissolve, they don’t lather properly, leaving a scummy residue that makes your skin feel dull and dry, fades hair color, and leaves locks frizzy and brittle. Over time, this buildup can clog pores, creating skin care problems and leading to dull, limp hair.
Combating the Effects of Hard Water
The signs that you have hard water from your tap are generally obvious. While you can request that your plumbing professional test your water, or use an at-home test, if you have a ring around your bath, residue built up on your plumbing fixtures or tiles, a clogged shower head, or a white, chalky buildup in your water kettle, chances are you have hard water.
- Wash your hair with a chelating or clarifying shampoo. Chelating shampoos have anti-static properties and clarifying shampoos remove chemicals such as chlorine and eliminate mineral buildup on your hair. Hard water often has elevated sulfate levels, so look for a brand specifically formulated for hard water that doesn’t include sulfates or parabens which can make hair sticky.
- Replace your shower head. While a complete home water softening system will solve your home’s hard water problem, they can be expensive to install and are not always a feasible option. A filtering shower head improves your water and helps skin and hair by removing unwanted chemicals and enhancing the pH balance. The filter is built into the shower head or can be installed to the fixture in-line above the shower head.