Hard Water: The Sneaky Culprit Behind Your Crunchy Hair and Dry Skin?

Like most women, you probably do everything imaginable to keep your skin and hair feeling clean, healthy, and soft. But despite your best efforts, neither feels quite as you’d want them to. Chances are, you blamed it on a new beauty regimen or your hair and skincare products. But here’s something you might never have considered: Your shower water could be negatively affecting your skin and hair.

Sure, nourishing oils, deep conditioners, skin cleansers, and moisturizers are all excellent ways to keep your hair and skin looking their best. However, we fail to realize that the chemicals, metals, minerals, and other impurities possibly in our water supply may be secretly sabotaging our beauty endeavors – hence why we need some of these products in the first place.

We know, dealing with hard water is no fun. And since more than 90 percent of American households have hard water, it’s almost impossible to avoid it for long. Luckily, we have a quick and easy fix. But before we spill the beans, let’s break down what hard water does to your skin and hair, and how to detect it. Let’s get right into it!

First, what exactly is hard water?

Your hairstylist, colorist, or dermatologist may have warned you about the harsh effects of “hard water,” but what is it exactly? In short, hard water contains high concentrations of dissolved minerals, especially calcium and magnesium.

Water picks up these minerals as it seeps underground through limestone, chalk, and gypsum deposits. It then leaches them into reservoirs and other water sources that serve municipal and private water systems. Although these minerals may have some health benefits, they can devastate your skin and hair, and household plumbing fixtures, pipes, and water-using appliances.

What does hard water do to the skin?

One of the most common effects of hard water on the skin is persistent dryness (or in more relatable terms, increased use of skin lotion, cream, and moisturizer). Your dry skin is the result of the high mineral content in hard water. When water contains high amounts of calcium, it strips your skin of natural oils that would otherwise keep your skin healthy and moisturized.

Furthermore, hard water doesn’t dissolve soap properly, meaning that some residue might remain on the skin after bathing or showering. Your skin might feel like there’s a layer of residue on it and doesn’t feel as “clean” even after rinsing. This skin residue can disrupt your skin barrier, clog your pores, and leave your skin susceptible to acne breakouts and other adverse skin conditions. It can be incredibly irritating for people who are already dealing with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, etc. While hard water itself doesn’t cause these conditions, it can irritate them or even initiate flare-ups.

The combination of hard water and many of these conditions can lead to more frequent and severe breakouts and more embarrassing skin issues, like bumps and razor burn. Hard water can also affect the skin on your scalp, causing dryness and an everlasting itch.

And when we think it couldn’t get any worse, nationally recognized dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, M.D., says hard water may cause your skin to age faster. This is because hard water can form free radicals that damage healthy skin cells. Besides adding fine lines and wrinkles on your skin to your to-worry list, it can also break down collagen, a structural protein that helps the skin stay healthy.

How does hard water affect my hair?

From fading hair color and increased dandruff to flat, dull and brassy hair, hard water is “The Enemy of Good Hair.” Perhaps you’ve preserved by using special shampoo and conditioner products to keep the flakes to a minimum. But if you continue to wash your hair with hard water, you’d be doing more harm than good.

The same minerals in hard water that clog skin pores are the very same ones that can worsen dandruff on your scalp. When hard water comes in contact with your hair scalp, it leaves behind nasty mineral buildup. This excess buildup of minerals can weigh your hair down, making it look dull, frizzy, brittle, and super-dry (think straw-like), which we all know can only lead to one thing: damaged hair.

Hard water is also notorious for interfering with hair color, causing it to become faded, dull, and in some cases, discolored. And of course, long-term exposure may also cause your hair to become less manageable (possibly a woman’s worst nightmare).

While there’s no scientific evidence that hard water causes hair loss, your hair will feel thinner when you wash it with hard water. And no matter what product you’re using, it will be hard to mask the effects of hard water on your hair. This means more trips to the salon and increased stress on your self-care budget.

How can I tell if I have hard water?

If you want to know if your shower is spewing hard water, take a look around you. If you’ve noticed excess soap scum that, no matter how thoroughly you clean and scrub, isn’t budging, that’s probably it. Several other telltale signs of hard water include white, chalky residue around your faucets or shower heads, or if your soaps and shampoos (even the most expensive ones) don’t lather well. While these signs are all indicative of hard water in your home, to be sure, it’s best to perform a water test. A water test will confirm if you have hard water and whether the problem is mild, moderate, or severe.

If you are on a municipal water system, you can ask the water supplier to provide you with the hardness level of the water they deliver. Better yet, request a copy of their latest water quality report. If you have a private water supply, such as a private well, you can use a DIY home test kit (sold online or at local home centers or hardware stores) to check the water for hardness. Alternatively, you can send a water sample from your tap to a certified local lab for testing. Professional testing can detect various other contaminants that can be toxic to you and your family’s health.

How can I protect my skin and hair from the harsh effects of hard water?

By now, you can understand the widespread effects of hard water on your skin and hair. You can always mask the problem with specialty lotions and new hair products. However, it’s smarter to deal with the issue at the source.

If you suspect or know that your household has hard water, your best option is to invest in a water softening system, like the Springwell FS1 FutureSoft salt-free system or our traditional SS1 whole-house salt-based unit. After all, you deserve to feel clean and refreshing coming out of the shower, not feel burdened down by cracked, dry skin and annoying dandruff.

As you may have noticed, the two options we recommend are different, in that one unit uses salt, and the other doesn’t. (We cover the difference between salt-based and salt-free softener in this article.) But despite that, both systems are designed to filter out minerals that ruin your skin and hair. They offer many unique features that combine to provide high-quality softened water, which offers the following benefits:

  • Softer and healthier skin and bouncier and shinier hair
  • Less spotting and stains on hard surfaces, dishware, glassware, and utensils
  • Decreased use of chemicals and detergents to clean your kitchen and bathroom, saving your money
  • Increased lifespan and efficiency of plumbing fixtures, pipes, and water-using appliances
  • Less plumbing and household appliance repairs and maintenance due to corrosion from hard water
  • Better-tasting water, beverages, and food
  • Softer and cleaner laundry

The FS1 and SS1 are two of the most efficient and highly rated water softeners on the market. They feature a compact, modern, and unique design. But more importantly, they offer exceptional softening capacity and performance, and impressively high flow rates for larger households.

The best part is that, when you purchase any of these units directly from Springwell, you get free shipping, a lifetime warranty, a six-month money-back satisfaction guarantee, factory-direct savings up to 50 percent, and affordable financing.

But if you cannot address your hard water at the source (at least for now), there are several other things you can do to protect your skin and hair from its harsh effects:

  • Take shorter showers to reduce your skin’s and hair’s exposure to hard water minerals.
  • Apply shielding lotions to help protect against certain substances in water.
  • Use less soap or shampoo to reduce soapy residue on your skin or in your hair.
  • Use sink-filtered water to wash your face (your face is most sensitive to hard water).

These steps will allow your skin and hair to absorb more moisture. Remember, the more you protect against dry skin and hair, the lower the chance of experiencing severe outbreaks or further skin or hair irritations due to dry skin conditions or dry scalp.

Final Thoughts

Turns out, maintaining healthy hair and skin is more than following a strict beauty regimen or buying the most expensive skin and hair care products. Small details, such as the type of water you use to wash your hair and skin (whether hard or soft), can severely impact their quality. You may have been doing it for the longest time and have gotten used to the results. But, in reality, your hair and skin are not showing their true potential. Hard water causes dryness, scaling, and damage to both your skin and hair. It wicks away moisture, flexibility, and youth at a gradual pace. Why sit back and let this happen?

Contact Springwell today to learn more about our water softening systems and find out how best we can help you get back your groove with more radiant skin and lustrous hair.