Sometimes we use certain things around us without knowing how damaging they can be. Depending on how we use it, water can be nourishing, but not all water types are good for the hair.

What Is Hard Water?

Many types of tap water are usually hard water. Hard water is a type of water that has high volumes of calcium and magnesium. The presence of these two elements makes it hard to maintain healthy hair. A few major signs of hard water include:

  • Milky residue is left on your hands after washing them
  • White film left on surfaces after washing
  • Slightly colored water

Image of bath shower
Photo Credit: Jill Burrow

Effects On Hair

Hard water can severely damage natural hair and contribute to frizz and rapid breakage. The extra minerals in the water can also weaken the hair structure. Hard water can also lead to split ends, and the cuticle layer can be affected when large deposits of the elements from the hard water build up around the cuticles and stunt the growth of your hair. Hard water can also throw off the natural oils in your hair and leave your hair frail, thin and vulnerable. This can negatively impact the overall health of your hair, causing thinning and frizz.

A 2016 study that profiled 15 females showed that hard water could be unhealthy for natural hair. An older 2013 study had also previously established this fact. This finding was concluded after washing hair samples in both hard water and distilled water for 30 days. The end of the study showed that hair from hard water samples had stunted and was no longer full, rich, and thriving. The appearance of the hair had also changed. Hard water also leaves hair feeling dry and tangled.


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Soft water is the opposite of hard water, and can reverse the damage of hard water. To fix the issue, consider investing in a water softener shower head that can remove the hardness from the water and remove the harsh impact of the minerals. Another alternative is to use a clarifying shampoo that cleanses the scalp from the root up. A hair mask can also restore moisture and nourishment.