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View Full Version : Hard water is ruining my hair!



DizzyGinger
May 20th, 2016, 09:52 AM
Sooo I'm 28 years old and I *just* found out that I've always lived in areas with hard water. I was born in Southern California where it's very bad, moved to Northern CA as a teen where it's less bad but still not great...now I'm in Arizona and found this is an area with some of THE hardest water in the country. :(

Now I understand what's been going on with my hair the past couple years! (probably my skin too) I have some ideas for keeping my hair healthy and wanted to see what you guys thought, and if you have any suggestions. I'm about to do henna for the first time, which I hope improves its overall condition, but I'm mixing with cassia and I know I can't let my hard water touch that or it's gonna turn green!

I only wash my hair twice a week, sometimes once, and it's adjusted to that and deals just fine. I don't even need dry shampoo. I wear it up a lot and that helps. So, I think I'm going to buy some jugs of distilled water and just use that when I need to wash, which shouldn't be expensive since it's cheap and I won't use it that often. Anyone do this?

I use Suave shampoo and conditioner, and do coconut oil masks once a week, but in light of this new knowledge I think it's time to definitely leave behind conventional poo and condish (lol) and use something else. However, my budget is on the small side...what are some inexpensive options to clean and condition? I've heard good things about coconut milk (the thick kind) for conditioner.

I'd love any advice, from anyone who doesn't wash with tap, and especially anyone with hard water! <3

Wildcat Diva
May 20th, 2016, 10:16 AM
Lots of suggestions.

Buy a chleating shampoo. There are threads on here about those. Also, see about making "miracle water." There are thread on here on that too. I have experimented with that and the vitamin C gives slip to the water, helps there be fewer tangles.

If it were me, I would try using a basin of filtered/miracle water to do a diluted CO wash every other one at least for now. On a budget, I can get away with one round of diluted conditioner. This is a cheap method but takes transitioning maybe? With conditioner only, there is not so much stress to rinsing completely. Another technique I use for these types of washes is that I put diluted CO in an applicator bottle with a slanted tip. I, before my basin "wash", will squirt the diluted CO to my scalp (With my hair dry, a few minutes before I plan to wash) iall over and massage it in to clean my scalp. Then as I go to wash the lengths, I'll squirt the diluted CO onto the lengths and give it a good massage. I rinse twice in the basin with miracle water and use a cup to help dunk my ends and pour the water over. If I change the water once, I will have used less than two gallons of water this way. (As an alternative to Miracle water, I can use filtered water from a machine here that costs $.20 a gallon. This gets me through the week, and keeps my ends moist. I can do a better wash with more pressure in the shower for my once weekly more thorough hair washing.


Also, if you do wash in the shower, soaking your hair with some mineral/filtered/distiller water first will let your hair soak that up... Then wash hair with tap in the shower... Then final rinse with filtered/distilled/miracle water.

I can get away with the basin method every other wash or so. Washing hair in the shower with shampoo can be a good time to use a chleating shampoo at least monthly. A shower filter may help with this issue too.

White vinegar or ACV diluted 1:10 as a final rinse may be of use to you as well.

pili
May 20th, 2016, 10:22 AM
Start saving up for a shower head filter. That made a huge difference in my hair.

jennareid
May 20th, 2016, 10:29 AM
Our water is incredibly hard at home. We have the pipes/attachments for a water softener, but no room for the softener itself, and no way to re-configure the space around the pipes. We use a Culligan filter shower head. It was around $30 for the head, replacement filters are around $10. It's not perfect but it definitely helps. It's kind of sad but my favourite thing about staying in hotels is that the water is always so soft and it makes my hair and skin feel amazing!

Wildcat Diva
May 20th, 2016, 10:34 AM
Even if you get a shower filter, you'll still need a chleating shampoo to deal with what minerals have already bound to your hair.

DarkChocolate
May 20th, 2016, 10:45 AM
What exactly is hard water? Too much chlorine? Too much sediment?

jennareid
May 20th, 2016, 10:49 AM
High mineral content - calcium, magnesium. My water also has the added bonus of a ton of iron, so that's great for my pipes and hair! :rolleyes:

littlestarface
May 20th, 2016, 11:19 AM
Ya tell me about it, my water is so bad it's hard, smells like rotten eggs, is orange and tastes like metal. I have to use a chelating shampoo just to have nice hair.

Wildcat Diva
May 20th, 2016, 11:22 AM
http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/showthread.php?t=128756&highlight=Miracle+water

lapushka
May 20th, 2016, 11:22 AM
I have had hard water all my life and have not had any issues - at all.

I think it's easy to blame hard water when sometimes it could be something else. Do you dye? Do you bleach? Do you use heat on your hair? All things to eliminate first before putting the blame on "water".

jennareid
May 20th, 2016, 11:35 AM
I don't do anything to my hair but wash it and air dry it. I've used a hairdryer once in about a year, haven't dyed it in 3 years+. It is absolutely, 100% the water. There is a HUGE difference in both mine and my husband's skin AND hair when using softer water.

pili
May 20th, 2016, 11:40 AM
I don't do anything to my hair but wash it and air dry it. I've used a hairdryer once in about a year, haven't dyed it in 3 years+. It is absolutely, 100% the water. There is a HUGE difference in both mine and my husband's skin AND hair when using softer water.

Some people are just more sensitive to certain minerals than others. Also, not all hard water is the same. FL hard water is very different from NorCal hard water.

littlestarface
May 20th, 2016, 11:44 AM
Some people are just more sensitive to certain minerals than others. Also, not all hard water is the same. FL hard water is very different from NorCal hard water.

Yea true so I don't know why someone would come and say "well I have hard water my hairs fine so it must not be the water maybe it's you" is kind of unfair comment to state when said persons water is different then another persons hard water. Plus everyone reacts differently to different stuff so no it can't be just lumped in like that.

Wildcat Diva
May 20th, 2016, 11:55 AM
I kind of take the opposite approach from looking elsewhere than the water.

Start with the first thing you put on your hair, every week, aside from everything else: water.
Water, yes, but water PLUS mucho minerals, maybe. This is a problem that can be addressed no matter what further you do. I myself, never dyed, but did use heat prior to 2012, (never anymore) which I think did damage my ends. Sometimes those damaged ends can get REAL tangled and are prone to build up. I don't use heat anymore, so for me, what is left to address except trimming, the issues of buildup, moisture/protein balance, and minerals in the water?

yogagirl
May 20th, 2016, 12:02 PM
Ugh I hate hard water! I have also only ever lived in areas with hard water. What I do now is this:

- use chelating shampoo every 6-8 weeks: joico k-Pak clarifying
- wet, wash, rinse hair with regular water
- do a finally rinse with filtered or distilled water

I have been doing this for almost a year now and it works really well for me. I have to clarify much less frequently than I used to, so I know it works. Oh and whenever I forget to take the filtered water with me in the shower and end up using tap water for the last rinse, my hair feels noticibly different: drier and much more frizzy and residue-y, ick.

Anje
May 20th, 2016, 12:04 PM
Echoing the suggestions to try a chelating shampoo, maybe rinsing with something like Miracle Water, and get yourself a shower filter. All those will make a difference. An ion exchange softener is a fantastic thing, but it's probably not an option for you unless you're a homeowner.

That said, I've had hard water for a long time, and my hair seems to be fine with it. I really don't even notice a difference in my hair when I wash with hard or softened water. It does make a bit of a difference for my skin, though, and it makes a HUGE difference with my dishes.

Why do you think the hard water will make your henna or cassia go green? That's rather a bizarre claim to me.

Wildcat Diva
May 20th, 2016, 12:15 PM
I think if you are going to do rinses with special water and then wash with tap, don't neglect the first soaking of the hair in the special water, as this is what it soaks up first, and then the tap can run off the hair and rinse products out. Then finish with the special water too as that is what is left in your hair to dry.

quirkybookworm
May 20th, 2016, 12:44 PM
I've always had extremely hard well water. I have virgin hair, I've been completely heat free for a long time (2 years and 8 months, and was mostly heat free before that), I deep condition regularly, and I wear my hair up 24/7. Despite that, my hair is often still dry. It's the one thing that is out of my control when it comes to my hair care routine which is frustrating. I'm looking into getting a filter, but don't have one as of yet.

The only thing that's made a real difference for me is switching shampoo/conditioner, and conditioning like mad. My shampoo and conditioner is just a typical drugstore shampoo and conditioner, but my hair really loves it for whatever reason. I'm not sure that it would work for you, but just in case -- I use the Herbal Essences' smooth collection (the ones in the pink bottles). I also use a leave in as soon as I get out of the shower, and then apply as necessary to my ends through the week. However, while I cannot offer any advice on switching to a non-traditional shampoo as I have no experience, I can completely understand wanting to switch as a lot of people on LHC (and not on LHC) have had amazing results with non-traditional shampoos. You would probably need something very, very, clarifying which can be kind of difficult to find in natural alternatives (but, by no means, not impossible!). Stretching washes has also been very helpful for me -- the less exposure, the less damage.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of advice for fixing the problem. I mostly just wanted to offer some encouragement that it's still very possible to grow out your hair while having hard water. I think that, for most people, our hair can handle a small amount of 'abuse' or an unhealthy habit. So, for example, if you've found a hair care routine that really works for your hair and your hair is in good shape then it can probably handle the occasional blow dry. It's the same with hard water, imo. If you have a hair care routine that works, then you should be okay. Now, if you're going for a really long length or if your hair is naturally more fragile then that might not be applicable, but I think for most people who're growing to waist or tailbone or even classic that they can get away with mild mistreatment. So, what I'm getting at is, don't worry -- hard water isn't going to single handedly ruin your hair, and there are ways to minimize the damage even further :)

Kaya
May 20th, 2016, 12:52 PM
Some people are just more sensitive to certain minerals than others. Also, not all hard water is the same. FL hard water is very different from NorCal hard water.


Yea true so I don't know why someone would come and say "well I have hard water my hairs fine so it must not be the water maybe it's you" is kind of unfair comment to state when said persons water is different then another persons hard water. Plus everyone reacts differently to different stuff so no it can't be just lumped in like that.

This!! I think it's been mentioned in other threads here that people have experienced issues with hard water, myself included. Just because some people don't have problems with hard water doesn't mean everyone will be OK with it. I think it really does depend on how sensitive one's hair is to external/environmental factors. I know mine can be very touchy. Hard water, a drop in humidity, a slight difference in conditioner bottle to bottle are all things that can affect my hair. I never experienced hard water until I moved to the UK and then it trashed my ends until I figured out what was going on. (And no, I do not dye, bleach, or heat treat my hair.) After adding a chelating shampoo to my routine along with a shower filter, my hair is much happier.

Yes, hard water doesn't affect everyone, but to dismiss it as a cause of hair woes doesn't sit right with me. Everyone's hair is different. What you're fine with isn't necessarily fine for others. Those are just my :twocents:

Deborah
May 20th, 2016, 01:24 PM
We moved from a town with slightly hard water to a place with extremely hard water 18 years ago. Not knowing this, I wondered why on earth everything I had happily and successfully used to clean my hair was suddenly worthless. I just experimented with different products until I found some that worked somewhat better. Then I learned about the water hardness issue and again began experimenting. I put a filter on the shower but did not notice a big difference. Then I tried vinegar rinses, as I remembered my mother using them sometimes when we were small children to make our hair easier to comb out. This helped quite a lot. What I eventually worked out is washing my hair, then rinsing completely, then pouring about 40 ounces of cold tap water into which I have thoroughly shaken and dissolved a teaspoon or two of citric acid powder (this is powdered vitamin c) over all of my hair, then letting it drip a little, and then NOT rinsing it out. (To be sure it is thoroughly dissolved, I actually begin with about a cup of hot tap water, add and shake in the citric acid powder quite a lot, then add the cold tap water and shake it a lot more.)

This has made the best difference for me, and leaves my hair very shiny and soft. I let it air dry before I detangle at all, and I can then easily finger detangle a little, then comb it easily.

I don't know if this will work as well for others or not. My hair is stick straight and very fine in texture, but there is a lot of it.

DizzyGinger - I hope you find something that works well for your hair. :flower:

Anje
May 20th, 2016, 01:25 PM
This!! I think it's been mentioned in other threads here that people have experienced issues with hard water, myself included. Just because some people don't have problems with hard water doesn't mean everyone will be OK with it. I think it really does depend on how sensitive one's hair is to external/environmental factors. I know mine can be very touchy. Hard water, a drop in humidity, a slight difference in conditioner bottle to bottle are all things that can affect my hair. I never experienced hard water until I moved to the UK and then it trashed my ends until I figured out what was going on. (And no, I do not dye, bleach, or heat treat my hair.) After adding a chelating shampoo to my routine along with a shower filter, my hair is much happier.

Yes, hard water doesn't affect everyone, but to dismiss it as a cause of hair woes doesn't sit right with me. Everyone's hair is different. What you're fine with isn't necessarily fine for others. Those are just my :twocents:

FWIW, I'm more saying that softening my water doesn't make my hair miraculously better. I love my water softener because it keeps the water from leaving white spots on every surface and scum layers in the shower, but my hair could take it or leave it. Different water, different products, different people might have different results, obviously. :)

lithostoic
May 20th, 2016, 01:38 PM
Try a shower filter first if you haven't already. Sorry I can't remember if you mentioned that or not.

01
May 20th, 2016, 02:14 PM
Yeah, I have hard water too. I'm seriously considering collecting rainwater and washing with that. I've been looking at rainwater collection systems lately. I don't think distilled water is good idea. Theoretically it might work short term (get rid of minerals in the hair) but I wonder if it's a health hazard long term. After all drinking distilled water is unhealthy since it leaches minerals from the body. I wonder if after it'll leach mineral buildup from the hair and will make it look nice it'll start to leach even more stuff and actually cause health problems long term.

Nightshade
May 20th, 2016, 02:27 PM
Echoing the suggestions to try a chelating shampoo, maybe rinsing with something like Miracle Water, and get yourself a shower filter. All those will make a difference. An ion exchange softener is a fantastic thing, but it's probably not an option for you unless you're a homeowner.

That said, I've had hard water for a long time, and my hair seems to be fine with it. I really don't even notice a difference in my hair when I wash with hard or softened water. It does make a bit of a difference for my skin, though, and it makes a HUGE difference with my dishes.

Why do you think the hard water will make your henna or cassia go green? That's rather a bizarre claim to me.

I've heard that, too, but I've not experience it myself and my water is super, super hard. I live in the Missisippi river valley so all the water here is super-mineral saturated because of all the limestone dissolved into it. It's so high that it acts as a pH buffer and tops out my aquarium's test strips (which run to 8.6, so I've no idea how high it actually is). We don't have a water softener so I wash my hair with hard water constantly.

I had someone contact me recently about this cassia turning hair green thing. They'd gotten "cassia" off amazon and wrote to me because it'd left their hair greenish. I responded that I'd heard of that, but had never experience it with my water and the cassia I use. I sent them some of said cassia and they used that without issue. No green, just gold. Which leads me to believe that it's something in some of the "cassias" out there more than it is the water itself.

All that said, it might also be the type of mineral. I'd imagine copper is going to tint hair greenish, but even copper shouldn't react with pure plant matter in such a way that it turns green.

Wildcat Diva
May 20th, 2016, 02:41 PM
The one time I tried cassia, my perception was that is had left a tint on my hair a greenish gold color, and it was from Hennasooq, so good quality.

I am glad Kaya piped in, I thought about asking her to speak up here.

littlestarface
May 20th, 2016, 02:49 PM
My henna is affected by the hard water here, I have to use distilled or our spring water we drink or else the henna is rusty color with the hard water. So for me hard water effects everything my hair, tub, sink, henna you name it, we can't even drink it its so nasty.

SparrowWings
May 20th, 2016, 03:50 PM
...citric acid powder (this is powdered vitamin c)
Citric acid is not vitamin C. That would be ascorbic acid (though I think that's actually only part of vitamin C, but it's the commonly known part at least). I have heard of both being used at various dilutions around this forum, though.

I was having major static (and thereby, tangle) issues by the end of the winter, and much of it can be blamed on everything being dry, but I did final rinses with apple cider vinegar (diluted; I don't remember how much, but I posted it somewhere around here) for four washes, and then switched to citric acid rinses. It's somewhere around two months between the two, now, and I am definitely having less static and fewer tangles, and my hair has turned super-slippery. It's also a bit lighter/brighter, from a nondescript light brownish back to a much nicer golden dark blonde. Just last night, I washed without doing the final rinse, and while my hair seems much the same texturally, it seemed to have a distinctly ashy sheen this morning. I can't recall having heard of mineral buildup turning hair ashy, though, just brassy or faintly greenish, so I'm not quite sure what to make of that. It also never occurred to me to pre-wet the hair with the treated water before using tap water. And my citric acid has been soooo diluted more recently, I've really been questioning if it's doing anything anymore, now that the bulk of the long-term buildup has been removed, but for the first half-dozen washes, the rinses definitely improved things.

All that said, DizzyGinger, you said that your hair is having trouble, but what is the problem? What is your hair doing to show its unhappiness? It's a bit hard for anyone to suggest anything more specific without knowing what problem to target.

lapushka
May 20th, 2016, 03:57 PM
I guess it's because I have never known softer water. :shrug:

No, I did try washing with distilled water once and, honestly, harsher water cleans an oily scalp *much* better, well mine at least. I think it also depends on the kinds of things you use to wash. Are you CO, WO, or any other method instead of regular shampoo. But I stand by what I said. If dye, bleach and heat haven't been eliminated, don't blame the water so fast!