View Full Version : Do Sulfates / Silicones Help Hair Washed in Hard Water?

July 18th, 2019, 08:45 AM
So, some of you may remember me from back in April. I posted about having hair breakage issues. Whenever I'd brush / comb my hair, no matter how gently, I'd get little pieces ranging from 1/2 inch to 6ish inches on the counter. The only thing in my routine that had changed, was I moved to an area with hard water and we get buildup on our faucets / showerhead that has to be cleaned off pretty frequently, so I can only imagine what it does to hair.

I started incorporating chelating into my routine, but I've only been doing that once every two weeks or so... sometimes not even that often, because it can be drying, and I wasn't really seeing much improvement in the breakage.

I've been using Acure shampoo & conditioner... they are silicone / sulfate free natural shampoos... and it's gotten to the point where I can't even run my hands through my hair without it catching, and never mind trying to shampoo... nearly impossible trying to work that shampoo through my hair without my hands catching constantly!

Well I've gotten to the point where I'm just so fed up that I decided to go back to a Silicone / Sulfate shampoo and ditch the all natural crap... today was my first day using and my hands GLIDED through my hair when washing without any issues! Obviously I can't report on the breakage right now because I think I've damaged my hair from this routine for so long that it'll take time to bounce back (I have mid-shaft weak spots throughout my hair and I think that's where its breaking from).. so that'll take time to fix, but I'm hoping in the long run that MAYBE this will solve my breakage woes!

Also, for what it's worth, I know it's not health related whatsoever because I am 21 weeks pregnant and I've been monitored for everything under the sun since the beginning because that's just their routine. And also, the breakage started before I got pregnant so I know that's not the issue.

ANYWAY, now that I've ranted long enough... I guess I'm just curious if anyone who has hard water notices that their hair does much better with coney and sulfate shampoos / condish?

Thank you :)

July 18th, 2019, 08:59 AM
Officially the water around here is ‘fairly hard’ and I’ve always used cones and sulfates. I feel I need it so it could be cause and effect. I have nearly no experiences outside of the Netherlands so I cannot compare my hair to soft water

July 18th, 2019, 10:12 AM
I have really hard water and I use sulfates and silicones.

Sulfate-free didn't work, I didn't get breakage, but my scalp just resisted with a flare-up. I have SD, seborrheic dermatitis, so I need to cleanse properly. But that is the only reason I use sulfates.

July 18th, 2019, 10:17 AM
Pantene Aqua Light. It helped me a lot. It's not really a chelating shampoo, it's a regular shampoo for oily hair, but it contains citric acid high in the ingredient list, and citric acidd is known for removing har water buildup.

July 18th, 2019, 10:41 AM
I have hard water and terrible luck with the cones mixing with the minerals, which creates a thick, grey, gummy coating that’s very difficult to remove even with sulfates or harsh non sulfate cleansers that my scalp can’t really handle. Cone free is better for me, which is fine because I also have a sulfate sensitivity :shrug:

July 18th, 2019, 10:41 AM
We have very hard water and sulphates disagree with my scalp and always make my hair feel drier - but not all hard water is the same. It really depends on the exact chemistry of your water (higher pH = more deposits, plus actual minerals in the water vary) and the chemistry of your hair. http://science-yhairblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/hard-water-and-your-hair.html
Different products work differently for different people *anyway* so with water quality being yet another factor, it's no surprise what works for people is so variable. Personally I now use water-soluble silicones because they make my hair feel better, but I've not noticed any change in breakage or splits (alas).

Btw the Science-y Hair Blog link also has some homemade chelating rinses that shouldn't be so harsh on your hair, if you still want to try chelating. I'm glad you've already found something that works better for you than before :)

I do have a theory that people with hard water might need more conditioner / more moisturising routines than those who don't, but I have no evidence for that - just a gut feeling based on discussions we've had here.

July 18th, 2019, 11:16 AM
Thanks Lapushka.. I am hoping this routine works for me!

July 18th, 2019, 11:18 AM
Joules, that's funny. I am actually using Pantene now, but it's the Beautiful Lengths set. I noticed it still has Citric Acid pretty high on the list, along with EDTA which I heard is also good for chelating? So hopefully this is just as good as Aqua Light!

July 18th, 2019, 11:18 AM
Jenn.... gah, that sounds dreadful! I hope that doesn't happen... LOL.

July 18th, 2019, 11:19 AM
MusicalSpoons, thanks for the info! I agree.. everyones water and hair is different, so in the end it's so hard to know what's best without trying different things... trial and error I suppose... but I've had quite enough of that, I REALLY hope this is the routine that breaks the breakage cycle! I will definitely check out that science blog to get some more chelating ideas.

By the way... you mentioned you have trouble with breakage and splits as well. Do you suspect yours is also water related? Do you have breakage in a similar manner as mine? (breakage in varying lengths with brushing, etc). Just curious!

July 18th, 2019, 02:27 PM
Pantene Aqua Light. It helped me a lot. It's not really a chelating shampoo, it's a regular shampoo for oily hair, but it contains citric acid high in the ingredient list, and citric acidd is known for removing har water buildup.

It is my favorite shampoo and I use it "almost" weekly. Next week I'll be clarifying with the Pantene clarifying shampoo (also long discontinued), but I have "some" and a bottle left.

Ligeia Noire
July 18th, 2019, 06:22 PM
We have hard water here too. Not like yours. We don't need to clean faucets and all, just the pinkish overcast in the toilet, at the end of the week. But I cannot imagine, not using silicones or a very rich conditioner after chelating. I have tried an array of chelating shampoos and they are all very drying. I kind of gave up on finding one that isn't. However, it strips your hair so much that if you don't apply something that gives your hair tons of slip, it will break and it will break a lot. I've never really cared about organic or natural oriented shampoos and conditioners until registering here. So, i did go through my trying period and i can say that with natural or more organic conditioners, I would have never reached calf. My hair is very very very prone to tangles and matts.
Silicones are essential. I found my balance with Andalou naturals... it's organic but it has silicones. And i keep my pantene for chelating days.
I will repeat, do what your hair likes, not what you would like for your hair.

July 19th, 2019, 07:21 AM
Yep, there goes my age-old motto: it's about what your hair wants not about what you want for your hair.

But it's still true!

I went through a lot of experimenting myself along the way, and now I am at a point where I know what my hair's needs are, and my scalp's needs because they are particular! :roll:

July 19th, 2019, 07:29 AM
Thank you Ligeia and Lapushka :) Great advice.

July 19th, 2019, 08:29 AM
Whatever works for you is the best method ;) I do use silicone-free and sulfate-free products because my hair is more moisturized after using them, but I'm not a purist (I do use sulfates and silicones when I'm at my parents place).

August 22nd, 2019, 08:06 AM
I have had the same experience. I live in an area with hard water plus I could not stand the feel of silicone on my skin. I had many trials trying to stay away from them (to include trying to follow “natural” routines) but I ended up with a ton of breakage. Just this week I gave up and tried silicones again. It was if my hair gave a big sigh and was shouting “thank you”. I received a few ideas how to keep the slimey feeling away from my skin but I will now feed my hair as much silicone that it wants.

August 22nd, 2019, 08:11 AM
Oh and I forgot to mention that we have a shower head water filter and that didn’t even help with the hard water issues.