Have you ever washed your hair while travelling and noticed a dramatic difference?
Maybe your hair is softer than usual, or it feels drier and more brittle. If it’s the latter, you’ve likely come across hard water. Water hardness plays a huge role in hair health and your ability to work with it as a salon professional. Below, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about hard water; what it is, what it does, and the best hair treatments for hard water.
What is Hard Water & Why Should We Care?
Hard water refers to freshwater supplies with high levels of magnesium and calcium. As rainwater falls, it naturally picks up these minerals, filters through soil and rocks, and remains in the water in our taps and showers. While it’s safe to use, regularly showering in hard water without preventative care can wreak havoc on hair. This is due to hard water minerals coating the hair, forming a moisture barrier that makes it difficult for nutrients to penetrate the hair. Over time, this buildup can cause a flaky and dry scalp, frizziness, dullness, slower hair growth, breakage, and thinning.
Hard water buildup also impacts the hair’s ability to repair these issues by preventing hair from absorbing products and treatments. This is especially an issue for colourists, as hair colour will likely fade quicker, which means more maintenance and ultimately less value for your clients.
Hard Water vs Soft Water & How to Identify it
Whether water is hard or soft depends on the concentration of minerals in the water in a specific region. For example, water hardness varies across Australia; the water in Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney has a low mineral count and is considered soft, while Brisbane and Adelaide's water is very hard.
While a quick internet search can tell you whether the water in your city or state is considered hard or soft, the presence of hard water in the home can also look like
- Washed clothes feeling rough and rigid.
- White spots on dishes after washing.
- White scale around sinks and bathtubs.
There are also tell-tale signs of hard water-affected hair; you just need to know what to look for. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, other signs of hard water on hair include
- Dryness despite the client using serums and conditioning masks.
- Dull, lifeless hair due to the minerals weighing the hair down.
- Increased dandruff.
How to Repair Hard Water Hair?
If your client is experiencing damage from hard water, the best thing you can do is educate and recommend products for preventative care. Below, we’ve put together solutions and our must-haves to combat hard water in the salon or home.