Depending on where you live, the water you use to shower with can have different, and sometimes damaging, effects on your hair. When I first moved away for school, I immediately noticed the difference in the texture of my hair, and was horrified when I saw I was shedding more than ever before. After a little research, I finally figured out the cause, and it is NOT a result of stress, as many people would imagine.

Two words: Hard. Water.

Hard water is nothing to be worried about. Quite simply, it is just water that contains more minerals, like calcium and magnesium, as opposed to soft water, which is mineral free. Rainwater is considered soft water, while hard water is often thought of as well water.

“According to a U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that more than 85 percent of the water used by consumers in the US can be classified as some level of ‘hard’ water,” says Chagrin Valley, a soap company with products made specifically to counteract the damaging effects of hard water. The levels of minerals, however, can vary from location to location, sometimes making the adjustment from living with soft water more difficult.

How does it work?


Photo by Meredith Roberson

When you wash your hair with hard water, your soap will react with the minerals, leaving a film and causing even more tangles. Over time, your hair can become knotty, feeling especially dry and rough. On top of this, the mineral residue left over from showering can cause your hair to fall out more easily. If this sounds familiar to you, don’t freak out! There are a few simple tricks you can do to save the condition of your hair.

What can you do?

First of all, you can purchase shower heads to filter the water, but they can be expensive, and if you live in a dorm, really not an option. You can also rinse your hair with bottled water after every shower, but that technique can be wasteful and time-consuming. What I have found works best for me is a clarifying shampoo that is specifically designed to strip your hair of leftover minerals, making it lighter and shinier.

The kind I bought is called Sunday Shampoo. It is recommended you only use a small amount once a week in order to keep your hair naturally healthy. Other variations are available, including conditioner and hair sprays. After only a few uses, I have already noticed less frequent shedding, as well as more shinier hair. Hard water who?