Does hard water cause hair loss?
Most of us are all too aware of the problems hard water causes but could it also lead to hair loss? You don’t have to go far to find contradicting views on the matter. We believe it could definitely contribute to hair loss and we’ll explain why in this article.
Do you have hard water?
If you live in the UK or the USA, there is a good chance that you live in a hard water area. Around 60% of the UK and 85% of the USA have hard, or very hard, water. Simply Google ‘hard water map’ to get an idea of the levels in your country. Most people are usually aware whether they have hard water from the skin and hair problems it causes (see our FAQ for more info).
There have been studies where strands of hair, that were lost during combing, have been immersed in hard water, and others in distilled water and the effects were then measured afterward. This procedure was repeated over 30 days and then the strength and elasticity were measured. The study concluded that hard water does not interfere with the tensile strength and elasticity of hair. More information can be found here.
So what’s the problem…? Well, hard water contains dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which leave behind a scummy residue after washing. This can lead to numerous skin conditions, such as acne and eczema. Hard water strips moisture away from your skin and hair by removing the natural oils your body produces. This can leave your skin feeling dry, itchy and irritated. You may find yourself scratching your scalp or using more products to combat this problem.
Do shampoos cause hair loss?
Due to the higher concentration of minerals in hard water, shampoos and soaps don’t create much of a lather. You may find yourself having to use more shampoo, or several rinse and repeats, before feeling like your hair is truly clean. This could be troublesome as many shampoos contain ingredients, such as Sulphates, which are harsh chemicals that dry out the hair. Ideally, you should use a shampoo that is a mild cleanser and use it for the shortest amount of time possible.
Tips for washing hair in hard water
Firstly, hard water causes multiple problems for not only your body but your appliances too. Purchasing a water softener is the most effective option, providing you can afford it. This is because a softener will remove 99% of the minerals within the water in your home. They work by using a process called ion exchange, which removes the Calcium and Magnesium from the water and replaces it with sodium (salt). They are plumbed into your water supply, either underneath your kitchen sink or where your water supply enters your home.
The next best option would be to purchase a shower head that is specifically designed to reduce hard water. This is a more affordable option and most work on a similar principle of filtering out the impurities in the water. See our guide for the Best Shower Filters for Hard Water. Other options include showering with rainwater or using a Reverse Osmosis system.
If you cannot afford a softener or shower filter, then you should keep the temperature mildly warm, use a mild shampoo and spend a minimal amount of time showering. Hopefully, if you follow these tips you’ll find the signs of hard water on your hair will diminish. Your hair will be looking healthier in no time and hair loss can potentially be reduced.