Is Your Water Ruining Your Curls?


You’re always sure to cleanse your curls to remove build-up. You deep condition your hair on a regular basis. You trim your hair when needed. Basically, you’re doing the ABCs of maintaining healthy strands, but somehow you still suffer from tangled, dull and lackluster hair. If this sounds familiar, there might be a simple answer to this problem.

Common causes of dry, matted curls

While there are a lot of factors that can reduce the vitality of your curls. Some commonly cited examples include:

  • overusing heat styling tools
  • over-processing hair (e.g. harsh chemical dyes or improper application)
  • poor nutrition and fluid intake
  • being iron or zinc deficient

While these examples are most commonly reported, there is another cause that is often overlooked and that’s hard water.

What is hard water?

Hard water is high in mineral content, especially calcium and magnesium. This is in part due to the fact that it runs through porous rocks, such as limestone, picking up minerals along the way. In contrast to hard water, soft water contains fewer impurities, because it runs over non-porous rocks such as granite or slate.

How does hard water affect my hair?

“Hard water and well water can negatively affect both the color and texture of your hair. It causes color fading and dryness, which leads to frizz because of the excess mineral buildup in hair.”

-Mark Mena, celebrity stylist to Christy Turlington, Nikki Minaj and Mindy Kaling


Hard water tends to make the cuticles of the hair stand up. As a result, hair often feels rough and tangled. It can also form a film, making it challenging to moisturize your hair and often causing flaky scalp. On top of this, if you use soap as your shampoo, hard water will often interact with molecules in the soap and leave deposits and buildup on your strands. Note: this is why we always suggest following a shampoo bar with a vinegar rinse (more details below). Additionally, this is why our triple herb soap contains a chelating agent: citric acid and sole (water that is fully saturated with salt).

Interesting fact: Did you know scientific studies have associated hard water with increased eczema in babies and children?

How do I know if I have hard water?

If you suspect that you have hard water you can go to this website and find your region and rating.

Additionally, there are tale-tell signs that you can observe in order to confirm the quality of your water. You probably have hard water, if your…

  • …hot water kettle always has a layer of white film on the bottom.
  • …dishes are spotted with white water marks after removing them from the dishwasher…
  • .. soaps are detergent don’t lather much..

What can I do about it?

Don’t worry we aren’t going to propose you pack up and move somewhere with softer water. There are techniques you can integrate into your routine to reduce the impact.

Filter it. You can purchase a carbon filter for your shower head like the one pictured below.

Image result for shower filter

Use an acid. A simple, cost-effective solution is to use apple cider vinegar. Once per week, after cleansing your hair, apply a solution of diluted vinegar (1 – 2 tablespoons to 2 cups of water). Pour it over your hair, rub it in for two minutes and rinse. This helps to remove limescale deposits. You could also use citric acid rinses as your acid 1/2 – 1 teaspoon in 2 cups of water.

photo by rawpixel

Use a clarifying shampoo. Personally, I find this type of product too harsh for my tight curls. If you do decide to use one, I’d suggest no more than 3-4 times per year.

Install a water softener. A tank filled with salt brine is used to exchange sodium ions with magnesium, iron and calcium ions, which results in softer water. This is a costly alternative and more complicated than installing a filter.

Do you have hard water? What are some of your remedies?

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