What is water doing to your hair?
If you live in the capital it is very likely that you are familiar with what they call ‘hard water’. The stuff that generally makes itself known by clogging up your water laden equipment like kettles and shower heads, with white deposits that refuse to be removed.
What makes hard water ‘hard’ is its mineral content such as calcium, magnesium and manganese. The greater the presence of these minerals in the water, the harder the water will be. You can identify hard water by its reluctance to form a lather with soap. This problem doesn’t occur with soft water, it tends to lather easily. You can also note soft water by it’s appearance - you can visibly see bubbles.
It isn't just London suffering. According to the Water Quality Association 85% of the country is affected by the hard water plight which, is likely to be causing a build up around the most visible places in your home. However, what, might you ask, is it doing to some less obvious areas of your life?
Many of you have asked about the effects of hard water on your hair and have explored the idea of installing a softener to remove the dissolved ion compounds. This is a great idea if you have the ability to do so but for many this is not an option.
As you wash your hair, the minerals in the hard water are deposited on the shaft and the scalp as they would anywhere else. As a result, the mineral buildup should be removed from the hair in order to gain maximum impact from your hair products. The best way to remove the build up is with a clarifying shampoo but it’s worth noting the science…
Minerals respond to static electricity and hair naturally has a negative charge as does the dirt in the hair. Shampooing hair works as a result of the attraction between positive water and shampoo molecules which cling on to negative debris and rinse it away. With that in mind, the more damaged your hair is the the more negative the charge. This means that if your hair is damaged or has recently undergone a chemical process, it is more susceptible to mineral deposits. This is a double negative, because a clarifying shampoo will also work to dry the hair further potentially causing more damage. So what to do?
Well, we should be clarifying our hair every so often to remove build up but this can leave the hair feeling stripped. The good news is that due to the alkaline nature of clarifying shampoos, it causes the shaft to swell which in turn opens the cuticles to create a porous environment ready to absorb moisture. To counteract this lack of moisture, a deep conditioning treatment should be used post-shampoo followed by either an acidic rinse or product (like aloe vera) to firmly close the cuticle. You should then layer products as normal.
So there you have it. How to combat hard water in your home 101.