Hydrologist, water engineer, water sommelier (yes, that’s a thing) — you don’t have to be any of these to know that not all water is the same. It’s most noticeable when you go on vacation, let’s say from New York to Las Vegas, and your hair feels totally different after washing it. Water can be harder in some places around the country, and the level of hardness — which is based on the amount of buildup of minerals in the water (the more minerals, the harder the water) — can make one city better for a wash, color, and blowout than another.
So what exactly does hard water do to hair? Two things, according to Bronwen Robinson, hairstylist and executive director of global brand artistry at Bumble and Bumble. First, hard water can make your strands more difficult to style. “It makes hair feel less pliable,” Robinson told Allure, “and if you’re doing a round brush blow-dry, it really doesn’t want to take the shape of the hairbrush.”
That means, your blowout could be bouncier if you lived somewhere else. Also, hard water causes color-treated hair to fade quicker. “The mineral buildup can interfere with color,” says cosmetic chemist Ginger King, “The ion deposits, like that from calcium salts, can change the color. The iron from pipes can also have an effect, but these are extreme conditions, in extreme hard water areas.” As for physical damage to the hair, King assures us that there is none. “Though [hair] feels rougher, it doesn’t make [the fiber] weaker.”
The good news is that there are ways to adjust to the hardness of the water. Robinson suggests a pre-shampoo treatment to protect hair before water hits it, and limiting the amount of washes you have per week. “It’s all about exposure,” she says. That means if you live in a place with hard water and you have hair that tends to get oily, dry shampoo might be your BFF.
So next time you turn on your faucet, pay attention. Does the water slick through your hair and leave them feeling extra soft? If not, you may want pack your bags for a place that does – or prepare accordingly.
More on hair health:
- The Secret Ingredient to Healthy Hair, According to Researchers
- The 5 Best New Products for Scalp Health
- 13 Healthy-Hair Essentials You Need for Summer
How To Keep Your Hair Healthy: