Hard water impacts your skin and hair more than you'd expect.
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If you feel like your hair and skin look better in certain cities than in others (say, when you're traveling), you could be on to something. This isn't necessarily just the result of a change in climate. The water we use for showering differs from place to place; and if you're an urbanite, it's important to know that many cities have hard water, which can wreak havoc on hair. "More than 85 percent of water in the United States is hard water," says Kattia Solano, colorist and owner of Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City.

woman washing hair in shower

Hard water is mineral-rich, containing larger amounts of copper, calcium, magnesium, and even chlorine—your hair's worst enemy, Solano adds. "Overexposure to these minerals can affect your hair color and texture, and can cause hair to appear damaged and brittle," she explains. "Cities that use well water are also prone to these damaging minerals. Well water changes the hair's natural pH, which can result in colored hair turning orange or green." And hard water isn't just detrimental for hair. Skin wise, there may be a relationship between hard water and eczema, says Dr. Peter Lio, MD, clinical assistant professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University.

So, what can you do about it? That's where a water softener comes in. Installed in your home, these filtration systems get rid of the hard minerals in your water (you can buy one at Home Depot, Costco, or Amazon, and then have it professionally installed). Though it's often an investment, it's one that could be worthwhile, especially if you're someone who deals with dry skin or colors your hair regularly (think of all the money you spend getting your hair done literally going down the drain as you wash it). According to Solano, "investing in a water softener is one of the best moves you can make to preserve your hair color and health." Softer, less itchy skin is also a bonus.

In the meantime, Solano recommends trying an apple cider vinegar rinse to bring your hair back to a normal pH balance. "Purchase an all-natural apple cider vinegar," she says. "And make sure your bottle reads 'with the mother,' as 'mother' additives in this vinegar contain strands of protein, enzymes, and antioxidants that will help normalize the pH of your hair. Dilute the vinegar with water and apply from roots to ends after shampooing." On the skincare front, make sure to replenish moisture immediately after showering with gentle lotions made for sensitive skin, like Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream ($34, dermstore.com), which has the National Eczema Association seal of approval.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
March 29, 2020
I've been reading articles that soft water is really good for the skin and hair. I guess having water softener is very beneficial not just to our skin but also to our pipes, faucets, showerheads and water-based appliances. Water softeners requires regular maintenance and I found this article which is very useful for households with water softeners.