Here’s How Hard Water and Soft Water Can Affect Your Hair Texture

July 15, 2022
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal

Try as you might, loading up on shine-boosting conditioners, softening hair masks and styling products galore won’t make your hair any silkier or smoother if your shower water is sabotaging you. Confused? Well as luck would have it, our good hair days (or really, really bad hair days) can be caused by whether our shower is pumping out hard or soft water

Figuring out if hard or soft water is responsible for the changes in texture, buildup and oil in our hair and on our scalp is kinda, sort of, majorly important. To get more details about how hard and soft water can affect our hair (and how to reverse its effects), we turned to Ron Lopez, a L’Oréal Paris Professional national artist. 

How Can Hard or Soft Water Affect Your Hair? 

When talking about hard versus soft water, it’s important to note that there’s no easy way to tell what kind of water you have in your home. According to Lopez, it really depends on the mineral content in your area. Hard water is typically rich in minerals, namely calcium and magnesium, while soft water has little to no mineral content. While you won’t be able to identify if you have hard or soft water just by staring at the spigot, you’ll probably have an idea based on changes in your hair texture and color. 

If you wash your hair regularly with harder water, you’ll notice dryness, dullness and green or orange tints to color-treated hair. “Harder water tends to strip natural oils from the scalp and hair as well as pull color and moisture from the hair,” says Lopez. 

On the other hand, soft water will cause your texture to feel softer and silkier, but can also leave hair feeling heavy. “While your hair feels softer to the touch, you may notice that it seems like you can’t rinse the soap or shampoo off of your hair and scalp,” he explains. “Because the water isn’t as aggressive on color and texture, you want to be mindful of scalp exfoliation and removing excess product or oils built up.” 

How to Compensate for Changes in Texture 

If you suspect you have hard water and are sick of brittle, discolored hair, it might be worth investing in a water filter that fits directly on the head of the shower. “These filters can be found everywhere from Amazon to Sephora and do an amazing job of both preserving color and not excessively stripping oils from the hair and the scalp,” says Lopez. For an affordable option, we like the Aquasana AQ-4150 Showerhead Filter System, which filters out harsh chemicals and balances the water’s pH. 

Another way to combat dryness? Reach for a repairing shampoo and moisturizing conditioner. We suggest the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Bonding Shampoo and Conditioner, a duo that’s designed to help strengthen hair bonds, which in turn helps to prevent more dryness and breakage. 

“The L’Oréal Professional Absolut Repair Shampoo is great to moisturize both the hair and the scalp,” adds Lopez. You should also stick to color-safe products and follow up with a leave-in conditioning treatment, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream.  

If you have soft water, however, and are struggling with weighed-down hair, greasiness or leftover buildup from your hair products, Lopez suggests using a volumizing shampoo, like L’Oréal Professional Volumetry Shampoo, and opting for sulfate-free and paraben-free hair-care products. Make sure to use as little product as possible (think: a quarter-sized amount), so you can minimize the potential of lingering residue.

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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