Hard Water Hair
There are several household problems that can occur when the main source of water contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. A few of the most irritating issues do include soap scum, scale deposits on bathroom fixtures, a damaged appliance, decreased soap lathering, irritated skin, and hard water hair. Individuals who live in areas of the US that are prone to hardness need to understand how the dissolved minerals might affect their skin and hair so that they can eliminate the problem.
The Source of the Problem
The severity of water hardness varies depending on where a homeowner lives and the concentration of calcium and magnesium that is found in the soil. As water molecules travel through the ground, they dissolve minerals and carry them to municipal collection facilities where they are pumped to residential neighborhoods. Once the water is allowed to enter the home, it is exposed to heat and oxygen which causes it to precipitate out of the water and form scale. When water is used to shower or bathe, it interacts with soap in a way that causes the detergent activity to become less effective and might result in soap deposits on the body that can exacerbate eczema and hard water hair. In addition, many homeowners use larger amounts of soap when hardness causing ions are present which also contributes to the damage that is caused to the skin and hair.
Hair is primarily composed of a protein known as keratin and it grows from follicles that are located in the lower region of the skin. The cuticle is the section that is visible and it consists of overlapping layers of dead keratin cells. This segment of the hair is designed to protect the softer inner layers known as the cortex and medulla. When hardness causing particles are present in the plumbing, they interact with soap to create salt deposits that cause the layers of dead cells to protrude outwards instead of laying flat. This causes hard water hair to feel rough and may make it more difficult to untangle. The soap can also be more difficult to wash out and might result in the need for higher quantities than would be necessary in cases where soft water is being used.
Commercial Shampoos and Conditioners
Shampoos that are widely used today and that are distributed throughout the US are not as susceptible to the effects of hardness causing ions because they replace the surfactants found in the natural soaps with synthetic surfactants that are manufactured in a factory. Chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), and Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS) are derived from petroleum rather than a renewable source like that of coconut and olive oil. Lathering agents are also added to a commercial product to allow it to work well in all types of water regardless of the presence of calcium and magnesium ions. While commercial shampoos do counteract many of the hard water hair problems that are encountered in some regions of the US, they also remove the oils produced by the body that create a shiny and strong cuticle. Conditioner is often added to help replace these oils, but it is not as healthy or effective as the natural oils.
Eliminating Hard Water Hair
Homeowners who have tested their water and found high levels of hardness may want to consider having a softener installed in order to remove the calcium and magnesium ions that are causing problems. There are a number of products available that can complete the task and we publish several reviews to help guide the purchasing process. For those who do not plan on using a softener, rain water or distilled water might present a viable alternative. Once the water is softened, hard water hair is not likely to be a problem and the less harmful natural soaps can be used rather than the harsh commercial products that most people purchase.
Those who experience a buildup can try using a chelating shampoo designed to remove all of the mineral accumulations. Terminology such as clarifying and neutralizing are often used to describe a chelating product. These should be used sparingly since they often do strip oil and minerals from hair. A conditioner needs to be used following this shampoo. An alternative is a rinse concocted from apple cider vinegar and distilled water. This should be used weekly and need not be followed with a conditioner.
January 8, 2015 / Brian / 0
Categories: Hard Water Hair