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No, I’m not talking about water that’s physically hard in the literal sense (that would be kind of weird). The hard water I’m referring to is H2O that contains an above-normal concentration of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, limestone, chalk and dolomite. Just because the water coming out of your showerhead looks mineral-free doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. And washing your hair with hard water day after day could take a toll on both its appearance and health.

Hard Water and Hair Problems

To better understand the effect hard water has on your hair, you must first look at the hair shaft. If you were to observe a single strand of hair under a magnifying glass, you would notice that it’s made of multiple asymmetrical scales, similar to the shingles on your home’s roof. When hair is exposed to hard water, the excess mineral content makes these scales stand up, which in makes your hair rough and distressed.

The problems of hard water don’t stop there. Once your hair has accumulated mineral deposits from the water, it will become more difficult to rinse out all of the shampoo and conditioner. Hard water sticks to your hair more so than regular, “soft” water. So when you try to wash your hair, you’ll find it leaves a sticky film behind that’s difficult to clean.

How To Test Water Hardness

There are several do-it-yourself methods for testing water hardness, but a far easier and more effective way is to use a water testing kit. Available at most home improvement stores, these kits allow homeowners to test their water for contaminants. Just place a small amount of water on the testing strip, and it will reveal the presence and concentration of minerals and other contaminants.

What Can I Do?

If you’ve tested your water and found that it is indeed hard, you should take action to fix it. Assuming you are on a public water system, you may be able to call and complain to the Water Department. Like most government-run organizations, though, they’ll often drag their feet for weeks or even months before addressing the problem.

The easiest solution is to install a water softener showerhead, which does just that: softeners the waters. When hard water passes through it, the hard minerals are replaced by soft minerals – a phenomenon referred to as an “ionic exchange.”

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