Hard Water and Hair Breakage

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By Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care

Are you having chronic hair breakage? Your hard water could be to blame. While black hair needs water to thrive, hard water can be a total hair breakage nightmare. The very thing that we depend on to take care of our hair and fight breakage can also be the very thing that slowly destroys it. Unfortunately, hard water is a common problem. Nearly 85% of homes have hard water coming through the taps.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that is full of dissolved minerals and metals like calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, silica, lead, and manganese, scientists at Malibu Wellness Solutions say. But you’re thinking, ” . . . wait, minerals are good, right?”Well, yes and no. Minerals are excellent INSIDE the body as part of a healthy, well balanced diet. Inside, they are able to travel through the blood stream and nourish hair follicles for new hair cell regeneration. But minerals deposited on the exterior of the hair shaft can cause breakage and dryness problems in black hair care.

How Does Hard Water damage Black Hair?

Minerals like calcium and magnesium can collect in water and bind to the hair shaft during normal washing and conditioning. Our hair naturally has a negative electrical charge, Malibu Wellness Solutions scientists say. Minerals like calcium and magnesium carry a positive charge and when they encounter hair, they attach to it. The chlorine that is often added to hard water also has negative effects on black hair. These minerals have a drying effect on the outer hair cuticle because they prevent moisture from entering the hair. The result? Hard, dry, tangly, puffy, strange-colored black hair. The deposits can also build up on the scalp and cause a dandruff-like condition to form.

The minerals in hard water also react with shampoo detergents and make them less likely to produce a big, foamy lather. Those with no-lye relaxers are also no strangers to mineral buildup on the hair shaft. Like hard water, no-lye relaxers also leave calcium deposits behind on the hair shaft which can dry out black hair if not treated promptly. Interestingly, the hard water mineral deposits left on black hair can also interfere with the success of future chemical services including relaxers and colors.

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54 thoughts on “Hard Water and Hair Breakage

  1. I moved from a soft water area to a hard water area and the difference in my hair and skin was overwhelming. To make matters worse, the air is dry here. Even after using superb products to condition, moisturize and seal my hair; it gets dry, dull and lifeless again within 12 – 24 hours. I tried shampooing away the build-up as a remedy, but that just made my hair feel more rough and dry. What works for me is just constantly repeating the process that brings my hair back to life- spray with filtered water, add a leave-in conditioner, moisturize, and seal (with olive and sweet almond oils). It may only last a day, but at least I don’t get breakage.

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  2. Wow i answered yes to all of those questions! I’ve heard the tern before but never considered it. I wish this post mentioned more ways on how to combat it

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  3. Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem with your site in web explorer, might check this? IE still is the marketplace leader and a big part of other folks will leave out your magnificent writing because of this problem.

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  4. hi pls i need good suggestions on what to do now my hair has gone so bad that people ask me if i cut my hair,cos here in ukraine their water is very bad,permanent hard water am gonna be staying here for acouple of years so need some good hair remedy to gain back my former long hair back.plsssssssssss thanks

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  5. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of Hard Water and Hair Breakage | Black Girl with Long Hair . Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

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  6. Hi to everyone,

    This is mostly for all the naturals living in Germany. I also live in Germany and as I couldn’t find any good product for my hair,I searched until I found this page where i bought the shea butter. 1kg normal shea butter for 14€, its a lot. The best is to buy it with friends. Die Kalt Gepresste Shea Butter is the best in the market, but price is also higher.http://www.afrikahandel.de/de/Sheabutter—1.html?&sid=0bb660e8db29b74368c4c380569e8ce3

    My hair care regimen is: I wash my hair every week with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration (blue bottle) and then in a glass of warm water i mix 2 spoon of baking soda, a drop of olive oil, a drop of jojoba oil and my Pantene Deep Conditioner for dry hair (or any other I have at hand) I mix everything good together and put it in my hair for 10mins or less and then I rinse it out with warm water. Once I dried my hair, I separate it in 4 or 6 sections and apply a leaving conditioner, then the Shea butter ( I take the amount of a lentil and rub it in my hands until it melt) and then into 1 of the sections and so with each section and at last I put in a little bit jojoba oil mixed with Castor oil or on its own (but not too much) and twist or plait each section (or any hairstyle of choice, sometimes I use flexirods). The next day my hair feel like its in heaven. And each night before bed, I spray my hair with a mixture of filtered water, leave in conditioner, jojoba oil (I love it), Castor oil and olive oil. Once a month I do a intensive deep conditioner treatment. And I take twice a day Omega3 capsules. When am home I cover my hair with the silk cap. That’s how my hair is surviving the hard water.

    Am sorry the post turned out so long.
    LG an alle.

    PD: I love Blackgirllonghair. Keep on with the good work.

    I submitted a picture of me.

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  7. Baka Beautiful’s Natural-Laxer Hair Spa System IS THE ONLY REAL PENETRATING NATURAL HAIR SPA TREATMENT that responds
    to the hard water problem to manage the hair & stop breakage, because it is not a temporary surface styling aid or conditioner. It is a deep penetrating Natural
    hair spa system that effectively manages the hair stopping breakage immediately with lasting results. It is a holistic regimen.
    The pure Natural-Laxer Rose Water is one of the system components which keeps the Natural-Laxer Mix consistent, regardless of the water.

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  8. I live in an apartment where the manager never conduct pipe maintainence, therefore the water is extremely hard due to build-up. The water takes my hair out in huge amounts. Now, I just wash (or cowash) my hair using a solar shower bag that I fill with distilled water.

    I typically moisturize my hair twice a day (maybe every other day): once before styling in the morning and again before going to bed at night. My hair has been thriving and looking very healthy.

    I normally add moisture to my hair by using Shea Moisture’s yucca & aloe thickening growth milk and then I seal my ends with distilled water and Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. Actually, distilled water and any naturally oil like EVOO, coconut, etc will do a great job at adding moisture after I wash my hair.

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  9. If you live in a region where water is very contaminated, it would be wise to consider another solution such as differing
    filters that you can fit around your home (shower filter, faucet filter or even a whole house filtration system which would ensure all of your
    water is as a good as getting it direct from one of natures springs.
    Stay on top as regularly clean help to avoid repairs and more efficient use of filter.

    Especially when used in times of a disaster, such
    as the flooding going on currently in Pakistan, solar water distillation ought to be
    used to give people some access to clean water.

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  10. Im in spain and definetly have hard water here. It is absolutely horrible. I have lost about 6″ of length from breakage. I have very tight naturally curly hair and it has just become impossible. I have to much short little broken hairs. I have to get a water filter system

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  13. I live in Michigan and I have hard water with a water softener. I still have problems and cannot for the life of my fix it. I am dealing with breakage and I can’t keep my hair moisturized. I do not know what to do. I need help, any advice?

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