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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Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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63 Comments on "Hard Water and Hair Breakage"

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I don’t like when arti­cles call it black hair. As if no one ful­ly or even par­tial­ly black could pos­si­bly have kinky/curly hair. Also, hard water is a prob­lem for hair in gen­er­al not just kinky/curly hair.

amina 6591

In the USA par­tial­ly Black IS Black. That is part of our his­to­ry. We (% of Blacks) are all mixed with a lit­tle some­thing.


The name of the site is Black Girl with Long Hair. The use of the term black hair is prob­a­bly gonna come up. Yes there are many peo­ple of oth­er races who have kinky/curly hair, but this par­tic­u­lar page seems to be direct­ed to a speci­fic group. What I found help­ful was the infor­ma­tion. I live in a hard water area and that was more impor­tant info than the terms used to describe hair.


No offense but the site is called “Black Girl With Long Hair” So, it’s tar­get­ed to a speci­fic com­mu­ni­ty. Though, sure, that’s not stop­ping oth­er peo­ple from tak­ing the advice and hell, it’s encour­aged but no one is say­ing any­thing about oth­er eth­nic make­ups can’t have kinky-curly hair. It’s just a gen­er­al state­ment for what the site is called.


Well, the book IS called the sci­ence of black hair, so.….….


i prefer afro-tex­tured or high­ly tex­tured hair, kinky/curly as well. but i have come to realise that although i do not cat­e­go­rize my hair or myself as black or African Amer­i­can per­haps some authors/vloggers/bloggers etc lim­it their readership/audience to a speci­fic group of peo­ple unknow­ing­ly. its unfor­tu­nate.


I buy 2 to 3 gal­lons of dis­tilled water from the store. I usu­al­ly use one gal­lon to sham­poo and then the oth­er to rin­se out con­di­tion­er. I use the left­over water for my spray bot­tle.

This helped my hair so much and its the cheap­i­est way for me.






Yep, we have hard water in Lon­don.
And yeah, it’s hor­ri­ble on my hair.
I use a cider vine­gar rin­se to try to com­bat the cal­ci­um deposits and acid­i­fy myself. I also go to the petrol sta­tion and buy a big bot­tle of de-ionised water to put in my spray bot­tle instead of tap water.


Yep I agree, the hard water in Lon­don is ter­ri­ble on the strands. I deal with hard water by using ORS aloe sham­poo reg­u­lar­ly, the ACV rin­se I can’t stand seems to make the tan­gling that is asso­ci­at­ed with the hard water worse.


I have been deal­ing with this prob­lem for years now. I find that add more mois­ture to my hair and scalp makes a major dif­fer­ence. Instead of using the basic spray mois­tur­iz­ers. I use all nat­u­ral oils such as olive, jojoba, coconut, apri­cot, etc. In their oil forms or medi­um to thick creams and pro­tec­tive styles. Depends on the sea­son.