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Hard Water Skin and Hair Effects: Is Your Tap Water Bad for Hair and Skin Care?

by Beverly Hills MD

September 19 2019

If you have issues with an itchy scalp or dry skin, or you’re having other hair issues, your tap water might be to blame. Hard water skin effects are more numerous than you might think. The minerals in hard water coming out of your showerhead and drinking water could actually be the culprit.

Here’s some information on what hard water is, and some of the hard water problems many people experience.

What Is Hard Water?

The hardness level of water typically refers to the amount of minerals it contains – specifically, calcium and magnesium. Both calcium and magnesium are important to your body, but these hard water minerals can sometimes cause issues.

hard water skin | Beverly Hills MDFor example, you might notice that after using soap, your hands still seem oily even after you rinse. The same feeling may occur after washing your face with soap.

You might find it difficult to get a good lather when you use shampoo.

Hard water can also clog pipes and lead to a reduction in water pressure.

In addition, your glassware and dishes might have cloudy-looking hard water stains even after you wash them thoroughly with soaps and detergents. This is because of residue from the mineral deposits in the water. Water hardness won’t make you sick, but residue from the high mineral content of hard water may make your dishes look like you never washed them in the first place.1

What Is Soft Water?

When rain falls from the sky, it’s considered “soft.” It becomes hard when it accumulates minerals as it flows through rocks and other materials. Soft water, on the other hand, only has a fraction of the calcium and magnesium of hard water. It tastes different than hard water, and it doesn’t leave any sort of residue on your dishes or glasses.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest or East Coast areas of the U.S., you probably have soft water coming from your tap.2

How Hard Water Affects Skin

Evidence suggests that hard water may do more than just make your dishes and glasses look unattractive. It could actually contribute to the development of clogged pores and other troublesome skin conditions.3

According to one study, the effects of hard water include damage to the protective barrier of your skin. This makes your skin more susceptible to bacteria. It may also lead to sensitive skin. Washing with hard water can lead to irritation, itching, and rashes.4

How Hard Water Affects Hair

hard water skin | Beverly Hills MDWhen you shampoo your hair in the shower, hard water can make it tough to rinse the shampoo out completely. As a result, you might have shampoo residue in your hair and not even know it. The more you wash, the more that residue gets left behind.

This buildup could lead to several issues. For example, your hair might seem to be more brittle and break easily. It might also be limp and dull, or you might notice an abnormal amount of dryness.

If your hair has been colored, that color made fade faster than normal. There is even a chance you might be losing hair.5

Hard Water vs. Soft Water: Can A Water Softener Help?

If you have dry skin, soft water might help with your skin care routine. A water softener can remove calcium, magnesium, and other hard water minerals. There’s a significant difference between hard and soft water.

That could mean the difference between dry skin and hydrated skin.

hard water skin | Beverly Hills MDResearchers looked at how an ion exchange water softener may affect skin care. While it doesn’t remove all the calcium and magnesium from hard water, the amounts that are left have little effect on the skin during washing.

A water softener, according to the researchers, may have a significant effect on the pH of skin.

This might help reduce the chances of developing skin conditions associated with hard water.6

If you’re not sure whether you have hard or soft water, have a professional perform a water test. Also, never try to install a water softener by yourself, whether it’s an ion exchange or reverse osmosis system. Installing a water softener or a water filtration system is a job that should only be performed by a pro.

Skin Irritation: Know When To See A Doctor

Skin problems are annoying. Itching and dry skin can leave you uncomfortable and frustrated. If you’re struggling, it might be time to see a dermatologist, especially if you have a rash or other skin problem that lasts for several days.7

Could hard water be the cause of your skin or hair woes? Possibly. It’s worth investigating.

Learn More:
Fall Skin Care: How To Maintain Moisture With The Weather Change
Are Vitamins Good For Skin Care? Do They Really Work?
What is Skin Purging and is it Real?


Beverly Hills MD Dermal Repair Complex