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  5. How To Prevent Hair Loss From Hard Water?

Does your hair feel dull and brittle all the time? Well, your shampoo might not be the real culprit behind this. Constantly exposing your hair to hard water can cause breakage and hair loss too.

Fortunately, the ancient science of Ayurveda has natural remedies that can reverse the damage caused by hard water on your hair. It can also help restore your hair’s volume and shine.

Scroll down to know what does hard water do to your hair and how you can prevent the damage caused to your hair early on.

What Is Hard Water?

Water that has a high mineral content is referred to as hard water. Excess amounts of calcium, magnesium bicarbonates [1] and carbonates, sulfates, iron, chloride, copper, zinc in groundwater cause water hardness. Hardness in water can be temporary or permanent. While temporary hardness can be easily removed by boiling, permanent hardness requires a set of procedures in order to be removed.

Though hard water that contains calcium and magnesium is not considered a potential health risk, it does affect the health of your hair. The presence of chloride, iron, copper, silica, lead, manganese, cadmium in water is usually observed in groundwater near industrial [2] or coastal areas. These minerals adversely affect your scalp and hair, gradually leading to hair loss over time.

What Does Hard Water Do To Your Hair?

woman holding messy hair in hand

Repeatedly washing your hair with hard water which contains harmful minerals, damages healthy hair, making it fragile. Now you must be thinking about the bottled water ads that promote the mixing of minerals in drinking water. Well, according to health experts, consuming water that contains certain minerals can benefit you, but high amounts of these can have adverse effects on your hair and skin. Let's consider a simple example: when you take a trip to the sea, the water that you use to wash your hair in your hotel often leaves your hair feeling dry. This is the result of chloride exposure in coastal areas.

Overexposure to hard water causes mineral build-up on your scalp that prevents nutrition and moisture to enter your hair follicles. This leaves your hair malnourished, giving it a dull appearance. Calcium deposition can dry out your hair and clog up your follicles.

A follicle block interferes with the natural hair growth process and may prevent the growth of healthy hair. Calcium and magnesium also bind with the hair shaft and weigh it down, making it difficult for you to style your hair. Salt or chloride exposure dries your hair shafts and makes your hair brittle and prone to breakage. If not prevented on time, this leads to frizz, split ends, discolouration, dandruff, and gradual hair thinning.

How Hard Water Affects Coloured Hair?

Hard water is also a potential nightmare to colour treated hair. Minerals such as copper react with the developer in your hair colour, giving you unwanted shades. Iron and copper in water can make light coloured hair develop red and green tints, respectively. Washing your hair in hard water quickly reduces the life of your hair colour, making it fade way before time.

What Are The Signs Of Hard Water Damage On Hair?

Washing your hair in hard water everyday can be harmful for both your hair and scalp. The common signs of hard water damage are listed below.

1. Dry, frizzy, dull hair with possible split ends

2. Dry, itchy scalp due to mineral build-up

3. Limp, weighed down hair that is difficult to style

4. Gradual hair thinning due to blockage of hair follicles

5. Frail, discoloured strands that are prone to tangles and breakage

How Different Harmful Minerals In Hard Water Affect Your Hair And Scalp?

Hard water leaves its mark on your skin and especially your hair. Different minerals dissolved in the water affect your hair differently. Below is a list of possible minerals that contaminates water and the damage they can wreak on your hair. Hence, if you notice any of the below hair conditions, it would be good to test your water’s hardness.

1. Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium Sulphate

These are the two common mineral salts found in hard water. Both these minerals gradually accumulate on your hair strands and scalp forming a layer that blocks the hair follicles. When the hair follicles are blocked nutrition cannot enter and nourish the hair roots. Very soon your hair begins to show signs of damage from malnourishment.

These minerals also make your shampoo ineffective and create a residue that stays backs on your scalp. This hampers the cleaning process making your hair susceptible to fungal infections on the scalp. Calcium bicarbonate and magnesium sulphate cling to your hair shafts and weigh your hair down, making it limp and heavy. This robs your hair of its natural bounce and also makes it difficult to style.

2. Chloride

Excess chloride in water is a typical coastal area woe. Chloride strips your hair of its natural oils making it dry and brittle. The moisture in your hair is what gives your hair its elasticity and shine. Devoid of that moisture hair becomes rough, increasing chances of damage to the hair cuticle. Chloride can irritate your scalp causing itchiness. Hair exposed to chloride becomes limp, dull and frizzy.

3. Aluminium

Aluminium easily penetrates the hair shaft, causing internal damage to your hair. Repeated exposure to high levels of aluminium may affect the hair follicle and slow down hair growth.

4. Copper

Copper can make your salon visits go waste. Water containing copper can accelerate a hair colouring process and give you a much darker shade than intend to have. It also causes discolouration of blonde hair giving it a greenish tint.

5. Lead

If your water is coming from old pipes, it may have dissolved lead in it. Lead causes hair loss by making hair lose its strength.

6. Iron

Too much iron in water can discolour your hair giving it an unwanted red tint. Iron exposure robs your hair’s natural shine making it dull and lifeless.

7. Sulfate

Sulfates dry out your hair and make it lose its elasticity. It is also known for drying your scalp and causing hair follicle damage. Hair dryness soon leads to other hair conditions such as split ends and dandruff.

8. Cadmium, Manganese And Silica

Presence of cadmium and silica in high levels can make your hair prone to breakage. It can cause a mineral build-up thus blocking your hair follicle’s route to nutrition. Hair thinning begins as your hair roots are deprived of the necessary nourishment.

Rainwater is naturally soft as it is purified by naturally occurring processes such as evaporation and condensation. So if your area has hard water and it is costing your hair its health, then go for rainwater harvesting and save some natural soft water for your needs.

Does Hard Water Cause Hair Loss?

If you've vacationed in the mountains you would have noticed the sudden silky, smooth texture your hair attains. That is the effect of soft water on your hair. Everyday exposure to hard water can result in various hair conditions leading up to hair loss. Day after day as minerals build up on your scalp they eventually clog up your hair follicles. This makes all your hair spa, conditioner, hair oil massages go in vain. When hair is dried out conditions like dandruff, frizz, split ends start cropping up. Soon the split ends travel up the hair shaft causing serious damage and hair thinning.

Is Hair Loss Due To Hard Water Reversible?

The quicker you take action the faster you'll be able to stop the damage inflicted on your hair by hard water. Converting the hard water to soft water is a good solution. But if that is not possible, a visit to your Ayurvedic doctor can help you reverse the hair damage.

According to Ayurvedic principles, every person has a unique 'Prakriti' or body constitution. This is determined by the level of the Tri Doshas or Life Energies in your body that regulate the body functions. When the Tri Doshas, Vata Pitta and Kapha are not in harmony the body falls into a diseased state which includes ‘Kesha Rogas’ or hair problems.

Constant exposure to hard water can elevate your Vata Dosha levels and cause various dryness related problems. A Vata Prakriti individual will easily get affected by hard water conditions. Your Ayurvedic doctor will guide you on the perfect hair care regime that will reverse the hair damage and bring back your hair's lost health and shine.

How Do You Prevent Hair Loss From Hard Water?

woman washing hair

1. Use A Water Softener/ RO

If your water tests to be hard, a Water Softener would be a good investment. Water softener for the home is a hard water filtration unit that changes hard water to soft water by a process called ion exchange [3]. The softener has a bed of resin beads through which the water passes. These beads are charged with negative sodium ions. When hard water passes through the resin beads, the positively charged magnesium and calcium ions are pulled up releasing the sodium ion into the water. This gives you softened water that is devoid of calcium and magnesium minerals and also some amounts of iron.

The biggest problem with water softeners is that it adds negatively charged sodium ions to the water. This can increase the salt in water. Also, the process can make the water too soft for cleansing purposes. Water that is too soft does not easily wash off soap and shampoo leaving you with a slippery feel every time you take a bath.

RO or devices that use Reverse Osmosis [4] are a better option when it comes to purifying hard water. Using RO water to wash your hair is a good option as it purifies water up to 98% leaving your hair feeling soft and shiny. However, these are usually quite expensive and require frequent maintenance.

2. Get A Shower Filter

Shower filters are comparatively less expensive than ROs or water softeners. The big advantage of a shower filter is that it does not soften the water too much like a water softener. This keeps the water suitable for cleaning. It works especially well if your water has high amounts of chlorine in it. Harmful chemicals are also purified by shower filters giving you cleaner water that does not damage your hair.

3. Use Purified Bottled Water

Cleansing your hair with bottled water is a safe and healthy habit. It does raise the expense but it is always a better option than dealing with hair loss due to hard water. Since bottled water is safe for drinking it is gentle on your hair and scalp as well.

4. Right Shampoo And Conditioner

If the above mentioned options don’t work for you and washing your hair in hard water is your only available option, go for a gentle shampoo. Shampoos that do not have sulfates, parabens, sodium chloride, harmful colours and fragrances are your best bet. Using a clarifying shampoo once in a while is good for removing mineral build-up on your scalp. Opt for an Ayurvedic shampoo to reverse the damage caused by hard water and also promote new hair growth.

Shampooing with Reetha and Shikakai is super healthy for hair that has to face hard water corrosion on a daily basis. Both Reetha and Shikakai contain saponins that are natural surfactants derived from plants. They gently clean your hair without stripping it of its natural oils. The antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties of Reetha keep scalp infections away. Shikakai being rich in Vitamin C promotes hair growth. A Reetha Shikakai wash keeps your hair soft and voluminous.

Since hard water is drying, use a conditioner that hydrates your hair. Conditioning your hair with hibiscus or aloe vera is a good way to keep dandruff and dryness away.

5. Use Moisturizing Masks

Moisturising masks are a great way to restore the lost moisture in your hair. A hydrating mask will revitalize your dull hair and smoothen your cuticle layer which gets most affected by hard water. Use natural hydrating agents such as honey, aloe vera, avocados that lock in moisture and prevent your hair from breaking due to dryness.

6. Natural Ayurvedic Remedies

herbs like shikakai, reetha, amla and lemon

When hair is exposed to hard water for longer periods, two main factors cause damage - mineral build-up and dryness. To reverse the effects of hard water on your hair, you need to focus on natural remedies that restore natural oils and remove the mineral build-up on your scalp and hair strands. The below mentioned herbal concoctions naturally moisturize your hair and protect the hair shaft from hard water damages.

A. Hibiscus, Methi and Neem Hair Mask

Hibiscus is a magical herb when it comes to treating hard water hair loss. Hibiscus is rich in amino acids that produce keratin which is the building block of your hair. Amino acids strengthen the hair shaft and prevent split ends and breakage. Hibiscus forms a protective layer on your hair strands and brings about a natural shine. The antioxidants in this herb along with essential vitamins regulate sebum production and keep your hair moisturized. Hibiscus is a potent herb that promotes hair growth and prevents discoloration of hair due to hard water.

Methi or fenugreek contains nicotinic acid that prevents dandruff and dryness related hair problems. The proteins in methi add strength to your hair strands and prevent them from drying and breaking.

Neem is a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal herb that is very effective in cleansing your scalp of the mineral build-up that occurs due to hard water exposure.

Take 10 to 12 hibiscus flowers and 5 leaves and grind with methi and neem leaves to make a paste. Apply and leave it on for 30 mins and wash off.

B. Lemon and Amla Rinse

The mineral build-up from hard water is best removed with a lemon and amla rinse. Both Lemon and Amla have clarifying properties that gently cleanses your scalp and removes mineral deposits that clog your hair follicles. Once the build-up is removed your hair roots will receive the essential nutrition it requires for new hair growth. Rich in Tannins and Vitamin C Amla moisturizes dull hair and also prevents discolouration of hair due to copper and iron exposure.

Mix Amla powder or grind fresh amla and add lemon juice to it. Apply this herbal mixture directly on to your scalp and leave it for 20 mins to half an hour and rinse off.

C. Bhringraj, Brahmi, Triphala Hair Mask

Bhringraj is used in various Ayurvedic hair treatments and is considered a wonder herb. Bhringraj effectively repairs damaged hair and cures hair conditions such as split ends, dandruff and breakage. An excellent promoter of hair growth, Bhringraj is often used to treat hair loss problems.

Brahmi contains alkaloids that stimulate hair growth and provide strength to locks that are suffering from breakage. Brahmi revives hair that has lost its shine and boots volume to limp tresses.

Triphala penetrates into the hair shaft and nourishes your hair from the inside. It also strengthens hair roots and prevents hair thinning due to hard water exposure. Triphala actively restores lost moisture and prevents your hair from losing its natural colours.

Bhringraj, Brahmi and Triphala are easily available in any Ayurvedic store. Mix the ingredients together with water to form a paste and apply on your scalp and through the length of your hair. Wash off after one hour.

D. Ashwagandha, Yashtimadhu, Amla, Guduchi Hair Mask

If hair discolouration is your problem, use Ashwagandha to reverse this damage caused by hard water on your hair. Ashwagandha is known for promoting melanin production and keeps hair from losing its natural colours. It is also effective against hair loss from hard water and fights dandruff and dryness.

The anti-inflammatory property of Yastimadhu keeps dandruff related problems away and is also effective against mineral build-up on your scalp.

Guduchi successfully restores shine and lustre to dry locks. While hard water robs your hair of its essential oils, Guduchi protects your tresses by regulating the oil balance and prevents your hair from breakage.

All the above ingredients are available in Ayurvedic stores. Adding Amla to this mixture cleanses your scalp and promotes health to your hair. Apply this mask for an hour before rinsing off.

Vedix Tip: If you are facing hair damage due to hard water, visit your Ayurvedic doctor for a Shirolepa or Shiro Abhyanga session. Both Shirolepa (the process of applying Ayurvedic herbal paste on scalp and hair) [5] and Shiro Abhyanga (hair massage with herbal oils) are excellent ways to curb hair loss and dryness caused by hard water.

Tips For Washing Hair In Hard Water

Hard water washes are damaging for your tresses. So if this is your only option it is better to give your hair some extra care. Follow the below tips to prevent hair loss for hard water.

1. Use a shower filter to reduce hair damage. A water softener or RO installation is also a good option to change your hard water to soft water.

2. Use a clarifying shampoo or a lemon, amla/ vinegar rinse to prevent minerals from building up on your scalp and clogging your hair follicles.

3. Give your hair extra hydration. Hard water tends to dry up and roughen the cuticle layer of your hair. Moisturize or deep condition your hair after a shower.

4. Oil massages are an excellent way to revive hair that has lost its shine and strength.

5. Keep the water temperature to a minimum. High temperatures make your hair lose its moisture easily. Moreover, it opens up the cuticle layer and allows further mineral deposition on your hair strands.

“Water, from various sources, like well, pond, river and their properties are described in length in ayurvedic texts. Broadly, they are classified as Shuddha jala, and Dushta jala. The modern day pollution in water is appalling. Our efforts should also be directed towards minimizing our own individual contribution to this pollution,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

The Last Word

Washing your hair is a daily requirement. But if the water you are using becomes the main damage-causing agent, it is time to take action. Hard water is frequently faced problem especially in areas when the groundwater is exposed to harmful minerals. The harsh minerals dissolved in hard water strip your hair of its natural oils and clog up your hair follicles. Gradually, with lack of nutrition entering the follicles and essential moisture, your hair loses its shine and strength. If installing a water softener is not an available option, change your hair care routine to give your hair extra nourishment to battle hair damage from hard water. At Vedix, we evaluate your Doshas and suggest suitable hair care regimen to address your hair needs.

Know Your Dosha Now

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