Hard water affects your skin and hair. Have you ever walked out of the shower feeling strangely dry and tight? It’s definitely the fault of the calcium- and magnesium-rich water. In France, for example, the waters are said to be the hardest in Ile-de-France, Jura and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. I’ve already noticed lime deposits in the coffee machine, the bathroom sink, the shower curtain… and if you don’t use fabric softener, your clothes tend to be stiffer after every wash. So imagine what your hair and skin go through after you shower.
To find out more, we spoke with Dr. Susan Macick, MD, a dermatologist at Ohio University Wexner Medical Center. This is what you can tell us about the consequences of hard water on hair and skin.
Effects of hard water on your skin
“Repeated use of hard water while showering can dry out the skin and disrupt the skin’s natural barrier functions,” says Dr. Masek. “It dries up the skin and scalp, which can lead to irritation and itching.” In addition to regulating the water temperature and limiting the duration of showers (some good habits to follow anyway), investing in an anti-limestone filter can also prevent post-shower feeling of dryness.
According to Dr. Masek, while drinking mineral-rich water has health benefits for the skin and scalp, this is not the case with external use. Accumulation on the skin and hair can exacerbate chronic conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
In some cases, it can even prevent our products like soap or shampoo from lathering properly in the shower. And speaking of shampoo…
Effects of hard water on your hair
While skin cells regenerate each month, your hair is here to stay. Unless you choose a shaved head or a very short cut, showering will affect the quality of your hair in the long run.
“The minerals in hard water can leave a residue on your hair, preventing thorough cleaning,” warns Dr. Masek. It also affects the feel, health and appearance of your hair.
Even if nothing can resist a clarifying shampoo, we’re not all the type to wash our hair daily (or even every other day, for the majority of us). If you want to let your hair dry without risking mineral buildup, and to preserve your scalp, you can take action. We explain how right after.
How do you know if your water is hard or soft?
There is no standard way to tell if water is hard or soft. Many modern buildings have natural filtration systems. A map of France indicating water hardness may also be helpful. For more accuracy, you can purchase water hardness test strips for the specific needs of your home. But if you notice particles visible to the naked eye in tap water or sediment in your bathtub, bathtub, or kitchen, you likely live in an area with particularly hard water.
How to deal with hard water
Dr. Masek advises choosing a filtration system that extends to the entire home. “This way, all the water goes through the shower softener, taps, and toilets,” she explains. These fairly expensive fixtures are a long-term investment.
Not everyone can afford these stations and many of us live in apartments. In this case, you can install a limescale filter for the shower head. “They filter out the excess minerals and will be effective as long as you replace them after a period of use,” Dr. Masek continues.
Many filters are available in the market, you just need to find the right model for your shower. The filter should be replaced every six months, making sure to always have a few filters in place as well as a sealing tape to prevent drip.
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