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4 Tips for Washing Hair in Hard Water (And Treatment)

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

People living in hard water areas may experience dulled or weakened hair as one of the side effects of hard water.

In this article, we’ll share the best tips for washing human hair in hard water, as well as possible ways to reverse the negative effects of hard water on hair.

1. Remove Hard Water by Using a Water Softener

The most efficacious solution for hard water is a whole-house water softener. Water softeners are designed to remove hard water minerals such as Magnesium and Calcium.

Install a Home Water Softener

Water softeners adjusts pH levels, which in turn help balance the pH in hair. A level pH will relieve a dry and itchy scalp and fortify hair at the follicle, so it grows strong.

2. Use Filtered, Distilled, or Bottled Water To Rinse Hair

Use Filtered, Distilled, or Bottled Water for Your Final Rinse

This technique can be inconvenient because there needs to be purified water on hand in the bathroom. However, it’s an effective way to wash out the mineral deposits to keep hair healthy and beautiful.

3. Wash Hair With a New Shower Head or Filter

A new showerhead or filter system can remove minerals from water in the shower. Showerheads and shower filters are affordable, simple to install, and readily available at most hardware stores or on Amazon.

New Shower Head can help wash hair in hard water

There are different types of shower filter to choose from, but all will reduce mineral deposits to improve hair quality.

4. Use a Leave-In Conditioner or Hair Mask

Using a leave-in or deep moisturizing conditioner on a weekly or semi-weekly basis, can help strengthen hair. The leave-in treatments can reverse the brittle, straw-like texture of hair and combat hair loss and breakage.

Use a Leave-In Conditioner or Hair Mask to wash hair in hard water

However, these products are not preventative, like shower filters, and minerals may still build up in the hair. The best leave-in conditioners include natural oils like coconut and argan oil, which help lock in moisture for a smooth and glossy look.

See Also: How to protect skin from hard water

The Effects of Hard Water on Hair

Hard water consists of minerals and dissolved elements, like calcium and magnesium.

When these minerals are present in water, soaps can be ineffective, skin can develop irritation and hair can become dry and brittle. Soap won’t lather properly, and shampoo can have a weak effect on hair.

So, what does hard water do to hair in the shower? It depends on the hair texture and hardness of the water.

Below are the most common side effects of washing hair in hard water:

1. Dry Scalp

The magnesium and calcium levels present in hard water may dry out the scalp. When this happens, it can lead to itchiness, dandruff, and general discomfort. A dry scalp can also contribute to hair loss in some people, where more strands come loose due to unhealthy skin.

The Effects of Hard Water on Hair

2. Hair Loss

Even if the minerals don’t dry out the scalp, hair loss can still occur. The minerals weaken the hair follicle, causing it to detach.

People that tend to shed hair strands frequently will likely notice an increase in hair loss when using hard water. For those that already have thin hair, this can be an irreversible side effect.

3. Dulled Color

No one wants dull, mousey hair. But hard water can strip hair of its vibrant hue and dull the shine. Hair that has been recently dyed is especially sensitive to hard minerals, and the color can fade rapidly.

People may spend hundreds on a beautiful dye job that can be ruined in just a handful of hard water showers.

4. Rough Texture

Everyone prefers hair to be soft and silky. However, hard water can make hair frizzy, dry, and brittle.

Hair will lose its shine and take on a straw-like texture. People with shorter hair may not feel a stark difference, but those with long hair will notice the drastic change in sheen and feel.

5. Breakage

Many people experience dead ends and hair breakage, but this worsens when showering in hard water. As the texture of the hair becomes frailer, strands snap easily, causing rough ends and thinning toward the tips.

Hard Water Hair Treatment: How to Reverse the Effects

If the damage has already been done, there are ways to reverse the side effects of hard water on hair.

The best way to do this is to use conditioning products and treatments that can return hair to its original condition. Rinsing hair with restorative ingredients, like citrus, vinegar, or soft water, can repair the hard water damage.

1. Give Your Hair a Vinegar Rinse

A weekly vinegar rinse may restore the pH levels in hair and leave it feeling soft. Vinegar is high in acidity, which helps to remove mineral and calcium build-up that makes hair weak and rough.


To perform a vinegar rinse, combine one part of vinegar with an equal two parts of water, preferably distilled, filtered, or bottled.

Apply the vinegar rinse to the scalp after shampooing. Work the mixture through the hair and leave it on for at least five minutes. Rinse and condition as usual.

It’s best to employ distilled white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar can also work. Just stay away from red wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar, as these may leave an unpleasant smell.

2. Use Clarifying Shampoo

A clarifying shampoo works similarly to a vinegar rinse in that it removes the mineral build-up caused by hard water deposits. Also called chelating shampoos, they eliminate dirt, residue from grooming products, and mineral build-up for a clean, fresh, and polished appearance.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

Limit the use of clarifying shampoos to a weekly or monthly basis. Using chelating shampoos daily or even semi-weekly can be excessive and dry hair out.

3. Give Your Hair a Citrus Rinse

Give Your Hair a Citrus Rinse

A citrus rinse, such as the juice from a lemon, lime, or orange, works as a natural purifier, removing mineral deposits and leftover residue.

To perform a citrus rinse, juice a whole fresh lemon, lime, or orange, and dilute the fruit juice with three parts of water. After shampooing, spread the citrus mixture throughout the hair, focusing on the scalp.

The natural antiseptic properties of citrus will improve skin texture, fight dandruff, and create an all-around healthier head of hair.

What Is the Best Water to Wash Hair?

Distilled water is the best water for washing hair. It does not include hair-harming impurities or minerals, like magnesium or calcium.

Distilled, filtered, or bottled water removes existing minerals deposited on hair from the hard water in showers. Washing hair in distilled water will improve overall health and shine, although keeping these items by the shower can be a hassle.

In addition to eliminating or reducing minerals deposited on hair, distilled water can also help condition and hydrate hair, preventing further split ends and breakage.

Purified water won’t strip hair of its natural oils or dye, enhancing its texture and appearance for luscious locks that are soft, smooth, and glossy.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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