Before we proceed to the adverse effects of hard water let’s find out what hard water is. Hard water is water that looks like regular water we use in our daily lives but is rich in mineral compounds like bicarbonates, sulphates and chlorides of calcium and magnesium which are harmful.
Now there exist two types of hard water, temporary and permanent. Temporary hardness can be removed by simply boiling the water, whereas permanent hardness needs chemical treatment. An easy way to identify hard water is to notice if you are having a tough time making lather with some soap and water.
Let us now see the harmful effects of hard water on our skin and hair:
Effects on skin:
- Dry Skin: We, often wonder why our skin is becoming itchy, dry and scaly in spite of the repeated application of moisturizer. Well, this could be due to hard water since it is alkaline in nature and our skin is acidic. So, when hard water comes in contact with our skin an immediate reaction takes place between acid and alkali and the residue is salt. Hard water contains sodium and the extra salt production is harmful to our skin. Salt rips off the moisture from our skin resulting in dryness and dehydration. And, that’s why we often find our skin very dry just after bathing.
- Itchy Skin: Hard water contains chlorides which is a compound of chlorine. Chlorine, not only acts as an irritant to our skin but also gives rise to allergic reactions resulting in redness and itching. Dryness, on the other hand, triggers itching and itchy skin leads to flaky skin resulting in cracks.
- Acne and breakouts: Hard water does not make lather with soap due to the presence of calcium and magnesium in it. Instead, it forms a scummy residue which is kind of a thick froth. When we wash our face with soap and water this scummy residue of soap is left behind on our skin blocking the skin pores. Clogged pores may trap dirt and grime from the environment resulting in breakouts and acne. Also, the natural oil and sebaceous secretion are disrupted due to your blocked pores which lead to excess oil deposition underneath our skin. This trapped excess oil and sebum clog skin pores resulting in pimples.
- Eczema: The minerals in hard water rip off the protective layer of our skin exposing it to the environment. This not only causes dryness but also enhances other skin irritation processes. Though not a sole cause for eczema it causes an aggravation of the issue.
- Skin ageing: It is true that hard water leaves scummy residue on our skin clogging our pores but also the harsh chemicals rips off the moisture and the protective layer of the skin exposing it to the forces of nature. It depletes the natural oil resulting in acute dry, itchy and flaky skin which causes fine lines and wrinkles aggravating the skin ageing process.
So, these are the few direct and indirect major harmful effects of hard water on our skin. We can certainly treat the above-stated problems with a number of remedies but the best way to fight this problem is to avoid hard water as much as possible. Now let’s see the effects of hard water on our hair:
Effects on hair:
- Hair fall: Hard water contains a lot of minerals which can act as oxidizers which create a scaly surface all over the scalp making it rough and itchy resulting in an oily and sticky surface. Dirt and Grime and even ingredients from your shampoo stick to it making it brittle and ultimately resulting in hair fall.
- Dandruff: Hard water does not form lather when treated with a shampoo rather it leaves a scum like residue which actually clogs the pores of the scalp making it difficult for the essential oils to secrete. The result is dry itchy scalp which results in white flakes creating dandruff like situation. Dandruff triggers hair fall and this loop continue unless otherwise the water is changed.
- Thinning of hair: Hard water does not directly affect thinning of hair but hair fall combined with dandruff and slow hair growth result in thinning of hair. Some dermatologists have hypothesized that when negatively charged hard water reacts with positively charged hair it results is breakage of your hair. Though not proven, this theory puts forward enough reason to avoid hard water.
- Discolouration of hair: Hard water contains Chlorine which is an active bleaching agent used as a disinfectant to remove insects from the water. But as a bleaching agent Chlorine can cause discolouration of hair. It lighten’s your hair by the process of oxidization ripping off the natural hair pigment causing greying of hair. Also, Chlorides and other sulphates of calcium, sodium and magnesium suck up the protective keratin layer present in the hair cuticle. The result is dull, damp, straw-like hair. Regular dyeing may help but the best way is to get rid of the ultimate cause.
So, these are the harmful effects of hard water on our skin and hair.If treated properly these effects can be minimised but cannot be brushed off completely as the primary issue persists. It can be softened by boiling the water twice or thrice and filtering it before applying it to skin and hair but this is applicable for temporary hard water only. Permanent hard water can only be treated by using a water softening machine or by chemical treatment.
If you already use hard water and are having some of the issues mentioned above, firstly, stop using it! Second, consult our dermatologists from the comfort of your home and get a custom solution for all your issues: