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Does water dry out your hair?

Does water dry out your hair?

No, this isn’t a trick question—and yes, your water can potentially leave your hair feeling dry and looking frazzled. If you switch up your haircare products and don’t see improvement, the water you use to wash your hair may be to blame. It doesn’t matter if you have well water or public water. What matters is the mineral content of the water coming out of your showerhead. 

Is your water hard or soft?

The main difference between hard and soft water is the level of minerals they contain. 

Hard water contains high levels of dissolved minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. These minerals are typically infused into water as it passes through rocks, soils, and underground aquifers. Soft water has a low concentration of these dissolved minerals. Although soft water may still contain some minerals, it has significantly lower concentrations as compared to hard water.

Not sure if your water is hard or soft? There are a few tell-tale signs of hard water, such as spots on your dishes, flatware, and glasses after washing them; a build-up of “soap scum” in your shower, or a white film on your faucets. You can also do a DIY test by adding a few drops of pure liquid soap to a water bottle that’s one-third full and shaking it vigorously for a few seconds. If there is a distinct lack of sudsy bubbles and the water appears cloudy and/or milky, your water is likely hard. If you’re still unsure, other signs of hard water include For a more accurate assessment, you can also get a water testing kit from a home improvement store or Amazon for less than $10.

The effects of soft water on the hair

Soft water enhances the effectiveness of detergents found in shampoo, which results in better lathering and easier rinsing. Because it doesn’t leave any mineral residue behind, soft water can leave the hair feeling softer and more manageable, and looking smoother and shinier. Water with a low mineral content is associated with reduced frizz, less dryness and longer-lasting color as well. 

The effects of hard water on the hair

Hard water can affect detergent performance, leading to reduced lather and making complete rinsing more difficult. With hard water, it can be more challenging to get the hair truly clean. Hard water can leave a residue that makes the hair appear dull or feel weighed down, and water with a high mineral content can also strip the natural oils from the hair, leaving it dry and prone to frizz. The minerals in hard water can disrupt the hair's natural moisture balance, leading to increased dryness, roughness, and brittleness. Hard water can also accelerate color fading.

What you can do if you have hard water

If you know you have hard water, it’s important to look for hydrating ingredients that provide extra moisture and help lock it in without weighing the hair down. It’s also best to avoid harsh shampoo surfactants such as sulfates. These ingredients can strip the hair, scalp and skin of essential moisture with any type of water and don’t perform as well with hard water, so they should be the first ingredient to go.

You can also consider adding a water filter to your showerhead. This can help reduce the mineral content and increase the quality of the water you use to wash your hair and skin. If hard water is having an effect on your hair that haven’t been improved by switching to gentle, non-irritating hair and skincare products—you can add a water softener to your home plumbing system to reduce the mineral content in the water that comes out of your sinks and showers. 

How SEEN can help

Our Shampoo features naturally-derived surfactants that lather and rinse clean regardless of your water’s mineral content, while SEEN Conditioner works to infuse the hair with moisture without weighing the hair down. Hard water may require a more hydrating conditioner in order to counteract its effects on the hair. SEEN Deeper Conditioner is a great option for extra hair hydration without having to worry about clogged pores or skin irritation. 

SEEN is also great for those with hard water because these products are formulated with a naturally-derived alternative to silicone called hemisqualane (C13-15 Alkane) that reduces frizz and enhances hair smoothness while providing color and heat protection—and ALL SEEN products are safe for sensitive skin and non-comedogenic, which can help keep your skin in the clear when you have hard water.