If you've ever washed a dish and later noticed a white residue on your glass, chances are you live in an area with hard water.
While many of us may not think twice about the type of water we use on wash day, quality matters when you want to maintain healthy curls.
If you think of your hair as the once sparkling glass, picture the unseen film resting on your strands. It's not a pretty sight once frizz is introduced and can cause you more difficulty in the long run.
Hard water is the high concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. While the presence of minerals in the water is beneficial to health, depending on the hardness of your water, your hair can experience harsh effects.
You may have noticed an abrupt change in how your curls behave if you moved to a new area.
In hard water conditions, your shampoo and other hair products react with the calcium in the water, leaving behind a film and mineral buildup.
Ultimately, hard water can cause frizz, detangling issues, dry hair and scalp and change the overall appearance of your curls -- and we don't want that. If you find yourself in an area with hard water, here are some steps to take to increase the quality of your water.
1. Test the quality of your water
Several companies offer water tests to find out if your home faucets distributes hard water. A clear sign is to take a look at your shower heads, faucets and toilet bowls. If they have residue stains, you most likely live with hard water. If you're more of the DIYer, add 10 drops of dish soap to a cup of water. If it turns milky white, you have hard water.
2. Ditch hard water for good
Companies that offer water tests can also install water softeners, which changes the amount of minerals in the water using beads and salts to act as filters. You can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000 for a home system. A water filtering shower head can also be installed for much less. If you're strapped for cash, or don't believe a softener is needed, there are other less expensive options available.
In my time as a curly girl, I've heard about people using distilled water during the washing process. While that is an option, you have to admit, that's a lot of gallons of water.
One of the easiest and quickest alternative involves experimenting with different hair products. Just as all water is not equal, we curly girls know products aren't, either.
Those with hard water should try clarifying and pH balanced shampoos made for hard water environments. Look for products with the main ingredient Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic Acid, or EDTA - which helps break down minerals causing hard water.
Although these types of cleansers are great at stripping your curls of buildup, they can also have a drying effect. Try incorporating them into your hair regimen at least once a month.
Here are a few shampoos to check out:
- Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo, $18, uses a blend of lemon, grapefruit, and orange flower extracts to breakdown buildup without stripping the hair of natural oils.
- DevaCurl Buildup Buster Micellar Water Cleansing Serum, $28, attracts dirt and buildup like a magnet and uses Abyssinica seed oil and jojoba to deliver moisture.
- Jane Carter Solution Healthy Hair Renewable Difference Detox Shampoo, $11, is a color-safe shampoo that helps hair thrive in hard water environments by using glycolic fruit extracts of sugar maple, orange and lemon.
What's the water like in your city?
Help a fellow curly girl out. Let us know in the comments below!