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How to Protect Your Hair From the Damage Caused By Hard Water

Too many #BadHairDays lately? Maybe your shower is the culprit.

If you've been walking around looking like Monica Geller in Barbados, there's trouble. An array of reasons could be responsible for the nest on your head. Heat styling? Sure. Furiously dragging a comb through knots instead of gently detangling? Certainly. But, what if we told you that your shower is the enemy? Uh-huh. The heightened presence of dissolved salts of calcium and magnesium are making your water *hard*.

Water containing about 75 mg/L (milligrams/litre) or less of calcium carbonate equivalent—the most common unit of measurement of hardness in India—is considered soft water. 250 mg/L or above is hard water, and 350mg/L is considered very hard water. Unfortunately, in the country, water hardness is a problem most of us are having to deal with day-in-day-out.

"Infused with a mix of compounds including calcium, chlorine, magnesium, bicarbonates, and other metallic elements, hard water leaves behind a trail of mineral deposits in your faucet, bathtub, and sink. It also makes your clothes stiff and dull. So, you can only imagine the adverse effects it has on your tresses! Conversely, soft water comes from filtered rainwater, and fresher sources, minus the high mineral content," explain experts from GKHair. 

The expert adds, "Hard water often leaves behind mineral residue on your scalp and ends, resulting in flat hair that’s completely devoid of life. Plus, if you're experiencing excessive hair fall, dryness, and brittleness, you know what to blame. For those of you with coloured hair, hard water may cause colour bleeding and untameable frizz."

Since changing your water source would be a challenge not worth partaking in, profesh hair experts recommend alternate ways to combat hair damage due to hardness.


Strengthen Your Scalp


According to Manish Chowdhary, Co-CEO, WOW Skin Science, to prevent hair breakage and an itchy scalp caused due to hard water, you must begin by protecting the top mantle of your scalp and strands. "Massage your scalp and hair with oil blends offering the goodness of argan, coconut, olive, onion seed, or amla. These components are rich in fatty acids and form a protective barrier over the strands, thus preventing moisture loss. In addition, they improve blood circulation to the roots, making the follicles stronger. The best time to massage your hair and scalp is half an hour before you shampoo."


Use a Chelating Shampoo to Prevent Build-up


By definition, chelating shampoos are clarifying shampoos that are formulated to dissolve and remove the mineral build-up in your hair. The shampoo possesses a chelating agent that binds to the minerals in hard water and gets rid of them as you rinse your strands. Make sure to rinse your hair thoroughly. Since chelating shampoo can be overly drying on the scalp, consider using a hydrating conditioner post shampoo.


Try an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse


Mr Manish suggests that you give an apple cider vinegar rinse a go, post your shampoo to minimise build-up and add a bounce and sheen to the hair. "Mix 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water. Post application of shampoo and rinse, apply the mixture to the scalp and the lengths of your hair. Leave the concoction on for a few seconds before rinsing it off with lukewarm water," he says. 


Convert Hard Water to Soft(er) Water


According to experts at GKHair, you could attempt converting hard water to a softer variety by installing a filtered showerhead that is meant to filter out any harmful minerals. And, in case you don't wish to splurge on such a resource, you could opt for hair care products that lend similar mineral-cancelling effects. Alternatively, use a bottle or two of filtered water—depending on your hair length—to rinse your hair every time you shampoo. Filtered, bottled water is soft and free of minerals and helps make hair more manageable.


Image: Courtesy Cosmopolitan US