Hard Water Vs Soft Water on Hair: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Your hair can be kept healthy in several ways. One lesser known variable is the water that you use to wash your hair. The water that you use may be having a devastating effect on the health of your hair. If you have hard water in your home, then your hair is losing out on the benefits of soft water.

Most people don’t know the differences between hard water and soft water, and this could be taking essential nutrients out of your hair, leaving it dry and brittle.

We will go over what hard and soft water are as well as five facts that you need to know about the effects of hard water on hair. We will also give you a few tips to help determine whether you have hard water or soft water.

Hard Water Vs Soft Water on Hair

Hard water is a type of water that is rich in calcium and magnesium and is considered hard because of the high concentration of minerals

The minerals that come in high levels in hard water can cause many different issues with your hair, from dryness to flakiness in the scalp. Soft water, however, can actually help keep your hair smooth and silky and balance your hair’s PH levels to prevent breakage. Soft water hair is shiny and smooth because it takes in more moisture and stays healthy longer in dry weather.

If you have hard water, you can use a water softener after reviewing water descalers to soften it. It works by removing the high concentration of calcium and magnesium in the water. Soft water is also known to have higher levels of sodium in it, so water softeners often add sodium to the water although some people use potassium.

How To Tell If You Have Hard Water

If you are wondering if you have hard or soft water in your home, there are a few different signs to look for. If any of these signs are seen in your home, then you likely have hard water.

  • spots or deposits are seen on your dishes and glasses after being washed
  • you feel a thin film after you wash your hands or need to run them under water longer to get clean
  • mineral stains that show on clothing after being washed in the washer
  • lowered water pressure over time

If you have soft water, you will not likely experience any of these issues and will instead see that your clothes are cleaner and your glassware is spotless after being washed.

The only way to know for sure is to test your water. If you want to test the hardness of your water, read more here.

Five Things You Need To Know About Hard Water Effects on Your Hair

So, now that you know what hard and soft water is and how to tell which one you have, let’s get to the things you should know about how it affects your hair.

1. Oily Scalps Will Suffer

Hard water and hair don’t go together, and even if you have an oily scalp, you can experience dryness when washing your hair with hard water. The minerals that are abundant in hard water can strip your hair of its nutrients, which can cause your scalp to become dry. If you already have a dry scalp, then you’re likely to experience some flakiness.

2. It Flattens Your Hair

Even if you happen to be blessed with tons of volume, hard water can start to affect your hair and flatten it dramatically. The minerals in hard water can erode the elasticity of the hair and make it look lifeless and flat. No matter how voluminous and thick your hair is, the look of it will likely suffer after washing with hard water regularly.

3. Hard Water Causes Breakage

Many people might be wondering that if all these issues are caused by this type of water, then does hard water damage hair? Well, this is an overwhelming, yes! Hard water washing on your hair can actually cause your hair strands to break. This is because the minerals in hard water can cause the hair to become porous, which weakens the hair. This will allow breakage to happen much easier.

4. It Makes Your Hair Feel Rough

Hard water hair damage happens from the scalp to the end of the hair follicle. With the dryness of the scalp causing your hair to get less moisture and the minerals making the follicles more porous, you will end up with rough-to-the-touch hair. The porousness of the hair can make your hair break off, but it also makes the hair feel brittle and rough.

5. It Causes Hair Loss

Not only can hard water make your scalp and hair look and feel unhealthy, but it can also lead to hair loss. It is no surprise that hair that’s not healthy will not grow as well, so hair that is consistently washed with hard water and strips the hair of nutrients will not continue to grow as well as before. This can cause your hair to look less full and even cause some sections to stop growing back as it used to. You may see patches of hair with little growth, or see thinning in the entire crown of your hair.

Hard water use is higher in certain areas of the US, and you can check this map to see how much hard water is used in your area to help prevent hard water hair loss as much as possible.

How to soften water for washing hair?

Are there any other ways to get softened water to protect your hair from hard water’s effects? Here are a couple of tricks people have tried:

1. Do a Vinegar Rinse

By balancing the pH of your hair to leave it feeling smooth and silky, the acidity of vinegar works to eliminate calcium buildup from your hair. The calcium that accumulates on your hair follicles after washing it in harsh water is neutralized by vinegar’s acidity.

Although any vinegar can work, apple cider vinegar has the most acidity. One part vinegar and two parts water should be combined. After shampooing, apply the vinegar mixture to your hair and massage your scalp while running your fingers through it. After five minutes, remove it and rinse it.

Use it only once a week because using it every day can dry out your hair.

For a more opulent treatment, you could also put your mixture in a spray bottle and add coconut oil and lavender oil. Spray it on, give it a little massage, then wait 15 minutes before rinsing it out. If you don’t use pure water for your last rinse, the vinegar’s properties will be negated.

2. Use Bottled or Filtered Water for Your Final Rinse

Although we do not advocate the use of plastic water bottles due to their negative environmental effects, many people have chosen to use filtered water as the last rinse in an effort to lessen the damage caused by hard water. If you decide to go with this alternative, be sure to just use a bigger bottle for your last rinse before exiting the showers so you aren’t using as much plastic. This container may be filled with filtered water.

3. Use a Leave-In Conditioner

At least once or twice a week, use a deep moisturizing leave-in conditioner to battle dry hair and lessen follicle damage. We advise seeking for goods made of just natural components like jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and argan oil. They are renowned for keeping moisture inside each strand and giving you a smooth, glossy finish.

4. Do a Citrus Rinse

Citric acids, such as lime or lemon juice, work similarly to vinegar in neutralizing the damaging effects of hard water on hair. Lemon rinse has antibacterial characteristics that can help to prevent dandruff growth in addition to improving hair shine.

Use 3/4 cups of water to dilute 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice. After shampooing, apply the mixture to your hair and thoroughly massage it in, giving close attention to the roots. Before rinsing and conditioning, let it on for 5 to 15 minutes.

5. Use a Clarifying Shampoo

There is another way to get rid of the accumulation that hard water generates. Once a week, rigorous cleansing with clarifying shampoo can remove any remaining buildup and restore shine. Your hair will feel less greasy, thick, and irritating once you discover one that works for you.

Avoid products with alcohol and harsh chemicals that might harm your hair in favor of ones with all-natural components.

6. Get a Showerhead Filter

The less expensive alternative to whole-house water softeners is showerhead filters. They are easy to install and are available at any home improvement store. It only has to be connected to your shower head, so let the water flow normally. Scale building in your shower, sink, and faucet are prevented by filters because they lower the percentage of calcium and magnesium flowing from your taps. Although it is less efficient than a water softener, it will greatly lessen limescale and other pollutants present in hard water.

7. Get a Water Softener

All of the solutions mentioned above are temporary. However, for them to have enduring results, you must use them frequently. Investing in a water softener is a long-term solution that will keep your hair shiny and healthy while saving you money on shampoo, conditioner, and style supplies.

Your home’s water supply is made softer by the removal of magnesium and calcium from water softeners, which gives you smooth, manageable, and healthy hair.

Do not wait any longer for a lasting fix if you are sick of your lifeless, dull, unmanageable hair!


When it comes to keeping your hair healthy and strong, the difference between using hard water or soft water is huge. Soft water provides the moisture needed to keep hair healthy, while hard water strips your hair of the nutrients it needs to grow. So, is hard water bad for your hair? Yes! It is best to wash your hair with soft water as much as possible or take precautions to help keep your hair healthy if you have no other option.