"The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"

- Psalms 27 : 1

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breakage 101 series #6 : Hard Water


While breakage is mostly caused by the way we treat our hair and the kind of products we use, there is another serious cause of breakage : hard water.

Firstly, what is hard water?

Hard water is water that has a high concentration of Calcium, iron and Magnesium ions and other less important minerals. While this kind of water is not at all harmful to the health, it leaves a destructive trail in water boilers, taps, water pipes and even the hair.

How does hard water cause breakage?

Minerals, like calcium and iron, are great for the hair (and the body), but only when they are inside the body, once there, they can make their way to the hair follicles and serve as a form of nutrient. But when they are on the exterior, they cannot penetrate the strands and have a positive effect, instead, they just sit on the strands. Now, our strands are slightly negatively charged and these mineral ions are positively charged, the end result is that the ions are attracted to our hair strands and attach to it. This blocks out moisture from getting in the hair and the result is brittle, rough, very dry, hair! The en d result of hair that is deprived of moisture is breakage
Another way hard water causes breakage is this : Our hair's pH is quite acidic and strives better when using products with such a pH or neutral water but since the pH of hard water is something over 8 (alkaline pH),  it causes the hair cuticles to swell and they are lifted up as a result. This causes the hair to tangle seriously and easily break off.

How do I know I have hard water?

Hard water is quite common these days and though there are degrees of hard water, you might be a victim :

 - If your tap has a greenish/creamish deposit around it's mouth like in the picture above

- If your hair becomes brittle and dry after a wash

- If you suffer from over tangled hair (even after detangling) after a wash

- If your hair is slowly becoming dull and putting on a strange purplish black color

- If your shampoos do not lather or only lather a bit (please note black soap shampoos do not naturally lather much)

- If you are suffering from serious damage and nothing is working against it

- If your bathing products do not lather and instead, produce a precipitate (a solid layer) 

Please note that there are kits you can buy on the market that will give you a more accurate answer.

What do I do to combat hard water?

- use a chelating shampoo. A chelating shampoo is a shampoo that contains molecules that will readily bind to the calcium and magnesium ions and thus eliminate them when you rinse. Chelating shampoos are more or less like clarifying shampoos but might be a bit more effective. I have never used one but I've heard Joico and Kenra make them.

- use a tap filter. If you cannot find a good chelating shampoo, why not try a filter? A filter prevents all the minerals from getting through and thus keeps them out of the water you use. They are not so expensive (not more than 100 dollars) and you are free to use whatever products you like. 

- use a water softener. These are a bit more expensive because they are connected to the whole water system of a house and then prevents minerals from getting into water used in a whole house.

Can I recover from hard water breakage?

Of course! Try one of the three options above, treat your hair to moisture, protein and nutrients and your hair will be back to it's moisturized, shiny healthy self! While nursing your hair back to health, I would advice you to treat your hair with uttermost care because it's still fragile and any excess tension or pressure will cause breakage.

Where I live, we have very hard water and it caused me a lot of breakage. To battle this, I did not buy a chelating shampoo, though I searched, or a filter or integrate a water softener in my water system, instead, I wash my hair less often, I use bottled water for my daily spritz and products, I focus on moisturizing and treating my hair and...that's it!
If I had my way, i would buy a filter, but for now, the breakage is gone and I have a watchful eye on my hair and hard water. For now, all is well. I believe this is due to some of my treatments. For example, I strongly think pre-pooing with a hot oil treatment prevents mineral ions from depositing on my hair. 
But this is my hair and it's what I think. I do strongly advice you to try one of the three options listed above and so will I, by the grace of God. I will keep you posted!

Do share your suggestions, experiences, additions and love!

Stay blessed and keep it funky!


  1. I discussed this very issue on my blog a few mths bck. I have yet to get a water filter for my hair and I can tell the hard water is reeking havoc on my hair. Breakage an shedding is a HUGE issue for me. I didnt know the info about the shampoo to combat hard water. Thanks for the bit of info.

  2. You are very welcome queen! Once you get the filter or shampoo, breakage should be reduced if not stop!
    Thanks again sis!

  3. I definitely have to get me a new shower head because I KNOW I'm dealing with hard water. Great post sis, Come and check out my blog when you have a chance, I awarded you!!!

  4. Thanks Kiianah for the kind words and the AWESOME blog award! You rock sis! ;)


Thank you for stopping by! It really means a lot! Why don't you tell me what you think, ask a question if you have any or just show some love by leaving a comment? I would love to hear from you!

back to top