Have you ever noticed that your hair feels different when you travel somewhere new? Has your hair felt softer than usual on vacation? It's likely that the reason for this perceptible change is water hardness.
What is hard water?
Water hardness refers to the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. Hard water contains a large amount of dissolved minerals, calcium and magnesium primarily. The calcium and magnesium ions in hard water bind to your hair and cause buildup, reducing the efficacy of your conditioner.
How do I know if I have hard water?
You really have to test your water to know if it's hard with any certainty. The good news: it's easy, affordable, and accurate to DIY. Not all test strips are created the same, so it's important to seek out a high quality manufacturer. Before selecting the test strip included within our hairID Complete Hair Assessment Kit, we did extensive bench testing to confirm its accuracy and consistency.
How to combat hard water.
Once you confirm the presence of hard water, you can focus on incorporating products specifically formulated to combat mineral buildup into your routine. The most common weapons against buildup are shampoos fortified with chelating agents. Chelating agents, of course, work best when there are minerals to battle. If your water is not actually hard, they can actually act like a clarifying shampoo and disrupt your hair routine.
We're often asked about the difference between clarifying shampoos and those containing chelating agents. Put simply, a clarifying shampoo combats the buildup resulting from product (ie. residue from styling products), and chelating shampoos combat mineral buildup (such as calcium, magnesium, chlorine etc.)
While clarifying and chelating shampoos can be great for keeping your strands clean, it's important to consider the holistic profile of your hair. Factors such as porosity and cuticle condition dictate the frequency with which you can use them, if at all.