hard-water-hair

Three weeks after moving into my new apartment, I looked like I’d put on five years. My skin was dry and papery, and my hair was dull and flat and frizzy. I had no idea what was going on. I thought it might be stress. Or just age suddenly catching up to me. But then I started to notice all my glassware had turned opaque, and the electric kettle I used for making tea looked like it was full of dandruff in the bottom. That’s when I learned that my new apartment had very, very hard water, and I started to wonder if that could be what was having a nasty effect on my skin and hair. Turns out it was!

(Related: Micellar Water Is the French Pharmacy Secret That Will Change the Way You Wash Your Face)

Hard water is full of different minerals. These minerals can give the water different tastes or smells, and they also can effect the look of your skin and hair. Hard water is perfectly fine to drink but it can make you feel like you have a dry, chalky residue that won’t wash off your skin and dries you out. And all that stuff that coated my glassware? It was also coating my hair and making it look just as dull and chalky. Laundering in hard water also seems to be pretty hard on clothes.

But there are some things that can be done to help.

To keep hair from getting too chalky from a buildup of water residue, every once in a while I use a clarifying shampoo designed to clean away mineral build-up. It is really drying on my already pretty dry hair, so I try not to use it more than once a month or so. I’ve also been using coconut oil as a hair mask on occasion to help with deep-conditioning. Between the hard water and the coconut oil, the drain in my shower must be disgusting. But I’ll clean that out when I get to it.

Skin is a bit more of a challenge. I’ve been dealing with it by just using as little water on my face as possible. In the mornings I stopped washing my face in the sink and use a brief thermal water spray instead. In the evenings, I wash my face, then follow with the thermal water after rinsing with my ridiculously hard tap water.

In places with very hard water, like Paris, some people have taken to using micellaire water as a cleanser. It removes makeup and dirt, but does not need to be rinsed off with water. Thus it cleans the skin without having to expose it to more of the tap water. That’s becoming an increasingly popular option.

When your house has hard water, I find toner is even more important than it might otherwise be. I just use rose water on a cotton pad, but whatever alcohol-free toner you like will work. Also, be sure to moisturize. because that mineral buildup on the skin can be very drying.

So far this has been working pretty well for me. If you have a good solution for hard-water problems, please let us know in the comments!

(Photo: tderden/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)