Hard Water, Shampoo, Conditioner, Styling Products & Your Hair

The Good

Last week I had to stay with my mom for a few days since she needed some help getting to some important appointments.  She is tentative about driving lately because of weakness she experiences because of her condition.  I was only too happy to lend a helping hand.  While I was there I noticed a significant difference in the condition of my hair.

They have a water softener and always have.  Usually, my husband ends up complaining that the water feels too soft and leaves his skin feeling slimy.  Not this time.  The water was just right and with the products I used it left my hair in the best shape it’s been in, in months.  My brother uses Dove Shampoo and Conditioner for dry hair because he has very thick, coarse, curly hair.  We didn’t bring any of our Pantene Always Smooth so we just used that.  It rinsed out very nicely and left my hair feeling soft.  My hair is also naturally curly, but can be described as more of a natural wave.  It needs a little help with curl enhancers to take a sprunchy curl shape.  What’s nice about this is I have the option of using a round or flat brush and hairdryer to straighten my hair most any time I feel like it.

That day I used some of my husband’s It’s a 10 styling product.  It’s a silicone based hair smoother that is supposed to protect the hair from styling heat and tame fly aways and split ends.  It does leave your hair feeling very nice.  Then over that I used a couple pumps of my mom’s Loreal Anti-Frizz hair smoothing lotion.  Using an oval shaped brush (not round not completely flat) from Avon and an ionizing hair dryer I straightened my hair.  I was amazed at how silky and straight my hair ended up.

The weather was mild and humidity was low so I was able to maintain this look for about three days.  On day three I wasn’t going anywhere until later in the evening so I tried to keep my hair feeling nice for as long as possible.

The Bad

Well, before I tell you what happened next I have to fill you in on what kind of water system we have at our house. Like my parent’s we also have a well, but because it is sulfur water we only use it for the outside spigots.  Our water for washing anything inside the house comes from an 8,000 gallon cistern.  When the cistern collects rainwater the water is naturally soft, but there hasn’t been any rain lately.  The Thursday before we went to my mom’s we realized we had run out of water in the cistern and had to have it hauled in from the local village. Ewwww!  I say this because I’ve seen the lard like sediment that is left behind on the water filters from using this water.  When my brother-in-law, the chemist, was working for the water treatment plant everyone in town benefited from properly treated and filtered water with little sediment.  Politics and other problems led to him getting fed up and leaving his post so he could pay more attention to his local water stores.  Good for him, bad for the village. In any event, we had a full load of water, about 5,500 gallons, hauled in and put in the cistern.

I was very happy to have water so I could wash the dishes, clothes and myself. When I finally did wash my hair, I was happy no longer. As usual I used the Pantene Always Smooth shampoo and conditioner. Since I wanted to repeat my results from earlier in the week I used the It’s A 10 and a bit of anti-frizz lotion on my hair. To my chagrin, my hair ended up parched, puffy and impossible to manage. I surmised that since the products were all the same or very similar it has to be the hard water that messed with the texture of my hair. Yesterday when I washed my hair again, I didn’t even bother with trying to straighten it. I used the Suave Curl Enhancing Spray Gel and Finishing Spray, but still my hair was unevenly curly and dry.

Why does this happen?  Your hair misbehaves when washed in hard water because of the increased mineral content.  Your hair cuticle looks like scales on a snake or the bark of a tree.  When these scales lie flat your hair is manageable and soft. Soft water helps keep things this way because it’s surface tension is much lower than that of hard water. It wets and soaks the hair more evenly and allows you to use less shampoo therefore having less to rinse out. Hard water on the other hand is laden with minerals like calcium, lime, magnesium and iron (that’s why we get a rusty look to our hair and clothes sometimes). These minerals have a tendency to adhere to the hair and make the scales stand up on end. This makes the hair susceptible to dryness, frizziness, breakage and overall unmanageability. Not to mention you end up needing to use more shampoo and conditioner to get the same clean feel which leaves more gunk and can leave your scalp dried out too.

Me so sad, me want soft hair.

The Possible Solutions

Yesterday, in between watching movies with my kiddo, playing and cleaning I did some research.  I wanted to know if there was any such thing as a shampoo/conditioner that was made specifically for dealing with hard water and also if there was a such thing as a water softener/filter for your shower head or faucet only.  I found a plethora of information on both.  As of yet I haven’t purchased anything, but I wanted to share with you what I found and maybe get some feedback if any of you have used these products.

Clarifying Shampoos and Extra Moisturizing Conditioners suggested for hair washed in hard water or just dry hair:

Redken All Soft

Redken Extreme

Redken Hair Cleansing Creme Shampoo

ABBA Molasses Purifier Shampoo and Conditioner

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo*

Herbal Essences Degunkify Shampoo*

Lush Rehab Shampoo*

Olives Best Claryfying Shampoo*

Olives Best Strengthening Conditioner

WEN Healthy Haircare System

Ouidad Water Works (for curly hair)

*It is suggested that these clarifying shampoos be used no more than twice a week.  They must have some pretty powerful detergents and could further dry your hair – and that is not what you want. If anyone out there has used any of these products with success, please do share your experience in the comments.

Another suggestion I found was to use an acid rinse on my hair after it’s been shampooed and conditioned.   By mixing a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice in with purified water or rain water (don’t mix it with your hard water that’ll defeat the purpose all together) you can douse your hair with the acid rinse that will make the cuticle of your hair smooth out.  Click here to see an article from Chagrin Vallen Soap and Craft Company about “Natural Vinegar Hair Rinse”. I liked this article because it explains why our hair acts funny when washed in hard water and what we can do to stop the cycle of dryness.  It also gives recipes for a natural vinegar rinse/toner that can be used on hair and skin.

Using essential oils or herbal infusions in these concoctions is popular and can give your hair a nice scent among other benefits.  For a while I used a product named Curetage.  It is specifically formulated to prevent and hopefully reverse hairloss (I was losing tons of hair due to stress a few years back).  This hair care regimen not only made my hair feel stimulated, but it took care of my dandruff and itching problem and left my hair in better condition.  It contains ingredients like brewers yeast, peppermint and cayenne pepper.  My husband used to call me “pumpkin head” because my head would smell like a freshly baked pumpkin pie when I used the scalp stimulating serum.  Hey, I’d rather smell like pie than be bald.

Apparently, lavender and rosemary are two herbs that are good for encouraging growth, degreasing and adding luster.  I just harvested the dried remains of two such plants so I think I might put them to good use in a hair tonic.  Whatever I try I’ll definitely share the results with all of you.  It looks like I’m going to have to find some two liter bottles or some glass jars to store my experiments in the fridge.

1 comment for “Hard Water, Shampoo, Conditioner, Styling Products & Your Hair

  1. Lupe Alcini
    May 13, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Care of the hair and care of the scalp skin may appear separate, but are actually intertwined because hair grows from beneath the skin. The living parts of hair (hair follicle, hair root, root sheath, and sebaceous gland) are beneath the skin, while the actual hair shaft which emerges (the cuticle which covers the cortex and medulla) has no living processes. Damage or changes made to the visible hair shaft cannot be repaired by a biological process, though much can be done to manage hair and ensure that the cuticle remains intact.’,

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