Hard water is not often spoken about in regards to hair care, however it can in fact have a huge impact on the quality, texture, and natural manageability of your hair and hair extensions.
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water which holds a high mineral content. This occurs when water that makes its way through our pipes and out of our shower and taps passes through limestone and chalk on its journey, which is largely composed of calcium and magnesium carbonates.
Hard water is not visible as it streams out of our taps, however its presence is noticeable in the residue it leaves behind, what we refer to as lime scale.
How Does Hard Water Affect Hair Extensions
If you live in a hard water area, which most of us in the UK and USA do, your hair could be affected by hard water. Just think about the lime scale that forms in your kettle, around your taps and on your shower door. Not only is this making keeping your bathroom clean more difficult, but the same residue is also sitting on the surface of your hair, and with every wash you will continue to add to the problem without even realising it.
How Do I Know If Hard Water Is Affecting My Hair Extensions?
There are many signs that your hair is being affected by hard water, and if you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below the cause of this could be hard water.
Is your hair….
- Tangling easily
- Difficult to brush, particularly after washing
- Do you experience difficulty in fully removing shampoo and conditioner during washing?
- Dull and lifeless
- Unable to hold colour or other treatments
- Fades quickly
- Your blonde hair has become brassy, orange or pink
- Prone to breakage
All of these are signs that you could be suffering from the effects of hard water, and whilst this is not entirely detrimental, those looking for beautiful, glossy hair may wish to take the appropriate steps in correcting this issue to gain better control of their hair and haircare routine.
Hard Water And It’s Impact On Human Hair Extensions
If you are washing your hair in a hard water area, this can impact your hair extensions and therefore you need to take the appropriate action to limit the affect this can have on your new locks. The reason it is particularly important to identify this issue for those who wear hair extensions is that this hair will not have the ability to naturally correct itself like our own hair does. For our own hair, in the presence of hard water our scalp will begin to over produce sebum (what we refer to as “grease”) in order to keep the hair nourished and moisturised, limiting the affect the hard water has on the hair. However as your hair extensions are not attached at the scalp, your hair extensions will not receive this level of support, and therefore you will need to step in to protect them yourself. This is why when wearing hair extensions you may find that your hair extensions suffer worse in the presence of hard water than your own hair does, and this is because
- Your own hair has been coping with the same type of water for a long time so your scalp has already made the relevant adjustments to protect itself as best it can
- Your hair extensions receive 0 nutrients from the scalp, and have no sebum presence, which is the key factor in keeping hair moisturised.
Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to work with which we shall detail below, to help you protect your hair extensions from hard water.
Using Hair Oils On Hair Extensions To Reduce The Impact Of Hard Water
Sebum, the natural oil produced from the scalp plays a vital role in keeping hair nourished, soft and shiny. As your hair extensions will not receive this directly from the scalp as your own natural hair does, you will need to use a product to replace it. Hair oils are a great way to achieve this, especially those which are 100% pure. By applying to the mid lengths and ends of your hair extensions a couple of times a week, you will be ensuring that your hair extensions are receiving the nourishment they require, and for those in a hard water area this will be especially important.
In addition to our own aftercare range, we are proud stockists of hairapeutix, which is an all natural oil treatment designed to restore and nourish hair extensions, and the best part…its 0% silicones, sulfates or any chemical nasties! Shop hairapeutix here.
Washing Your Hair Extensions In An Alternative Water Source
For optimum results, you will need to consider taking measures to soften your water source. This can be achieved through installing a filter system that will affect all water sources in your home. Whilst your hair will thank you to no end, and you will see a significant reduction in the production of limescale on your surfaces, these systems can cost anywhere upwards for £1000, so are not the most practical solution to this problem.
Using A Filtered Shower Head When Washing Your Hair Extensions
Installing a soft water system can be very expensive, however there is another option that can work very well, which is a filtered shower head. These are available for purchase online from around £39.95, and most will fit all traditional shower hoses making them very quick and easy to install. By passing the water through the filter system located within the shower head, many of the elements that make your water “hard” will be removed before they can be deposited on your beautiful hair. This method will not work as perfectly as a fully installed water softening system, however it will make a huge improvement. You will need to bear in mind that the filter system will need to be replaced once every 6 months or so, as the more it is used the less effective it will be, therefore we would not recommend using the shower head any other time other than to wash your hair. Simply keep your old shower head to one side so that when your partner is showering, or you are just doing a body wash, you are not using your filter system, ensuring it lasts the optimum amount of time before it needs changing.
Temporary Solution For Clean Water Sources When Washing Hair Extensions
If a water softening system or filtered shower head is not a suitable option for you, you will need to begin substituting the water you use on your hair to inexpensive filtered water or bottled water. Of course you will still be able to wash your body using your normal water supply, but use the filtered water on your hair only. If choosing this option you will need to reduce washing your hair to once or twice a week, as over the long run this of course will prove to be expensive, and should only be seen as a temporary option.
How Does Hot Water Affect Washing My Hair Extensions?
If neither of these are an option, studies have shown that iron and the other chemicals found in water are more likely to affect hair when the cuticle is opened, and this happens during the application of warm/hot water. By reducing the temperature the cuticle is less likely to open, and will hopefully stop the iron from settling on the hair, therefore try using cold or lukewarm water when washing your hair.
Using The Hair Extension Saturation Technique To Protect Your Hair From Hard Water
There is a technique that is used by some to minimise the effects of a negative water source impacting the hair, read all about the saturation technique here.