Effects of Hard Water on Skin: Environmental Effects on Hair, Skin & Beauty

Woman smiling at camera with foaming cleanser on face

You rely on water for more than drinking. Your skin and hair also need hydration, and you use water every day to wash your face or when you shower.

However, not all water is created equal. The water running through your pipes can have negative effects on your skin and hair…and you may not even realize your water is to blame.

If you’ve been experiencing dry skin and crunchy, dull hair, you may have hard water. Read on to learn more about the side effects of hard water on skin and hair and the steps you can take to reverse the damage.

So, What’s Hard Water?

Hard water can sound like an oxymoron. After all, water is a liquid, how can it be hard?

When we’re talking about hard water, we’re referring to the concentration of minerals found in it. More specifically, the Department of the Interior explains that the definition of water hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. Hard water is high in these dissolved minerals.

And while drinking hard water is fine (in fact, it can help you hit your daily goal for these minerals), it can be damaging to your skin and hair.

How to Tell if You Have Hard Water

Want to know if you have hard water? There are a couple of telltale signs that your water supply has an abundance of minerals:

  • Skin irritation: Hard water can leave your skin feeling dry and lead to clogged pores. In some cases, it can even exacerbate skin conditions like eczema. This is because the build-up of minerals over time can disrupt your skin barrier.

Of course, there are other environmental factors that can also irritate your skin. For instance, dry weather or sun exposure can also damage your skin. To know if water quality is the culprit, you should look for other signs.

  • Dry or brittle hair: Similarly, hard water can damage your hair. According to Byrdie, the minerals in hard water can lead to drier, duller hair that is more prone to tangles and breakage over time. 
  • Soapy film: One of the most obvious signs you have hard water is if you see or feel a film of residue after you wash your hands or face with soap. Soap reacts with the calcium in hard water, which creates what we see as “soap scum.” It can leave your skin feeling scummy and your hair greasy and you may also notice it after washing your glasses.
  • Spots: Are you finding yourself having to use more detergent to get your glasses clean? Seeing mysterious stains after washing your clothes? Hard water can leave mineral spots and that soap scum film on your glasses and clothes.
  • Poor water pressure: Finally, you may also notice you have low water pressure. This can be a result of mineral deposits forming in your pipes and disrupting water flow.

As you can see, the effects of hard water on your skin (and your glassware) aren’t ideal. The soapy film can build up on your skin, leaving you with dry, irritated skin that never quite feels clean. 

Places Where Hard Water is Common

There are some places in the country where hard water is more common, such as the Midwest (close to the Mississippi River) and southern Florida. Here’s a handy map from Homewater101 that shows areas where hard water is prevalent.

Fixing Your Hard Water

Luckily, fixing your hard water problem at home is relatively easy and there are long-term solutions available. One of the best ways to solve the issue is to have a Water Softener installed. U.S. Water Systems explains that this water filtration system filters out the hard water minerals in your water, leaving you with soft water.

It’s best to have a plumber come to install this system, but for something more DIY you can also add water purifiers to the shower heads and faucets around your home. These filters are easy to install and may be a more affordable option.

Reversing the Effects of Hard Water on Skin

Woman washing face with water at bathroom sink

One of the best ways to reverse the effects of hard water on skin is to stop using hard water! With the right filtration system, you will start to see and feel your hair and skin becoming soft and healthy again.

Of course, you should also give your skin some extra TLC that it deserves. Since hard water affects your skin’s barrier, it’s important to clean away any buildup and then hydrate your skin.

A Detox mask is perfect for eliminating these environmental toxins and dullness in addition to cleaning out clogged pores. Or, make sure to add a Hydrating facial sheet mask to your nightly routine. This can help you combat dehydrated skin and soothe those dry patches on your face caused by hard water!

With soft water and hydrating beauty products, you’re on your way to reviving your dewy, healthy complexion. Explore more of our skincare favorites for dry skin at Patchology!