The chemicals & minerals in our water can have varying effects on your hair and skin, so we’ve pulled together an overview on what you need to know and how to combat different water problems.


The “hardness” of water is determined by measuring the mineral content in your water. Hard water is defined as water with high amounts of calcium and magnesium, while soft water is higher in de-ionized sodium.


While hard water is completely safe for cooking and drinking, the calcium and magnesium can have negative effects on your hair and skin. When you shower in hard water, the calcium and magnesium can cause build up which can lead to:

  • Dry, brittle hair

  • Unwanted damage from color or highlights

  • Inconsistent results when coloring or highlighting

  • Excess Frizz

  • An itchy scalp due to inflammation

  • Dandruff

  • Hair loss due to calcium build up on the scalp

  • Dry skin

Hard water also strips the natural oils from our hair and skin, removing all moisture and compromising hair bonds. While public records report on water quality, a few indicators that your water is hard are cloudy spots on your dishes after washing, an excess buildup of soap scum and low water pressure due to build up. You can also have your water tested to understand the specific components of your water as well.


Water is considered “soft” when it has lower volume of the minerals in hard water and higher amounts of natural, de-ionized sodium. Many people with hard water often install water softeners in their homes, which remove the minerals and use salt to soften the water. Soft water is much better for your hair and skin, allowing the natural oils to maintain moisture.

However, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. Some people have reported that their hair feels dull and flat after switching to softer water, some even reporting hair loss. This is due to the removal of buildup caused by hard water minerals and allows oils to remain, which can result in softer and flatter hair. Some believe they are experiencing hair loss because the removal of the mineral texture makes hair feel flatter. Fortunately, this can be easily combated by using a volumizing shampoo and lightweight conditioner like the anti-thinning Bain Densifique line by Kérastase.


It comes as no surprise that water with high levels of Chlorine is extremely drying for your hair and skin. A chemical agent used to disinfect water and protect against bacteria and pathogens, chlorine is commonly found in public water and while meant to fully dissipate it can sometimes remain high. It’s noticeable smell and taste is often an indicator of high levels, but high levels of chlorine can cause:

  • Dry, brittle hair

  • Scalp irritation and dandruff

  • Hair discoloration (especially for lightened or color treated hair)

  • Unwanted damage from color or highlights

  • Inconsistent results when coloring or highlighting

Water can easily be tested for chlorine levels, and there are filtration systems available to help remove chlorine from water before use.


While hard or highly chlorinated water is not ideal, there are a few ways to help reduce the effect of these minerals and chemicals on your hair. If a water softener or filtration system is not in the cards for you, try the following methods to remove buildup and restore moisture!

Metal Detox In-Salon Treatment by L’Oreal

Knowing how problematic hard water can be for both color treated and natural hair, L’Oreal has created a set of Metal Detox products that are meant to remove buildup from your hair and reduce breakage and the negative impacts of these minerals. The Metal Detox Pre-treatment can be added to your next color treatment at H&F, trapping and neutralizing metals in your hair before coloring which results in more reliable color results.

Available at H&F Salon

Metal Detox Take-Home Products by L’Oreal

In addition to the in-salon treatment, L’Oreal offers a variety of products that will protect your hair at home, once you've received the Metal Detox treatment in-salon. Replace or alternate your typical products with Metal Detox Shampoo and Conditioner, adding continuous moisture and protection with the Metal Detox hair mask once a week. Finish with the Anti-Deposit Protector Concentrated Oil to stop hair breakage and color shift due to hard water.

Available at H&F Salon

Shower Filter

There are plenty of options for shower filters available, which can help to remove mineral buildup and decrease water chlorination. Many even report better water pressure thanks to less buildup and softer, more moisturized hair and skin thanks to the maintenance of natural oils. You’ll need to find one that’s right for your specific shower, like these options that go directly into your shower head by Pentair.

Clarifying Shampoo

A clarifying shampoo can help to remove mineral buildup in your hair, making way for moisture. We recommend K18's Detox shampoo. Simply add this shampoo to your routine and lather hair root to tip, rinsing and following with a moisturizing conditioner on your ends.

  • one wash removes 99% product buildup, 95% sebum, and 76% copper
  • 17 ingredients + patented K18PEPTIDE™
  • activated charcoal + salicylic acid absorb toxins and clear excess oils + dirt
  • pH-optimized

Available at H&F Salon

Scalp Treatments

Your scalp has a delicate Ph, and buildup of minerals (or stripping of chemicals) can result in a dry, itchy scalp and sometimes even hair loss. To combat this, do a clarifying scalp treatment to remove build up and reset your scalp Ph. Try this purifying Scrub Energisant scalp scrub by Kérastase to remove buildup, and follow with a fortifying scalp serum like Kérastase Initialiste to protect and reset your scalp health.

Available at H&F Salon

Use a Hair Mask

As we know, hard water makes it difficult for hair to stay moist due to the stripping of natural oils. This makes added moisture more necessary than ever - which can be provided by deep moisturizing hair masks. We recommend using Oribe Signature Masque once a week, leaving on your ends for a minimum of 10 minutes. As always, we recommend following with a leave-in conditioner and heat protection agent like Oribe's Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray.

Available at H&F Salon

Rinse with Purified Water

While the above methods can reduce buildup and restore moisture, rinsing hair with purified water at the end of a shower can also help. A costly alternative, we understand this may not be doable or ideal. BUT adding this into your mix every now and then when following a scalp treatment and hair mask can help to maintain moisture and reduce hair weakness.


If you’re experiencing dry or brittle hair, a good first step is to get your water tested and understand what type of water you are dealing with. While hard water is never ideal for hair and skin, these simple solutions can help to alleviate build up and dryness and restore hair’s natural oils and moisture. If you’re looking for tailored product recommendations for what’s right for your hair, make sure to consult your H&F Salon Stylist during your next visit!