Water Types, Explained: How Your Water is Affecting Your Hair
At AQUIS, we believe that excess water of any kind can have adverse effects on your hair - it causes the cuticle layer to open and waterlogs your strands, causing them to stretch and swell. That process weakens your hair and makes it more prone to breakage and split-ends. Open cuticles also cause everyday issues with hair texture: frizz, roughness and lack of shine.
But can the type of water your hair is exposed to impact your hair differently? The answer is yes.
The chemical composition of a specific type of water will interact with the chemical composition of your hair, causing a unique set of bad-hair-day effects with each water type. The more chemically treated your hair is (colored, bleached, relaxed, etc), the more likely your hair is susceptible to damage from these water types. Today we’re breaking down some of the more common types of water, how they can wreak havoc on your hair, and what you can do to protect it before the damage sets in.
Post-pool hair is a state most of us are familiar with - it’s dry, brittle, gummy and doesn’t feel great to run your hands through. The main cause for that is chlorine, which strips the hair of its natural moisture. But it’s not just as simple as that. The natural oils in your hair help your hair to be hydrophobic (since too much water is bad for your hair, this is nature’s way of water-proofing). When that natural moisture is stripped, your hair becomes less water-resistant and even more prone to damage. Not to mention, your hair color is at risk as well. Just like with bleach, the chlorine will oxidize hair color, causing it to fade faster, as well as adding a green tinge to bleached tresses.
Exposure to salt water is most likely going to occur while you’re swimming in an ocean. Much like chlorine, salt water also removes the natural moisture from your hair and scalp. Salt is hygroscopic, meaning that it easily absorbs moisture (think about how thirsty you get after eating salty food), leaving your hair yearning for moisture. Another thing to consider about ocean water is its pH, which is around 8. A healthy pH for your hair is about 4.5-5.5. Having a balanced pH keeps your cuticle smooth and closed and protects the inner cortex of your hair. As the pH of your hair drifts up to an alkaline pH of 8 when you’re swimming in the ocean, the cuticle will open, leading to damage, frizz and tangles.
HARD WATER (Surface Water or Well Water)
Depending on where you live, the water you’re exposed to when you shower can be classified as hard water. Hard water is rich in mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium, which affects hair by causing build-up that’s hard to cleanse from the hair with normal shampoo, especially ones that are gentle and sulfate-free. Build up clogs your hair, making it feel dull, limp and frail, and is often more difficult to style and can look discolored. Hair that is treated is also more susceptible to damage from hard water, because of the chemical relationship between the minerals and treated or damaged hair.
Hard water is the most challenging to avoid since tap water in many areas is rich in mineral deposits. Here’s how various minerals affect your hair:
Calcium: Clogs hair at the mouth of the follicle, causing it to break and block new hair growth
Copper: Weighs hair down
Iron (Usually found in well water): Weighs hair down, gives hair an orange tint, creates an excessive dry feeling
Magnesium: Leaves hair feeling dry and weighed down
Since all types of water can have negative effects on your hair, it’s best to minimize hair swelling to prevent raised cuticles and get your hair to a dry state as quickly as possible. To prevent damage before it gets wet, use a protective product, like the AQUIS Water Defense PreWash. To manage build up after exposure to salt, chlorine or hard water, use a gentle detox or clarifying shampoo once every few washes depending upon where you live and the state of damage to your hair.
Managing your hair’s exposure to various water types may seem tricky but with proper precaution and protection, you’ll be on your way to stronger, healthier hair no matter the water type you encounter.