Have you ever wondered why some people seem to effortlessly have red-carpet-ready hair while others struggle to achieve the same level of perfection? The secret may lie in the often-overlooked factor of water quality. The water you use to wash your hair can make a world of difference in its overall health and appearance. Here are some of the most common aspects of water quality that may be affecting your hair and causing hair problems and what you can do about it.
The Impact of Water Quality on Hair
pH Levels: Finding the Perfect Balance
One of the key factors to consider regarding water quality and hair health is the pH level. pH, or potential of hydrogen, measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The more hydrogen ions a substance contains, the more acidic it is and vice versa.
pH levels are measured on a scale from 0 to 14. While a pH level of 7 is considered neutral, levels below 7 are acidic and levels above 7 are alkaline. For example, bleach is highly alkaline and has a pH level of 13 and vinegar is very acidic, having a pH level of 2.
pH levels are crucial in maintaining the delicate balance of your hair's natural oils and proteins. Hair strands have a slightly acidic pH level, ranging from 4.5 to 5.5, which helps to keep the cuticles closed and maintain the overall texture, feel and definition. When the pH of the water you use to wash your hair is too high or too low, it can disrupt this balance and lead to various issues.
If the water you use has a high pH level, it can cause the hair cuticles to open up, making your hair more porous and prone to damage. Eventually, this leads to dry, frizzy and brittle hair that has a dull appearance and tangles easily.
Achieving the right pH balance for your hair can be a game-changer. It helps keep your hair cuticles closed, making your strands shiny and soft. So, how can you find the perfect balance? One option is to use pH-balanced hair products specifically designed to restore and maintain the optimal pH level of your hair.
pH level is only one factor in water quality that has an effect on the hair. Chemicals and mineral deposits also have a significant impact on hair health. So, let’s take a look at how a chemical like chlorine can change how your hair looks and feels.
Chemicals: Protect hair from chlorine water
Chlorine is a common chemical in swimming pools to keep them clean and bacteria-free. While it is important in water treatment, chlorine can negatively affect your hair. When chlorine comes in contact with your hair, it can strip away its natural oils, leading to dryness and damage. It not only removes the natural oils but also hair lipids that moisturise strands, keeping them healthy and more manageable. Additionally, chlorine can cause your hair colour to fade quickly, leaving it dull and lifeless.
Luckily, there are several ways you can shield your hair from chlorine and minimise chlorine water hair damage. You can protect your hair from chlorine while swimming by wetting it with fresh water before entering a chlorinated pool. By saturating your hair with clean water beforehand, you can minimise the amount of chlorine that is absorbed by your hair. Additionally, wearing a swim cap can provide an extra layer of protection and further shield your hair from chlorine exposure.
Salt Water: Protecting Your Hair from Damage
While sea and ocean water is filled with vitamins and minerals that have their own advantages, it is important to consider the damage they can do to the hair. The high salt concentration in the water dehydrates the hair and scalp, drawing out natural moisture and oils that help keep the hair healthy and conditioned. The damage to the hair cuticle also leads to further problems such as dryness, split ends, frizz and brittleness.
If you have colour-treated hair, exposing it to salt water can also cause the colour to fade quickly, making it look duller and less vibrant.
For those with sensitive skin, salt water can also be a source of irritation to the scalp, leading to itchiness, inflammation and flakiness.
While your hair may be subject to the effects of salt water once in a while, a more pressing concern is hard water that over 70% of Indians receive in their taps and showers, so let’s look at hard water next.
Hard water: The Effects of Metal Ion Deposits
Besides impurities such as dirt, mineral content plays a big role in the health and appearance of your hair. Calcium, magnesium, iron and other minerals are found in water in varying amounts, depending on how hard the water in your area is.
When you wash your hair with hard water, these minerals deposit on your hair and scalp, creating a layer of metal ions. They block the pores on your scalp and coat the hair strands, making it more difficult for shampoos and conditioners to work effectively. Some signs of hard water effects on hair include a lack of volume, a flat and limp appearance, hard water-related breakage, while you will notice oiliness, flakiness and itchiness of the scalp.
The best way to protect your hair from these problems is by investing in hard water hair treatment – a hair care routine tailor-made to fight against these metal ion deposits.
Read more about reversing hard water damage on hair here.
Changing water qualities
From pH and chlorine to varying hardness levels of water, many factors affect hair health. If you go on vacation or travel a lot, your hair will most likely be washed with different water qualities - high or low pH levels, hard or soft water, etc. This difference in water type can also cause damage to your hair. The best way for your hair to thrive is by consistently being washed with high-quality water using high-quality hair products.
While ensuring you get only the best water quality to wash your hair may not always be in your control, what you can do is pay attention to the hair care products you use. From maintaining optimal pH levels to sloughing away hard water deposits, the ideal hair care system for your hair type will help keep hair problems caused by water quality at bay.
Optimising Your Hair Care for the Best Results
One such hair care routine that checks all the right boxes when it comes to reversing the effects of bad water quality is the Complete Professional System from iluvia. It is designed for professional-level care, is suitable for normal to oily hair types, and can be used on treated hair too. It includes a shampoo, conditioner and serum to make the most of a hair wash.
Get started with the Hard Water Shampoo, designed with nature-derived chelating agents that bind to metal ion deposits, effectively removing them and gently cleansing the hair and scalp. It prevents further deposition of these metal ions. The deep-cleansing shampoo also combats hair damage and gives the hair more volume and lift.
After shampooing your hair, apply the Squalene Restorative Conditioner. The deep conditioning formula uses plant-derived Olive Squalene as one of its main ingredients. Olive Squalene boosts volume, strength, elasticity and softness. The lightweight, non-sticky conditioner also contains pure Moroccan Argan Oil to reduce frizz and tame flyaways.
And for the finishing touch, adding a drop of the Intensive Hair Care Serum to your hair will create an insulative barrier to protect it from damage caused by heat styling treatments. Besides restoring the hair’s natural lipid barrier, the serum that contains Moroccan Argan Oil, Baobab Seed Oil and Olive Squalene Oil makes the hair softer, smoother, frizz-free and more manageable. The serum is also lightweight and doesn’t weigh the hair down or disrupt the hair’s volume.
If hard water isn’t an issue for you, but you’re looking for a mild, pH-balanced hair care solution to cleanse your hair and prevent hair damage, you can try the Pro Maintenance System instead. This hair care system includes the Sulfate Free Shampoo, Hair Repair Mask and Hair Protection Serum.
The Sulfate Free Shampoo has a micro-emulsion technology that helps cleanse the hair gently but effectively. It helps maintain and protect dry and brittle hair from further damage. When combined with the Hair Repair Mask, it maintains the right moisture balance, preventing frizz and stickiness.
Additionally, the Hair Repair Mask has a revolutionary hydrophobic formula that repels humidity and protects against excess moisture. It tackles split ends, dryness, frizz and tangles, giving it long-lasting softness.
Finally, the Hair Protection Serum shields the hair from damage caused by environmental pollutants, UV light and heat.
Unsure if this hair care system is the right fit for you? Take iluvia’s 3-wash challenge to find the most suitable hair care routine for your needs.
By prioritising water quality and implementing a solid hair care routine, you can get healthy, radiant hair every day of the year. So, what are you waiting for?
Head to iluviapro.com to check out the entire range of pH-balanced, sulfate- and paraben-free, hypoallergenic and cruelty-free products.