Hard Water & Soft Water Effects on Skin
Have you ever been to a hot spring or swam in a pure salt water pool? Notice how your skin probably looked amazing, like glowing and smooth for days after?
Ever wonder why all the big models of the 90s claimed to wash their hair with Evian? Or why Evian makes a face spray that's just their water too?
It's the mineral and chemical contents in water that make them hard or soft, and they each have different benefits or pitfalls for skin and health, which we'll be delving into further here....
So What is Exactly is Hard or Soft Water?
According to the USGS, "water hardness is generally the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water". So basically hard water is high in dissolved minerals (mostly the calcium and magnesium), but can be also other elements even like copper, rust, flouride and chlorine.
These minerals and elements can cause buildups of residues that can clog drains and cause poor performance of water heaters, and also, leave hard to clean residues in showers and faucets (like soap scum from hell).
So these buildup residues also act similarly on skin and hair! Hard water can be harsh on the skin's natural barrier and can cause dehydration in the skin, uneven texture and even contribute to clogged pores. For the hair it can make it dull and brittle, even causing brassiness in lightened tones.
So for good skin and hair should I get a water softener?
Not everywhere has hard water. Also, some minerals found in certain waters are actually great for skin and hair. For example, silica is a skin healing, hair softening super mineral, and is what gives the "beauty" properties to Evian water (remember the mist and supermodels washing their hair with it?).
Mineral waters are also extremely beneficial for our health.
Many people in the US are actually mineral deficient from drinking flouridated water that pulls the minerals from absorbing properly in the body. This is why in Europe you will see different mineral waters sold for different health purposes. And abundant hydrotherapie centers or spas in towns that have beneficial mineral water sources that are used in the treatment for chronic health and skin conditions.
Water softeners contain polybromide or iodide resins to break down minerals and pathogens in water. These are both high in iodine which can cause serious breakouts and flare ups for people with acne or who may even be just acne prone.
At the same time regular municipal water supplies high in chlorine (like in southern california), can also contribute dry skin and flare up acne.
So what should I do?
If you're not sure if you have hard water or not, check if you have build up on your glass dishes, coffee pot or in the shower. If theres a white crust that develops on your daily used coffee pot or a constant, hard to scrub buildup around your faucets , you probably have hard water.
Also, check where your water is coming from. Some big cities have amazing water, like in the Bay Area, it's soft water piped in from fresh mountain streams into the cities. While in Los Angeles, it's very chlorinated and hard coming from miles and miles of the Colorodo River with extensive agricultural runoff causing lots of hardness.
If you have hard water buy a shower filter and even a sink filter. They can be very inexpensive. Ive used an amazing one for years from Amazon that was like $65. You just have to change out the filter cartridge 2x/year which is super easy. Only wash your skin and hair in that filtered water, and you will see a difference very quickly in your skin and hair quality and softness.