If you have dry, unruly hair that is full of tangles, or your scalp feels itchy—your water may be the culprit.
I have lived and worked in a variety of locations. One thing that I noticed is how each location’s water has affected my hair and skin differently. The common theme to some horrible hair days (where my once glossy locks suddenly felt like straw and looked lifeless) was water that had a lot of minerals in it, also known as hard water.
“Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone, chalk or gypsum, which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates and sulfates,” explains Dermatologist, Dr. Hadley King. “The minerals in hard water can potentially be drying or irritating for skin, scalp and hair, and can potentially exacerbate dryness from eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, or dryness caused by the use of acne medications.”
The effect, she continues to tell me, “Is due to the fact that when water contains high amounts of calcium, it doesn’t properly dissolve soaps, detergents and other cleansing products—meaning that the soap residue is left on your skin and hair, as well as on your clothes and dishes. This residue can dry out and irritate the skin. And the minerals in hard water can make hair dry, rough, dull and difficult to style.”
Purvisha Patel, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare tells me, “Signs of hard water damage are: breakage, increased split ends, dry scalp, itching scalp, dullness, thinning, decreased growth, tangles, green or brassy hue, and frizziness. Water quality also can cause ones natural color to diminish when it gets dull (like with hard water). When we color our hair we are stripping and depositing pigments into the hair shaft. Water quality can either strip away the color faster or deposit minerals to change the color of the hair (with too much chlorine and copper a green color may occur in blonde). This brassiness requires a special treatment.”
When I ask her how something that is known to be so good for us can wreak havoc on our bodies Patel explains that water comes in varying qualities and that drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day is good for us.
“Our hair is not made of living cells, it is made of keratin (protein) and the integrity of your hair depends on the integrity of your hair follicles. Once the hair is grown however, the keratin containing strands of hair can be damaged by the environment in which they with chemicals and minerals. Water can contain excess minerals that can deposit on the hair and cause issues, or water can be not “hard” enough and not wash oil, microbes and products off our hair resulting in limp, dull lackluster hair or increased dandruff. The scalp or follicular health needs water internally.”
Patel tells me that it all comes down to the water quality you have where you live and that not all cities have water that causes issues with our hair and skin.
She continues, “Some cities have water that does not cause issues with hair quality. If you have either ‘hard water’ or ‘soft water’ (the only ion is sodium- may be mild for washing off shampoos and soaps- and not suitable for drinking) then a filtration system is helpful. If you are not able to have a filtration system, then clarifying and chelating shampoos help with hard water as they can release the deposits of minerals and get your hair back to normal again.”
So if you hair feels as though it is need of a reset, I rounded up four hair care products that will remove minerals, build up, and products to undoubtedly make you hair glossy again and elevate your scalp health.
It wouldn’t be right to do a round up like this and not include AQUIS, a hair care system based on the fact that water weakens hair. Britta Cox, Founder of AQUIS tells me, “Our mission at AQUIS is to help people get their best hair with less effort. AQUIS’ iconic hair drying towels save you time and save your hair. By removing water quickly and gently, AQUIS help reduces tangling, damage and frizz to give you naturally stronger, shinier and healthier hair.”
In addition to using the full AQUIS system, the brand recently launched their Detoxifying Hair & Scalp Wash. Cox tells me, “ Water contains minerals that create buildup inside the hair making it dry, brittle and dull. By removing water quickly, AQUIS Towels helps reduce the amount of mineral buildup inside the hair. It’s also important to use a gentle yet effective detox shampoo to remove mineral buildup. Our formula is gentle and contains effective ingredients such as salicylic acid, charcoal and witch hazel will help remove minerals without drying out or damaging the hair.”
This product has done wonders for removing minerals and reviving the color of my blonde locks and will definitely stay in my weekly routine. I also love the AQUIS Towels, which cuts make my hair drying time in half while protecting my hair from damage caused by the friction of typical cotton towels.
I am a huge fan of all celebrity hair stylist Christophe Robin’s products. But when I need a gentle clarifying shampoo, his Brightening Shampoo With Chamomile And Cornflower is one of my staples.
Robin tells me, “Our tap water contains different chemicals (some countries have added a bit more chlorine in their tap waters due to COVID for instance) and limestone, which can dull the hair in the long term. This is why I have often suggested diluting a bit of water with vinegar and Brightening Shampoo as a way to eliminate these chemicals and bring back shine to the hair.”
The Brightening Shampoo, Robin explains is gentle enough to use regularly without drying the hair. “It resets the hair fiber by removing impurities and boosts natural shine. “I’ve always recommended washing hair 2 to 3 times per week (instead of every day), which also helps regulate sebum production and on the long term makes your scalp less prone to oiliness. Another essential step is to apply a mask at least once a week. The Regenerating Mask(after the Brightening shampoo for instance) is great as it can be applied to the scalp and offers deep nutrition both to your hair and your scalp. In addition our new Regenerating Serum can be used on a daily basis and is a leave-in product so it really is time efficient and very effective.”
Once I find products that work, I usually don’t feel the need to look elsewhere. But, I sure am glad that I ventured out to try PLAYA. I love everything I have tried so far and the fragrance a blend of orange blossom, fresh sandalwood, and pacific musk is intoxicating. Launched in 2017 by Shelby Wild, the clean hair care brand is guided by quintessential California hair—effortless and laidback looking.
“We’re on a mission to de-clutter and simplify your daily routine,” states Wild. “You don’t need to use a multitude of products to have great hair. You only need a few that actually work as promised. Before Playa, I couldn’t find clean, uncomplicated hair products that delivered the effortless look I was trying to achieve. So, I made it my mission to create a line that’s healthy, easy to use, and requires no heat tools. The formulas combine natural plant-based botanicals with clinically active ingredients for truly transformative results without compromising safety.”
The brand just recently launched the Violet Brightening Shampoo, a weekly treatment. “It’s packed with naturally-derived violet pigments (thanks to Butterfly Pea Flower), and it deeply cleanses to neutralize brassiness and rinse away mineral buildup for brighter, shinier strands,” Wild tells me. “While it’s of course a favorite of people with blonde hair, it’s actually great for all hair colors and types. Because the purple pigments are naturally-derived, they not only remove brassiness from blonde hair, but also help to maintain all other hair colors, adding luster and dimension.”
The new product’s ability to remove mineral deposits comes down to the ingredient apple cider vinegar. “It’s a great ingredient for hair that promotes shine and bounce,” explains Wild. “Vitamin C from lemon and lime juice are responsible for neutralizing green tones and brassiness from excess chlorine and poor water conditions. Many clarifying shampoos focus only on stripping mineral buildup, and while they might deliver on that promise, your hair has already taken a beating from mineral buildup, which can lead to crunchy, brittle strands. We believe it’s crucial to actually heal your hair while clarifying, so we included Babassu oil to infuse the hair cortex with essential moisture.”
Another standout product from the brand is the California Salt Shampoo, which takes your scalp to a whole new level of squeaky-clean. When I ask Wild if this product also removes minerals she responds, “This shampoo deeply cleanses the hair and scalp. Since it has exfoliating ingredients, it also removes buildup on a surface level. The difference with the Violet Brightening Shampoo is that it has ingredients that specifically target hard water and mineral buildup. For a truly deep clean feeling, and to be sure you remove any trace minerals, use California Salt Shampoo one day and follow it with Violet Brightening Shampoo the next!”
Sweden-based Maria Nila was founded over 20 years ago by husband and wife Ulf and Ann Wikström and is now run by great grandson Thomas Barka, who is the current CEO. But I just discovered the brand recently when a friend made the suggestion that I try their clarifying line. Like PLAYA, I am glad that I did. The products that I have tried have made a huge difference in the integrity and look of my hair. I have my bounce and shine back.
“We are not the usual haircare brand,” Barka tells me. “Our 100% vegan and cruelty free products are developed out of love for animals, as they should not be part of haircare products. By providing high quality vegan beauty, we make it easy for everyone to take a step towards a sustainable and friendlier world.”
The brand’s Eco Therapy Revive Shampoo includes micellar technology. “Micellar molecules have the ability to effectively capsule oil, grease, and residual styling products into the molecule. The capsuled dirt can then easily be rinsed out with water thanks to the micelle’s dual solubility,” explains Barka. “This collection is developed for all types of hair that needs a more deep cleansing once in a while. If you use a lot of styling products, this is the perfect product for you. If you have very thin and flat hair caused by an oily scalp, this could be your life savior.”
The addition of micellar molecules makes cleansing the hair and scalp highly effective, yet gentle. “It targets residual products, excessive oils, dead skin cells and pollution particles and won’t have any effects on colors or chlorides. Deep cleansing series that can target colors and chemicals often contain higher pH, sulphates and scrub components. Thanks to its Botanical Proteins and Aloe Vera, the Eco Therapy Revive 3-step regimen will leave the hair and scalp soft and nourished,” continues Barka.
If you want to take your scalp health to a higher level try out the brand’s Head & Hair Heal line that Barka tells me has more of a caring and preventive effect on the scalp with active ingredients like aloe vera and piroctone that help prevent dandruff and itchy scalps. Both of these products are in my line up. The next product from this brand I am going to try is the deposit-only Color Refresh Mask that comes in a variety of fun shades.