One thing you may not be aware of is how water quality can affect your hair.  Soft water is usually the kind of water you want to have, but if your water is hard;  it can weigh your hair down, cause a heavy build up on your hair shaft, and cause dryness and frizz!  It can really wreak havoc on your finished style.  You may never have thought about it before, but it’s something to be consciously aware of.  Here’s an example of how it could be affecting your life and you don’t even know it!  I’ll also share some solutions to the problem and a simple test to decipher the quality of your water…
* In the last few weeks I have really been struggling with my finished look. The curls have been weighed down; there’s barely a wave where normally there are lots of waves and curls.  No matter what styling products I chose to try and boost the curl, it just was hanging there; lifeless.  It dawned on me…I hadn’t checked my water softener in a while. I went down to the basement and this is what I found. It was EMPTY! The salt had run out.

My suspicions were correct as to why my hair wasn’t behaving.  The hard water that’s left when the salt runs out of my water softener unit, causes my wavy hair to flop and the curls to be barely there.

I solved the problem by adding a few bags of salt into the unit and voila!  I can’t wait to wash my hair again and have it back to it’s old curly self.  The bonus of having soft water is that it makes my shampoo lather and my curls bounce which makes me one happy curly girl!

The short and skinny is:

Hard water will not allow your haircare products perform as they should, which results in floppy, heavy waves and curls.  If you’re a s’wavy or wavy haired girl, you will have a more difficult time getting your s’waves and waves to show up when your water is hard.  It leaves heavy mineral deposits on your hair that weigh it down, your shampoo has a hard time lathering (also really hard to get products off your hair) and conditioners will not be washed out well either.  This leaves your hair feeling greasy, or that there is something heavy sitting on the hair.  Also, hard water can wreak havoc on your colour and cause blonds to turn rusty and warm.  In general, hard water sucks the life out of your hair.

Here are some suggestions that will help your curls get their groove back:

  • Water softener unit: Similar to the one pictured above is an excellent long term solution if you are planning to stay a while in your home.  If a water softener is not an option, the next best thing is a shower head that filters at least chlorine, dirt and odours from your water but not necessarily the minerals.  You can buy them at your local hardware store such as Home Depot (example in link).  It’s not the same as a water softener, but can help your curls if your water has these issues. There are many brands available on the market, so shop around and do your research to see what the filter actually claim to remove.
  •  Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse:  You can also clarify your hair on a regular basis (try weekly and see what your curls tell you) with a rinse of an Apple Cider Vinegar mix (1 tsp ACV into 1 Cup of water) and apply it between your cleanser and conditioner…scrunch in, let it sit for 5 mins and rinse well and continue with your conditioner.
  • Bottled Water Rinsing: Another alternative is to wash, condition and final rinse your hair over the side of your tub, or your kitchen/bathroom sink using distilled bottled water that is more pure and won’t have the heavy mineral deposits that your tap water may have.  It’s worth a try, as you will definitely notice better finished results when your water is soft.
  • Sulfate Free Clarifying Shampoo: Another suggestion could be using a sulfate free Clarifying shampoo about once a week (or as needed); one that lathers but doesn’t dry your hair out.  I’ve had some great success with Malibu Undoo Goo, and also Mop Top has a Clarifying Rescue Treatment I am excited to try and others have had success with.
  • You can also buy Malibu packets (or ask your favourite stylist to bring some into their salon for you to purchase) that can do the trick to remove the heavy mineral build up on your hair.  A more serious addition for super hard water build up can be adding a teaspoon of powdered Absorbic Acid to your sulfate free Co-Wash and working it in, letting it sit for 5 mins or less and rinsing well, followed up by your conditioner.  Be careful with this one as it’s a really strong treatment, don’t over do it. This would be more of a once a month treatment if your water was extremely hard and all the others suggestions above were not working.

Water quality does make a huge difference in your hair!  When people contact me through my social media, I often wonder if they are not getting the results they want for their hair due to the quality (or shall I say ‘poor quality’) of the water they use.  Maybe they are doing everything right in their styling methods and product applications, but their water is hard and the curls are limp and frizzy as a result.

If you aren’t sure if you have hard water, you can always try this simple test.  Try some of these suggestions and post some feedback in the comments below!

Yours in curls,


* Thank you to my Curly Hair Artistry colleagues for sharing your wisdom with me so I can share with others. A special thanks to Beverly TurnerScott Musgrave, Brianne McCoy-Prince and Melissa Stites for their additions to this blog from their excellent curly hair solutions. 

* I do not get any compensation from any product companies for my suggestions above.  These products and ideas are just what I have found in my experience working on curly hair, including my own.