Even before I was obsessed with nutritious plant-based eating, I enjoyed strong, healthy hair. For this, I assume I can thank my genes. While my hair didn’t necessarily become intrinsically unhealthy over time, I did go through a period of less-than-lustrous locks before making a game-changing discovery.
A recent trip to my parents’ house in North Carolina reminded me just how shiny my hair can be when I shower with soft water (how I miss the East Coast and it’s low-mineral water!). Without blow-drying or straightening, my hair was the shiniest it had been in a while (probably since my last trip to the East?).
That shiny East Coast hair.
In my more recent dwellings in Oregon and now Corpus Christi, TX, the tap water has contained more minerals (making it “hard water”), which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing…until it came to my beauty routine. Because hard water isn’t as conducive to soap lather as soft water is, shampoo is less likely to do its best work when used with hard water. (I’m not saying that I need squeaky clean hair, however. Some natural oils are healthy for hair.) Moreover, soap is less likely to rinse off skin and hair cleanly, and remaining soap residue can contribute to drier, more irritated skin and drier, duller hair that’s prone to build-up. Hard water may also be a factor in uncomfortable, dry scalp.
Personally, I experienced dry, itchy skin (including on my scalp) and dull, heavy hair. While individual strands seemed healthy enough, my mane, as a whole, looked in need of a superfood shampoo.
But that’s the thing—while I’ve tried several amazing vegan/green beauty shampoos—and shine serums—nothing quite undid the work of my hard tap water. I would turn to clarifying shampoos to fight buildup around my roots and ultra-moisturizing conditioner to restore shine and softness to my ends. I got by with this system for years, but I knew my hair had more potential. (And why shouldn’t one believe in her hair?)
Thus, build-up became a fact of life, and I often turned to a simple mixture of baking soda and water to aid my clarifying shampoo. (The fact that I regularly needed this duo was a bit crazy because I don’t have a particularly oily scalp, I rarely use hair products around my roots, and there’s no way all of that buildup could the product of a sweaty workout!). While this DIY solution is priceless, I longed to avoid my hard water issues altogether.
I finally had a breakthrough when I installed a water filter shower head. The difference in the quality of my hair was immediate. With just regular shampoo (no baking soda!), my hair had body, softness, manageability, and shine. Now, I feel more comfortable branching out beyond clarifying shampoos (imagine!) and even using more hair styling products when the mood strikes.
Soft and shiny, thanks to my shower filter.
I’ve also noticed a difference in my skin. It’s rarely itchy or dry anymore, and I only need lotion to moisturize. (I used to rely heavily on body oil, which took a while to absorb.)
While there are several water filters on the market, I am enchanted with Raindrops. It *is* a bit of an investment, but I know I’ve spent more on hair “detoxifying” treatments over the years, so it’s been worth it to me. In addition to making the water softer, the six-step system removes heavy metals, sediment from metal pipes (which can make blondes brassy), and chlorine—and I have reason to believe there’s a good bit of chlorine pumped into our tap water after there were multiple cases of sewage in the tap water in Corpus Christi. (Aaackk!)
Anywho, if the tap water in your area is hard, or if you’re using well water, I definitely suggest trying a shower head filter. Ditto if you happen to have sensitive skin. Most shower head filter models include a cartridge that’s replaced twice a year, so they require very minimal maintenance. Again, Raindrops is just one model out there! Culligan is another popular brand and comes at a more affordable price point.
Do you have hard water? How do you cope, beauty-wise?
Related: 5 Simple DIY Tips for Managing Oily Hair
These 5 Vegan Hair Products Will Give You Magically Good Hair Days
Winter Beauty Reboot: 5 Tips to Nourish Skin and Hair
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Photo: Alexander Zdrobau via Unsplash, Mary Hood Luttrell