The picture above is an image of a squeegee I purchased for my shower a little while back. You see I have glass shower doors. One of the huge frustrations I've had to deal with is the constant build-up of soap scum clouding up the glass.
I thought to myself, "if I get this little item, I'll be able to have clear shower door." Boy was I wrong. Little did I know that the cause of the pain and heart ache associated with my cloudy doors had everything to do with the hardness of my water. If you take a good look at the object, you will see that it is practically covered in a layer of white, chalky residue. The layer was so thick that I was able to scrape out some of it with my finger nails. The picture does not do it justice, the residue is thick and extremely obvious. Just to give you an idea of how thick the coating is, that same squeegee you see before you was once clear and see-thru when I purchased it. The squeegee became this way because I let it hang in my shower where it was in contact with hard water on a regular basis
The reason why my once, clear shower doors are now coated and have become opaque is because the water that pours forth from my shower is laden with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates, sulfates, etc. Not only did my hair have to contend with these potential harmful additives, it also had to deal with being exposed to chlorine week after week. It's a miracle, to me, that my hair made it to the lengths it has having been exposed to the same evil water that did this to my shower squeegee.
So what exactly does hard water do to the hair and skin?
The biggest culprit to healthy hair when you have hard water is the unwanted after effect of dryness. It's said that the minerals in hard water raises the cuticle layer leaving the hair feeling rough, dry and prone to tangling. If you guys remember the post on my relaxer stretch, tangles have been my achilles heel for the longest. Another negative side effect of hard water I experienced was the gradual fading of my natural hair color. Over time my hair slowly started to become light brown, slightly rusty color. I've even gone as far as to ask for a black rinse a couple of years ago at the salon to help combat this unwanted look.
Mineral build-up on my hair also had a lot to do with my constant searching for effective hair products. If the water was leaving a layer of residue on my strands, it's only fair to say that some of the conditioners weren't as effective as they could have been had they not have to deal with the hard water. I would clarify constantly but sometimes I felt I had to work twice as hard to get the moisture back in. Let me also mention that hard water is the enemy of the scalp. Because of the layer of residue left behind, the scalp becomes dry and itchy. Existing scalp problems like eczema and dandruff are made worse when your water is hard. I couldn't even tell you how annoying it was to have to deal with dry hands and feet after the simple act of showering. Now imagine what my poor scalp had to deal with. Hard water is no joke.
If you take a look below, you will see a color-coded map of the U.S. This map details the states with relatively hard or soft water.
The parts of the map colored light blue, white and red are considered to be areas of hard water. As you review the map, I also ask that you not only rely on this information but that you also try to validate for yourself if you water is harder than you think. I Googled a hard water may for my state, according to the map, my general area should have softer water than the rest of the state. That notion is complete hogwash when you look at the white coating on my poor squeegee.
Long story short, I have finally come to a place where I have found a solution to this hard water problem. Ladies, let me introduce you to the Water Stick. The Water Stick is unlike any other filter on the market. What you will find as you browse through the wide variety of shower filters online is that 99% of them only remove the chlorine. The shower stick, however, will not only remove the chlorine, it actually filters out all of the minerals leaving the water as soft as a new born kitten. I've always wanted a whole house water filter but didn't feel like making the monetary investment required of such a purchase. This Water Stick, to me, was like a prayer answered.
The water filter was under $200 which is a fraction of the price of a whole house filter. I was also comforted by the fact that the filter will last between 15-20 years. The only maintenance required would be the recharging of the filter which basically means adding salt water to it when necessary. Ladies, the very first time I used this filter I could tell the difference. Soft water is unlike any other water my skin has experienced before. The water felt slippery and delicate. I was in heaven. I feel so much more confident now when I wash my hair that it is experiencing the full effect of the products I use. My skin also feels much less itchy and irritated now. I don't have to use as much lotion and skin moisturizers as in times past. Oh, and by the way, the Water Stick also has a chlorine filter attachment as part of the overall package.
For those of you who aren't ready to make a $200 investment, there are other ways to combat the hard water dilemma. A rinse with apple cider vinegar helps to remove mineral build up. Shampoos with EDTA are another option but for those of us who are moving away from stripping shampoos to moisturizing cleansers, this option is not as desirable. I've even used distilled water as an alternative to mineral laden water that flows from my faucets. Instead of having to worry about which shampoo to use, or having to lug gallons of distilled water into the shower on a regular basis, I decided to go ahead and rid myself of this hard water dilemma once and for all.
This is my way of educating those of you who are constantly struggling with dry brittle hair at the hands of the very ingredient that should be brining moisture to the hair....water. As you look online at water filter options, please be aware that all filters are not created equal. What you need to be certain of is the assurance that the filter you want to purchase is capable of removing minerals, not just the chlorine.
For further reading, here is a thread on longhaircareforum where a member discusses her experience with the water stick.