We all know that water is the best natural ingredient that works wonders for our skin. The essential minerals present in it make our skin glow. However, you have all heard the phrase ‘too much of even a good thing is bad’. No matter how good something is, excess of even that can be bad. Same is the case with water! While water contains beneficial minerals, if they are in excess, then they can make the water hard. Effects of hard water on skin and hair can be harmful, ranging from eczema to lifeless locks, and lots more. Here is all you need to know about how to determine if the water you use is hard, the effects of hard water on the skin and how to protect your skin.
- What Exactly is Hard Water?
- What is the Difference between Hard Water and Soft Water?
- How to Test Hardness of Water?
- What Are The Effects of Hard Water on the Skin?
- How to Protect Your Skin from Hard Water?
- What is the Permanent Solution?
- FAQs about Effects of Hard Water on Skin
What Exactly is Hard Water?
When water has a high content of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium, it is known as hard water. The concentration of the minerals is what makes the water hard. Some tell-tale signs of hard water include:
- Soap not lathering sufficiently
- Low water pressure
- The build-up of scale on faucets
- Clothes feeling rough
- Spots on silverware and glasses
- Thin-film of soap on skin
- Thin-film on doors and walls
- Dry and irritated skin
What is the Difference between Hard Water and Soft Water?
The two types of water cannot be differentiated based on their feel or appearance. The difference between the two types is based on the mineral content of each. Higher levels of calcium and magnesium make the water hard. On the other hand, soft water contains a high concentration of sodium.
How to Test Hardness of Water?
If you are unsure whether the water flowing from your tap is soft or hard, there is an easy soap test that can help you determine it. Take a transparent bottle and fill it with some tap water. Add 10-12 drops of liquid soap (like hand washing liquid) to it. Close the bottle and shake it vigorously. If the soap does not lather much and if there are hardly any bubbles, then it is hard water. You can add some more drops of soap and shake the bottle again. If the bubbles still do not increase, then it is definitely hard water.
What Are The Effects of Hard Water on the Skin?
While drinking hard water has no serious adverse effects, it can affect the skin and hair undesirably. Here are some effects of hard water on the skin.
1. Makes the skin dry
Hard water saps the skin of its moisture, making it dry. This is one of the most irksome effects of hard water on the skin, as every time you touch it, it feels flaky and parched. The reason is that the excessive minerals from the water get deposited on the skin, interfering with its natural protective layer. Hard water also has an alkaline pH level, which messes with the acidic nature of the skin. This alkaline and acidic combination is not a good one, and it makes your skin dull.
2. Leaves skin itchy
Excessive sodium present in the hard water makes the skin feel sticky and itchy. When you apply any skin care products, hard water makes it difficult to wash them off thoroughly, due to which some products may get deposited on the skin, leading to adverse effects. Moreover, the excess minerals present in hard water mess with your soap and shower gel too, leaving a residue behind that may make your skin itchy. This is one other effect of hard water on the skin that can get difficult to deal with.
3. Aggravates acne
When your skin is dry and you clean it with hard water, the undissolved minerals in it cause frequent breakouts on the skin. Moreover, when hard water makes the skin dry, it deprives it of its natural oils. Because of this, the skin becomes more prone to acne, breakouts and irritation. If you are already suffering from a skin condition, like eczema, the effects of hard water on skin can be even worse. Hard water may aggravate the skin condition and cause flare-ups.
4. Leaves spots on the skin
Many minerals present in hard water stick to the open pores of the skin, and when not rinsed off, these can leave behind ugly spots on the skin. This effect of hard water on skin can leave it looking patchy.
5. Damages healthy cells
When you keep using hard water for your skin on a regular basis, it can damage your healthy skin cells. Wondering how that is possible? Elements present in mineral water, such as magnesium and calcium, among others, can break down the collagen in the skin.
For those of you who do not know this, collagen is a protein found in the skin that forms the building block of the skin and is responsible for its elasticity. When this collagen is broken down by the minerals in hard water, it makes the skin vulnerable to damage. This is one effect of hard water on skin that can damage it in the long-term.
How to Protect Your Skin from Hard Water?
Treating hard water is one solution, but it’s cost- and labor-intensive. Besides, drinking hard water does not have any consequences on your health, so only the effects of hard water on skin and hair are harmful. If you do not want to opt for water softening treatment, here are some tips you can use to protect your skin:
- Keep your shower time brief and use lukewarm water to bathe.
- Opt for soap-free cleansers that are gentle on the skin.
- Avoid washing your face frequently.
- After bathing, dab yourself gently rather than briskly rubbing your skin.
- When your skin is still damp after a shower, apply a moisturising body lotion to seal in the body’s natural moisture and prevent the skin from drying out.
- If you have sensitive skin, use products that are fragrance-free, as those can cause more skin problems.
What is the Permanent Solution?
The only permanent solution for this issue is softening hard water. This treatment is labour- and cost-intensive, as mentioned earlier. There are several kinds of water softeners available, so speak to your plumber to determine how installing it may affect your home’s plumbing. It is better to understand the maintenance a water softening system requires before you install it.
FAQs about Effects of Hard Water on Skin
Q. Can hard water age your skin?
A. Hard water strips your skin of its moisture and its natural oils. When it breaks down collagen, free radicals may be released in the skin, which can damage skin cells and cause fine lines and wrinkles. In this way, yes, hard water can age your skin.
Q. Can hard water make your skin burn?
A. No, hard water cannot make your skin burn. However, by breaking down collagen, it may leave your skin vulnerable.
Q. Can hard water cause a face rash?
A. Hard water cannot directly cause rashes, but its minerals interfere in the natural oil production of the skin. It may also strip the skin of its moisture. Due to these reasons, the skin may become red, itchy and dry, which can sometimes lead to rashes.