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The Hard Truth: What Your Water Could Be Doing To Your Hair!

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Breakage, discoloration, and hair thinning are just some of the symptoms of hard water damage. From a professional stylist’s perspective, a client with damaged hair due to hard water can require 2x the service time, and in this industry, time is money.

Hardwater; not the latest alcoholic beverage trend.

Water is essential to good health and hygiene. What if I told you that the same minerals that nourish your body could also be causing your hair to become thin, change color, and break off. Calcium, copper, and iron are common minerals found in your water, and at higher concentrations, have damaging effects on your hair. Commonly, hard water is prevalent in many homes. Is it in yours?

Put your water to the test.

There are several tell-tale signs your home has hard water. The most obvious is the noticeable calcium residue left behind on your dishes after being run through the dishwasher, or perhaps you have noticed that your water pressure is not as it should be. Higher levels of minerals can cause build-up affecting both your home and your body. If you are still unsure if you are dealing with hard water, pick up a pack of test strips from your local hardware store, the tests are easy to administer and give results in minutes. You may be surprised to find higher elevations of other minerals such as iron and copper in your tap water as well. In the next section, we break down the effect common minerals found in home water supplies have on hair.


Cleansing hair with water containing a higher ratio of calcium to magnesium can cause build-up on both the scalp and the hair shaft. Excess build-up on the scalp results in flaking of the skin and often blockage within the hair follicle. Hair shafts can become brittle and dry from lack of proper oil distribution due to clogging along the scalp. A noticeable effect is that hair may not hold curls. You may notice what appears to be diminished hair growth. In reality, the hair is breaking off as it is growing in.


Blondes should be wary of copper in their tap water. If you notice a green tint to your hair, odds are there are elevated levels of this mineral in your home water supply. If you have recently been in a swimming pool, copper will bind with chlorine and create a film around the hair shaft resulting in green-tinted hair. Consuming water with a copper concentration can cause hair to appear lifeless and can cause hair loss.


Water containing high levels of iron can cause hair to be harder to process. When color treating hair, pigments bond to any iron build-up instead of the actual hair shaft itself. Darkening of color will begin to happen when iron over time penetrates the hair. Often a client will return for a touch-up, and you will notice the coarse texture and the color of the hair will appear uneven.

Hair RX

Cut and Extension Specialist Dani, Educator here at Sierra and Sage, gave us her secrets to bringing a client's hair back to life after hard water damage.

“There is no overnight fix, but with the right products and educating your client on proper care, together you can breathe life into dull hair.” -@callmedanistyles

*Pro Tip: Use the Sierra & Sage Don’t Make Me Blush Brush in the shower to brush through hair that is difficult to detangle.

The number one tool for combating hard water at home is getting yourself a filtered shower head. Dani's top pick is the Raindrops 901 shower head and filter. The easy-to-install filter eliminates harmful minerals and improves the condition of your hair and skin. A Clarifying Shampoo used once weekly can also help combat hard water in the home. To take it a step further, Dani recommends the Malibu Hard Water Treatment be used once per week.

*Pro Tip: Salon treatments like the Malibu Crystal Gel or the Malibu Rehab Wefts & Extensions Treatment are the perfect service for a client that needs a little hair resuscitation.



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