Beating hard water: best shampoos, soaps & hair tips
Here’s a rather scary fact:
Close to 85% of us Americans live in areas with hard water. Quite a few people don’t care about this…but the fact you landed on this post means something.
You realize the harmful effect hard water can have on our hair.
Luckily, there’s a few ways for us to restore our locks’ brilliance. My preferred solution is this Malibu treatment kit, though there are other options like purifying and chelating shampoos.
I’ll explore them all with some personal notes! Some of them can be used daily, while others are more of a weekly treatment.
In fact, I suggest not using the Malibu daily. It’s too strong, so I pair it up with a normal shampoo for my daily needs:
Now, it’s not the one and only best shampoo for hard water. Some quick recommendations before I go deeper into the hard water topic:
- Malibu Treatment
- Best for:
Shampoo + conditioner kit. Concentrated treatment included (4 p.)
9 oz (both shampoo & conditioner)
- Daily use?
Not recommended. Limit weekly uses.
- Hairprint Natural
- Best for:
100% plant-based, natural chelating shampoo. Scent-free & no-foam.
8 oz bottle
- Daily use?
- Ion Purify
- Best for:
Purifying shampoo for extra shiny hair. Great quantity.
33.8 oz bottle
- Daily use?
- Kirk's Castile
- Best for:
Bar soap that works well for hard water areas. Proper ingredients & aloe vera smoothness.
- Daily use?
I’ll get to reviewing them later, but let’s first see how your hair is actually under threat.
What does hard water actually do to your hair?
First, let’s define what exactly this term means. It’s pretty simple:
“Hard water” is rain water that, unfortunately, became quite high on mineral content.
Often met unwanted agents here include various sulfates, bicarbonates and the biggest culprits to our hairaches: calcium and magnesium.
If we don’t use special hair products for hard water treatment, this little nightmare leads to unpleasant effects like:
Dry hair that’s lost its shine
Decreased amount of natural oils in your hair
Tangled hair that’s a nightmare to brush
But above all, dangerous mineral buildup you can’t rinse off your hair, leeching of your locks’ health all the time.
^This is how hard water can make you feel sometimes.
Our luscious locks are just not used to deal with such a high amount of minerals and other agents. They much prefer soft, pure water devoid of pesky enemies to its brilliance.
Soft water warmly caresses our hair: it untangles itself, which makes it easy to rinse off any shampoo or soap. Hard water, on the other hand, causes our locks to get “stiffer”, rougher and simply tangle unpleasantly.
And you know what a pain washing shampoo off hard, tangled hair is. In fact, it won’t dissolve properly, staying right there in our poor hairs.
Combine that with the mineral buildup and the stripping your hair of its natural oils, and there’s a true recipe for disaster.
Our hair feels heavy, flat, dirty. Untamed. Conditioners are less effective due to the dreaded buildup blocking them. Proper hydration is a mirage.
What is a chelating shampoo?
There’s no need to write a disseration on chelating as a hard water treatment for hair. The reason it works is simple:
Chelating attacks these mineral buildups and breaks them down, molecule by molecule. Previously insoluble agents become soluble, and not only are the minerals gone….The shampoo itself also rinses off without any issue!
Chelating shampoos are actually the best for hard water and colored hair too.
They restore hair health after rather radical processes like harsh coloring.
By “radical processes” I also mean things like going to the swimming pool way too often: the chlorine found inside pools also acts like hard water minerals and harms your hair.
The 3 best hard water shampoos
1. Best shampoo kit for hard water areas:
Malibu treatment set
For me, this Malibu kit combines the best products for well water hair you can find. It has it all: not only a shampoo and conditioner (9 oz each), but also a concentrated treatment. You’ll receive four packets of the latter.
Some people are confused as they don’t know how they should use the packets. Personally, I advise you to use the shampoo first, then grab one, apply the treatment and leave it on for a few minutes.
Your hair needs to soak it up a little!
Remember, this shouldn’t be used as a daily shampoo against hard well water. Once per week seems fine, or maybe twice, but don’t overdo it.
Opinions may vary, but I also love how Malibu smells, not too aggressive. As a finishing touch, it’s also great for colored hair and will keep its shine aside from protecting it from hard water buildup.
2. Best chelating shampoo for hard water:
Hairprint natural chelating 8oz
99% plant-based and as organic as a shampoo can get, Hairprint offers a fantastic chelating option for those living in hard water areas.
It combines bark, seeds, leaves, oils, roots and other eco ingredients and throws out parabens or sulfates out of the window.
Unlike Malibu, you won’t find strong aroma here – the chelating shampoo is meant to be scent-free.
I prefer some whiff to my cosmetics, but it’s not a deal-breaker at all. In fact, a lot of people might love it just because of that.
Once again, don’t go overboard. You can wash your hair daily with this one, but I advise you to do some testing first. Start out with 2/3 times per week to see how your hair behaves when you use it.
to Also, for the price a 8 oz might be…a bit too small, but for the quality you’re getting, it’s worth it.
3. Best purifying shampoo for well water hair:
Ion hard water shampoo
Ion’s shampoo to use with hard water adds a stunning amount of both shine and moisture to your exhausted locks. Similar to Malibu, it should fare well with colored hair and help you keep its extravagance.
Unlike the other two, you can safely use this purifying + clarifying shampoo more often – even daily.
To me, soothing your locks with it 3 or 4 times per week should be a good dosage anyways.
Prepare for a non-itchy scalp, restored hair shine and the lightweight, hard water buildup-free feeling you’ve longed for.
Personal note: while it’s minimalistic, I also adore the simplicity of Ion shampoo’s bottle design. The price is also great!
4. Best hard soap for hard water:
Kirk’s original Coco
There’s only one soap I swear by and it’s this cute hardwater soap from Kirk’s. It works tremendously well for bathing/as a body soap and doesn’t leave any residue on your skin.
Seriously, showering with hard water becomes way less of a hassle with this little guy.
The Coco comes with a soothing amount of aloe vera that restores natural moisture, along with the soap getting rid of those well water minerals.
There are no typical “offenders” like laureth sulfate, parabens, EDTA or phthalates here, so twice the excitement!
What I can’t help but fall in love is the rich, creamy (almost tasty!) lather this hard water soap creates.
It tickles my skin with excitement to enter a shower session as I know no matter how much it lathers, I’ll be rinsing it off with ridiculous ease.
Frequently asked questions
Can I test how hard my water is?
Yes. There’s plenty of tests you can possibly conduct to assess your situation better. A video speaks more than thousand words, so here’s a popular way to gauge hard water:
Can you get dandruff from hard water?
Unfortunately, there’s a possibility, yes. Thing is, all the minerals and agents found en masse in hard water cause your scalp to get dry and itchy. Blame the calcium levels for that.
As you know, with dryness present, flaky skin tends to follow at one point. With dandruff kicking in, sometimes you might blame your cosmetics or shampoo…But in the end, there’s a high chance it’s well water itself.
How can I reduce water hardness?
There’s a lot of tricks in the book, but honestly, the easiest thing is to just grab a shower filter. It will soften well water to some extent, but don’t expect ultra miraculous results.
Here’s a good hard water softener that might help you out.
Any natural tips for washing hair in hard water?
If you want to go the natural way of softening hard water effects on your locks, there are two main things you can do.
The easiest is to grab a few lemons. Limes will do too, actually. Anyways, squeeze a little bit of lemon juice, mix it with water, and apply to your locks right after you’ve shampooed yourself.
Rinse everything off: a part of the mineral buildup should’ve dissolved. Apply your conditioner afterwards.
The smellier way is to do the whole apple cider vinegar thing with similar purposes.
But honestly, maybe just going for a special well water products will save you time and be better for your locks in the long run.
Bottom line: Greg wrote a thorough review on Every Man Jack men’s body wash. It seems like a skin-friendly product that should work in hard water areas too.
My daily Nature’s Gate shampoo is actually pretty good for bald men too, given Greg keeps his head to a stubble. He explains here why the Jojoba Oil one might be even better.
As for me, caring about your skin is as important as paying attention to your hair. Here’s a list I compiled with some natural hand soap brands we’re satisfied with!