Before moving to London, I never thought much about the water in my tap. It was just water, and water was the same everywhere, right?? Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Have you ever visited London and felt like you couldn’t shake the bad hair days, no matter how well you washed your hair? Because that was me, and I always blamed it on the hotel shampoo and conditioner. My hair would be dry, tangly, and yet somehow greasy at the same time. I have long and thick hair, so I just assumed that the hotel amenities weren’t cutting it for me. As soon as I returned home to New York and washed my hair with my Moroccan Oil products, everything returned to normal. What I didn’t realize was that it had nothing to do with the shampoo at all.
The culprit was in the water. London water is known to be some of the hardest water in the world – hard water is classified as water with high levels of naturally occurring calcium and magnesium. It’s caused by water that passes through underground areas with chalk and limestone geology, which is exactly where London water travels through to get to us. While there are no direct health issues related to hard water itself, there are loads of annoying, unwanted side effects that come along with it. It can cause breakouts, dry skin, eczema, and wreak havoc on your hair.
Because of the limescale build up, hard water causes your hair to dry out, and it also makes it unable to fully rinse out shampoo and conditioner the way that soft water does – that’s why I was experiencing both dry ends and greasy roots at the same time. Yuck! Being 100% honest with you guys, this upset me way more than it should have when we first moved here. I’m SO attached my hair, you can call it my adult security blanket. So when it wasn’t looking the way it normally does, I sort of freaked out a little. I did TONS of research online on how to save my hair under these conditions, but I came up with nearly nothing of use. So after almost 2 months of my own trial and error, I’ve finally found the best ways to keep my hair looking healthy. Hopefully you can find some of these tips helpful if you find yourself in a place with hard water!
- Invest in a water softener / shower filter. This is of course the most effective method in protecting your hair against hard water. A water softener can be installed in your plumbing right at the source of your water, so everything from your shower to your laundry will see the difference. However, this can be quite costly, and if you rent, it may not be an option for you. In this case, I can’t recommend getting a shower filter enough. I purchased this one from Amazon for under £25. I noticed the difference immediately! You can honestly feel all of the shampoo buildup finally being rinsed out of your hair. They say to replace the filter every 3 months, so be mindful of when you install it so you are never scrambling to order your replacement. While I was pleased with the outcome from the shower filter, I still wanted softer water across the whole apartment. After speaking with our landlords about the issue (they are awesome!!), they agreed to install this water softener at the source for us. It’s been 10 days since the installation and I am SO happy with the results! If either of these options are available to you, I highly recommend installing one.
- Use a detoxifying shampoo. Once a week (I like to do this on Sundays) you should use a detoxifying shampoo to help remove any product buildup from the week. My favorite one is the Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo. I do two rounds of it and really focus on my scalp – it’s amazing how fresh my hair feels after this!
- Do a weekly hair mask. After I do the detoxifying shampoo, I like to follow it up with a moisturizing hair mask. My current favorite is this Kérastase mask. It smells heavenly and leaves my hair feeling luxuriously silky and soft. If you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly option, I’ve also used this hair mask and loved it.
- Experiment with hair oils and leave in conditioners. I’m a HUGE fan of hair oil, and have been for years now. I’ve religiously used Moroccan Oil after every shower since college. Because I have such thick hair, I don’t find that it leaves my hair greasy (as some of my friends with thin hair have told me it can do). I’ve found that it really helps keep my ends looking shiny and healthy, even with the change in water. I also like leave in conditioners, and since moving here I’ve found myself reaching for this Aveda Damage Remedy conditioner more often. It smells amazing and keeps your locks shiny and moisturized! I’ve also read that it’s great for fine hair, so if you’re worried about using hair oil you should definitely try out this leave in conditioner.
- Blow dry your hair. I know that this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true! A girlfriend who lives in London told me try this out, and it works wonders. A good blow dry helps to keep my hair smooth, shiny, and untangled. While I wouldn’t recommend doing it every night (I blow dry about 3 times a week), I do notice a difference in my hair when I blow dry vs air dry. It’s much softer when I take the time to blow it out.
- Wash your hair less often. In New York, I would wash my hair every single night. I will truly never understand when girls say that they hate washing their hair. I LOVE it – there’s nothing better than that fresh-out-the-shower-clean feeling. However, I do know that it’s better for your hair to cut down on the washing (even if you don’t live in a hard water area!). This has been hard for me, but I’ve cut down to washing every other day and I think it’s helped keep my hair from getting greasy from product buildup.
- Sleep on a silk pillowcase. This is another tip that applies to everyone, no matter the kind of water that you have. I switched to this silk pillowcase in January and will never EVER look back. In addition to keeping your hair smooth and breakage-free, it helps to prevent wrinkles and does wonders for your skin! At first Connor made fun of me for spending so much on a pillowcase, but now he wishes he had one too – I might have to get him one for Christmas 😉
If you follow these tips, I promise you that your hair will return to it’s pre-hard water self in no time!