I moved to a new house last year that had well water, I thought nothing of it except that it was uncommon in my area. Fast forward about 6 months, my hair was looking dull, greasy and a little orange. I did not understand what was going on! It was oily and dry and breaking. I have always had “good” hair, never any previous issues. I always followed the same routine using all 5 shampoos from Morrocco Method and styling as usual. What was the difference!?
A couple of months ago I went on a trip and showered and my hair was instantly shinier. Then Light bulb clicked on and I realized my hair was suffering from hard water abuse, basically I needed a water filter and I needed one fast.
Two months later my hair is shiny, soft and thicker than ever. It also stopped discoloring. I decided to do a little research because I always like to back up my theories with science.
What is hard water and how does it affect your hair? Hard water interferes with almost every cleaning task from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses may be spotted when dry. Hard water may cause a film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, etc. Hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. Water flow may be reduced by deposits in pipes.
Unfiltered shower water can contain an array of chemicals like chlorine (which we try to avoid whenever possible) as well as bacteria and fungus from the shower head.
The skin is much more than just a covering for the body. It is the largest organ and is responsible for important functions like vitamin d creation and synthesis. It also has the ability to absorb much of what it comes in contact with and we are learning that it has its own unique and important microbiome!
This is why a shower filter is so vital:
Chlorine is effective at killing pathogens in the water, but the properties that make it able to do this may affect the skin microbiome and the delicate balance of bacteria on the skin.
These are some of the biggest risks associated with the chemicals in shower water:
- We May Absorb More Chlorine Through Showering than Through Drinking Water
It may seem counterintuitive, but showering in chlorinated water can lead to more chlorine absorption than drinking chlorinated water. This is because we typically shower at warm temperatures, which makes absorption easier and because this water is coming in contact with such a large area of the body. In fact, research shows that the chlorine in shower (or bath) water can easily enter the bloodstream as it has a low molecular weight and can easily pass into the body.
Chlorine can also interact with other matter in the water to form harmful byproducts like trihalomethanes (THMs). One of these trihalomethanes is chloroform, which I’m familiar with from my childhood days of reading Nancy Drew mysteries, as it was often used by criminals to cause victims to pass out. Thankfully, it isn’t found in high enough amounts in shower water to cause that severe of a problem.
Chemicals absorbed through the skin can enter the blood stream quickly and have a tremendous impact on the body. This is great when it comes to things like topical magnesium that we want to enter the body quickly and in large enough amounts, but not so good when it comes to harmful disinfectant byproducts. This study even showed a greater lifetime risk of cancer and other problems from bathing or showering in chlorinated water than from drinking it.
- Shower Water Releases Chemicals into the Air in the Home
There are some obvious offenders of indoor air-pollution:
The heat of shower water can cause chemicals to vaporize and be released into the air at higher amounts than they are even present in the water itself. The EPA found significant and detectable levels of THMs and other byproducts in indoor air as a result of bath and shower water.
- Chemicals in Shower Water may Cause Harm to the Skin Microbiome & Irritate Skin
As I already mentioned, the microbiome isn’t limited to the gut. While the importance of beneficial bacteria in the gut is becoming much more well known, there are lesser known “biomes” on the body, including the mouth and skin.
Logically, showering in a disinfecting agent like chlorine that is chemically tested to reduce bacteria in the water may have a tremendous impact on the skin biome. Many of the effects to the beneficial bacteria are not visible and many people don’t seem to have any noticeable affects, though some experience dry skin, eczema or irritation.
So get a filter! They are cheap, easy to install and will basically change your hair life!