SKIN AND HAIR CARE FOR HARD WATER IMPACT
Showers and baths are associated with cleansing, conditioning, and reviving the skin and the hair. However, not all tap water is created equal. Many regions happen to have hard water that, on the surface, does not seem to be any different from soft water. It may be months after washing with unfiltered hard water that you might notice that your skin is dull, dry, and irritated. Meanwhile, your hair may be brittle, lackluster, and prone to breakage, and your scalp raw with buildup. With hard water, your tried-and-true skin care and hair care routine becomes ineffective. Fortunately, there are a plethora of natural ingredients that can alleviate the harsh effects of hard water and bring your skin and hair back to life!
WHAT IS HARD WATER? AND HOW DOES IT IMPACT SKIN AND HAIR?
Hard water refers to tap water that is naturally higher in minerals such as Calcium and Magnesium since it flows through limestone and chalk. While this type of water is not harmful to your health and is safe to drink, hard water can cause a major disruption in hair health and skin health through prolonged exposure. If you notice white buildup or stubborn soap scum around your shower head or faucets, that is a common sign of hard water. Other ways to detect hard water is have a professional test your water or test it yourself using hard water test strips.
The high mineral content does not allow the water to break down soap properly, meaning soaps do not form a proper lather when exposed to hard water. As a result, the soap residue stays on the skin, which dries out the skin at a faster rate. When hard water encounters the skin, the minerals absorb the skin's natural oils and moisture, causing significant dryness and irritation. Since the skin's pH level and natural oil levels are disrupted, breakouts can also occur, along with rashes, large pores, itching, and exacerbation of skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.
Like the skin on the body, the scalp is also prone to buildup and dryness when exposed to hard water. The minerals create a barrier on the scalp, preventing moisturizers from conditioners, hair oils, and creams from absorbing into the hair. The effectiveness of your shampoos and conditioners are reduced since hard water minerals react with the ingredients in these formulations and causes buildup. Overtime, the scalp can feel dry, raw, and irritated, causing the hard water to wreak havoc on your strands. You may notice that your hair feels straw like, brittle, thinning, and easily breakable. Hard water can disrupt all hair types, but is especially harsh on thin hair, which is already prone to build up, and curly/coily hair types that are naturally dry.
THE BEST NATURAL INGREDIENTS TO PROTECT THE SKIN AND THE HAIR FROM HARD WATER
1) Hibiscus Carrier Oil
Hibiscus Carrier Oil can help replenish the strength and elasticity of hair that has been damaged by hard water. It is rich in amino acids that can stimulate keratin production in the hair and restrengthen the hair shaft. When applied to the scalp, the vitamins and antioxidants in Hibiscus Carrier Oil can encourage sebum production, restoring moisture and shine in the scalp and the strands. When applied topically, the flavonoids, carotenoids, and tannins of this oil create a protective barrier on the skin and the hair that can ward off the harsh effects of minerals such as Calcium and Magnesium. Hibiscus Oil also possesses Omega-6 Linoleic Acid, which replenish extra dry skin and help it maintain moisture.
2) Neem Carrier Oil
A reputed natural antibacterial and antifungal, Neem Carrier Oil provides effective cleansing properties when applied to the scalp. Applying Neem Oil to the scalp can help remove the mineral build-up that is a result of hard water exposure. Rich in Essential Fatty Acids and Antioxidants including Vitamin E, Neem is equally beneficial for application on the skin after exposure to hard water because it can help restore the skin's barrier. Neem can also be used for treating dryness due to maturing skin, stimulate collage production, and help treat areas troubled by acne.
3) Ashwagandha Liquid Extract
This adaptogen is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, making Ashwagandha a staple in Ayurvedic medicine that is still popular in natural beauty today. In skincare, Ashwagandha's propanediol content is makes it gentle enough for use on sensitive skin, locking in moisture without triggering inflammatory conditions such as eczema. Ashwagandha Liquid Extract is especially effective for use in a scalp massage because it stimulates the hair follicles, encourages blood circulation, and helps reduce dandruff. For dry scalp and flat hair due to hard water, Ashwagandha is exceptional for restoring moisture and volume back into the hair.
4) Aloe Vera Gel
Commonly used in sunburn and after sun care, this cooling moisturizer can repair damage caused by hard water minerals and helps to restore the skin's protective barrier. Rich in Vitamins A, C and E, Aloe Vera Gel is a penetrating emollient that does not leave a 'tacky' residue, so it will not contribute to the buildup your skin may be experiencing from the abundance of minerals. Aloe Vera can be applied alone or blended with Coconut Carrier Oil, Olive Oil, or Jojoba Carrier Oil to create a luxurious body serum. Aloe Vera's hydrating, exfoliating, and nourishing properties can also replenish dry, irritated scalp and stimulates balanced oil production.
5) Apple Cider Vinegar Powder
Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural tonic that has become a beloved raw material in the beauty industry. Possessing a unique profile of Vitamins, Acetic Acid, Folic Acid, Malic Acid, and Biotin, it loosens and removes impurities to rebalance the skin and the scalp's pH level. As a powdered botanical, Apple Cider Vinegar is even more versatile and can be applied in a variety of ways to restore the moisture, bounce, elasticity and shine that hard water can tarnish. Due to its grainy texture, the powder can be made into a gentle scrub that sloughs dead skin cells off the body and the scalp to reveal glowing skin and shiny hair.
6) Coconut Carrier Oil
Coconut Carrier Oil is a rich emollient that can help ward off hard water's drying effects while maintaining the integrity of the skin and the hair. With its unique Essential Fatty Acid Profile, Coconut Oil acts as an effective moisturizer that is ideal for application on the skin to immediately replenish it after exposure to hard water. Capric and Caprylic Acids are responsible for this oil's quick absorption rate into the deeper layers of the skin, while Linoleic Acids are believed to moisturize the hair and promote healthy hair growth. Coconut Oil's Oleic Acids makes this Carrier Oil excellent for hair that feels dry and brittle from mineral build-up. Coconut Oil can be used at room temperature or slightly heated up, on its own or blended with your regular conditioner for extra hydration.
7) Argan Carrier Oil
Moisturizing, soothing, and healing, Argan Oil is abundant in Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, and Linolenic Acid that help the skin and the hair retain moisture, making this oil especially effective for application right after a shower. For skin that is troubled by inflammation, Argan Oil is gentle and can soothe skin conditions that may have been exacerbated by hard water exposure. For hair that is weighed down by mineral buildup, Argan Oil can alleviate dry scalp and create a healthy foundation for optimal hair growth.
Another product to consider is the Camellia Carrier Oil, which protects the skin and hair aginst the abuse of external environmental elements.
HOW TO TREAT DRY HAIR AND SKIN WITH NATURAL INGREDIENTS
The Carrier Oils, Raw Materials, and Powders listed above are versatile and can be customized to suit your hair care and skin care needs. Argan and Coconut Carrier Oils can be applied directly to the skin alone or blended with your choice of lotion to seal in moisture. For extra hydration, apply your choice of Coconut or Argan Oil right after a shower, when skin is still slightly damp. Due to its high concentration of Vitamin E, Neem Carrier Oil makes an effective body or hair serum to target dryness and dullness. Neem can also promote an environment for healthy hair growth when applied to the scalp directly.
Hibiscus Carrier Oil possesses a naturally gentle form of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that are water-soluble and can encourage new skin cell turnover to reveal an even complexion. The abundance of flavonoids and amino acids in Hibiscus Oil is also believed to contribute to smoothing and conditioning hair while potentially reducing the amount of hair loss caused by hard water exposure. To revitalize and protect hair with Hibiscus Carrier Oil, mix 2-3 drops with 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil and 50 ml of another Carrier oil of your choice. Apply the mixture to your scalp and hair and let it sit for up to 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water. For an even richer conditioning treatment, Hibiscus Oil and Aloe Vera Gel enhance one another's soothing and hydrating properties when blended. Simply add 2-3 drops of Hibiscus Oil to 100 ml of Aloe Vera Gel and 50 ml of an emolliating Carrier Oil (Argan Oil would work beautifully here). Stir the ingredients together until they form a paste. Apply the mixture to scalp and strands of hair. Leave it on for up to 45 minutes and rinse with warm water. This conditioning treatment is suitable for use 1-2 times per week.
The acidity of Apple Cider Vinegar effectively breaks through mineral build-up on the skin and the hair. To take advantage of the ever-popular ACV Rinse, mix 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar Powder with 4 parts water. After shampooing your hair, carefully pour the liquid from the roots to the ends. Leave it on for five minutes and rinse with cool water. Follow up with your regular conditioner. A maximum of once per week is recommended for using the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse due to its acidity.
Apple Cider Vinegar Powder's astringent properties also makes it an effective toner that rebalances the skin's microbiome. Mix one part Apple Cider Vinegar Powder evenly into 4 parts water, making sure clumps are dissolved. Apply the tonic all over the face to soothe and exfoliate the skin. Follow with layering a hydrating serum and face lotion to restore moisture.
OTHER WAYS TO REDUCE HARD WATER EXPOSURE
1) Consider installing a water softener or a shower filter
If it is financially plausible for you, the best thing to do is to tackle the hard water problem at the source. For homeowners, installing a water softener will significantly reduce the amount of minerals of every water dispenser in the home. However, if you are renting or are looking for a more economical option, a shower filter is an effective alternative.
2) Shower in cooler temperatures
Hard water is already drying on its own, so hot showers are not recommended because they can dry out your skin and hair even further. Cooler water temperatures are ideal, and the water should be no warmer than lukewarm.
3) Opt for soap-free cleansers
As discussed, soap does not properly break down in hard water, leaving a residue that is ultimately drying to the skin. Instead, consider switching to cream- or oil- based cleansers that are less drying and more restorative.
4) Rehydrate and rebalance right away
Moisture is a non-negotiable when living and bathing with hard water. The moments after stepping out of the shower are prime for applying Carrier Oils, lotions, or creams to ensure your skin does not lose any more moisture.
5) For sensitive skin types, use fragrance-free cleansers and lotions
Fragrances can be a trigger for sensitive skin and inflammatory conditions such as eczema. To prevent irritation, stick to cleansers and formulations with no added fragrances.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR NATURAL INGREDIENTS
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, these natural ingredients are for external use only. They should not be ingested and should not be stored within the reach of children, in case of accidental ingestion. As with essential and carrier oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm or another generally insensitive area of skin, using a dime-size amount of the specified oil to check for sensitivities. An absence of an allergic response within 48 hours suggests that the oil is safe to use.
The topical application of most carrier oils is generally known to be safe with responsible use, but irritations, allergies, rashes, and other side effects are possible. In the chance of an allergic reaction, discontinue the use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
Essential or carrier oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.
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