With the summer holiday season upon us, I thought it might be worthwhile writing a piece on water. Whether you are headed to the beach or pool this summer you may want to know what the water there will do to your hair. Here are the 5 main types of water you may encounter during your holiday or at your home:
Seawater in itself, is not particularly bad for hair, despite the high level of salt. Splashing at the beach or even swimming in the ocean will generally not greatly affect hair. The main issue many naturals may experience is when seawater is not rinsed off and the salt dries onto the skin and scalp. The dried-on salt can then cause irritation as well as possibly dehydrate the hair by drawing water out.
Solution : Rinse your hair as soon as possible after being in ocean water. Adhere to this rule even if you may be wearing braid extensions and it is even more crucial if you have chosen to wear a weave or wig. A swim cap is always good for protecting hair from friction but it is not a substitute for rinsing hair.
2. Chlorinated water
Swimming regularly in chlorinated water is associated with hair damage both to the cuticle and cortex. This is generally linked to prolonged chlorine exposure in regular (3-5 times weekly) as opposed to infrequent swimmers. However, there are plenty of competitive swimmers who do have well maintained hair with little breakage. Therefore, while chlorine can damage hair, it is truly preventable
Solution: Use barriers such as a thick oil layer applied to hair prior to swimming and a swim cap to slow down and limit water uptake. Wash your hair after swimming to replace chlorinated water with regular tap water. You may also consider using bentonite clay every so often, as it is thought to be able to trap and filter ions.
3 .Tap water – hard water
You may be able to immediately know if your tap water is hard if you use natural soaps. Soap scum is common and it takes a lot of effort to create soap suds. The reason for this is that hard water contains a higher level of minerals specifically calcium and magnesium. Generally commercial shampoo will not pose a problem for washing hair in hard water but some naturals do still feel the difference.
Solution: A shower filter can remove the minerals in hard water and instantly transform it into soft water. Use a commercial shampoo and not a soap based cleanser if you cannot fit a filter.
4. Tap water – soft water
Soft water contains a low level of dissolved minerals and salts and will generally be the best water to use when cleansing or moisturizing your hair.
5. Bottled water
Some naturals who live in hard water areas may opt to perform a final rinse with bottled water. Bottled water does vary in mineral content. However, calcium and magnesium ions which are also present in hard water are also in bottled water. A shower filter is usually a better option but in the event that you cannot fit one, (rented apartment, hotel stay) a bottled water rinse is not a bad idea.