We often hear myths about how washing your hair excessively can make it dry and brittle. On the contrary, we also know for sure that under washing hair can make hair oily, greasy and grimy. While it is true that overwashing some hair types can be damaging, it is not a blanket rule that applies to all people with all hair types. Just like skin types, scalps can range from dry to excessively oily, and the frequency at which you should wash your scalp is dictated by how much sebum or natural oil your scalp produces.
However, what we know for sure is that effluents, pollutants and calcium carbonate that is present in most urban water supply systems cause long-term damage to hair and the scalp. Anyone who has shifted cities would have noticed a sudden shift in the texture and volume of their hair. This is because the water available in different regions has different properties.
You might have noticed how nice your hair seems after a trip to the mountains. While we can connect the dots and assume that it is because of having access to clean spring water, let’s take a closer look at the different kinds of water that we encounter in India.
We have access to soft water since the water purifiers we use in our homes are engineered to turn hard water soft. Washing your hair with drinking water or purified water will have no negative impact on your hail, follicles or scalp – unless you excessively shampoo your hair until the natural oils are stripped away. Still, that would not be because of the water.
The water that we receive through water supply in most parts of India is hard water. What makes water ‘hard’? Hard water is called so because of the high amounts of dissolved calcium and minerals, particularly compounds of calcium and magnesium. Hard water can leave deposits on your hair that causes it to dry out and cause damage in the long term.
If you have a penchant for swimming in the ocean, please remember that sea and ocean water contains extremely high levels of various salts that make your hair extremely brittle and prone to damage.
While it might be easy to imagine rainwater as the purest form of naturally available water, it usually dissolves and carries down atmospheric pollutants, making it unfit for washing your hair.
Another one for the swimmers – you might be aware that chlorine is added to water for its disinfectant qualities. However, the repeated use of chlorine on hair can damage hair follicles and make them weak, dry, porous and prone to breakage. Higher levels of chlorine are also known to cause discolouration of hair due to bleaching.
Groundwater, being sourced from wells and borewells contains a high concentration of minerals and salts. When used over time, groundwater can cause your hair to become thin and brittle, as the salts present in the water get absorbed by your follicles and scalp.
By now you should know how water from different sources can affect your hair. While washing our hair is unavoidable, it’s important that we take measures to protect our hair before doing so. Watch this space for more, as we explore the different ways in which you can protect your hair and scalp before a wash.