Does hard water cause hair loss? This question appears quite frequently further adding to the rap sheet attributed to hard water. Whilst hard water has plenty of problems it can be blamed for, is hair loss actually one of them? We’ll take a look at the prevailing thoughts on the subject. Do they actually match up with the science?
What is the common knowledge?
A quick google search will bring up reams of articles all claiming that hair loss can be attributed to hard water. The prevailing theory seems to be that the minerals in the water both damage the hair itself, thinning and breaking it. They may also clog the pores preventing new growth and damaging the roots of the hair. Furthermore it is suggested that due to the way hard water interacts with soap that remaining surfactants in the hair exacerbate the problem. These ideas are not baseless, studies on skin have shown the negative effects of hard water. The problem is that you will be hard pressed to find any sources for these claims. So is there any truth to them?
What does the science say?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the research on the subject is minimal. There are even fewer studies on this subject than there are on the hard water effects on skin. What little research has been done is contradictory. One study claims that hard water doesn’t even damage hair let alone cause hair loss, this study does have some issues with it’s methodology however. Others suggests a clear link between hard water and loss of strength in hair due to damage, which certainly supports the claim that hard water damages the hair itself, but there are no conclusions about its effect on the loss of hair.
Until there is solid research on this topic we can’t say for certain what the effects of hard water are on the process of hair loss. The general medical consensus seems to be that the myriad of other factors are the main issues to be addressed. Going for an expensive solution purely to prevent loss of hair without any strong links to back it up is liable to leave you disappointed.
So what is the take away from this? Be wary of businesses which make bold claims about the links between hard water and hair loss. Especially if they’re trying to scare you into picking their particular solution to the problem. If you’re suffering from loss of your hair the most effective way of dealing with the issue will be to consult a medical professional rather than to buy a softener or a conditioner. If you want to treat your water do so for the myriad of other good reasons, such as saving you energy or making your cleaning easier!