The Effects of Hard Water on Your Skin and Hair

Hard water is known for leaving mineral trails in its wake. From crusty faucets to stain rings around toilet bowls—wherever hard water goes, remnants stay behind long after the water has drained. You may already know that calcium and magnesium mineral stains are slowing down the efficiency of your home, but the effects of hard water can also show in your skin and hair.

A woman washing her hair in the shower.

The Effects of Hard Water on Skin

Warning signs of hard water include:

A man scratching his neck and chest

Dry and Itchy Skin

A woman in a towel

Stiff and Tight Skin

An elbow with red lines to denote irritation

Increased Sensitivity


Amplification of Existing Eczema or Psoriasis

Persistent dry skin and itchiness is a common symptom of hard water. Dry skin may be caused by high mineral content found in hard water, as these minerals strip your skin of natural oils that would otherwise keep your skin healthier and moisturized.

Hard water also prevents soap from lathering correctly and you will likely notice fewer suds in bathwater. This can lead to soap scum staying on your body even if you think it has been washed away. The soap scum can clog your pores, leaving your face susceptible to acne breakouts.

When your skin is dry, this can lead to skincare issues. It’s important to keep your skin moisturized, but if you use hard water your skin may dry out and feel tight. You’re also more likely to be left with bumps and razor burn due to hard water after shaving.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have reported hard water igniting the development of eczema—a skin condition that leaves a dry, red rash on the body. Similarly, those experiencing psoriasis could see an increase in irritability when they use hard water.

It’s not just your skin feeling the negative impact of hard water, it’s also your hair and scalp.

The Effects of Hard Water on Hair

You may notice hard water affecting your hair through:

Fading color

A person with short purple hair but no face.

Flat, dull and brassy hair

A woman with black hair and no face.

Increased dandruff

A man with black hair, mustache and beard. He has no eyes.

Dandruff is a fact of life for many people. But they often treat the problem by using special shampoo and conditioner products to keep the flakes to a minimum. What won’t help, however, is washing your hair with hard water. The same minerals irritating your skin are likely worsening dandruff on your scalp. Hard water can also cling to your scalp’s natural oils, leaving your scalp feeling greasy even if it’s just been washed.

The effects of hard water don’t end on the scalp. Hardness minerals can build up onto the hair, resulting in less lathering and less effective cleansing. You’ll need to use more product to get the same result, so you’ll go through shampoo and conditioning products more often. Hard water can also fade new hair color treatments quickly and has been known to flatten perms faster.

No matter what product is being used, hard water’s effects are hard to mask when it comes to making your hair shine and your scalp healthy. This means more trips to the salon and increased stress on your self-care budget.

Challenges Affecting Personal Hygiene & Your Bathroom Routine

Dull hair and itchy skin are only the beginning of the personal hygiene challenges related to hard water. The leftover minerals in your water could also create a difficult experience for you in your bathroom.

Everything from residue stains on your shower to the white crust around your sink’s faucet could be from hard water. Mineral buildup in your home’s plumbing from unsoftened water can also cause weak water pressure to your showers and faucets. Even your fading, scruffy towels can be caused by the washing machine using hard water.

How to Protect Your Skin & Hair From Hard Water

By now, you can understand the widespread effect hard water has on your skin and hair. Specialty lotions and new hair products may help minimize the effects of hard water on your skin and hair, but a water softener will eliminate the issue at the source. Water softeners remove the hardness minerals from your water before they reach your showerhead (and the rest of your home) so you can take control of your beauty routine.

Leave skincare and dandruff issues in the past. Experience softer, healthier skin and hair by installing a water softening system in your home.

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