When you get out of the shower, do you have dry, itchy, and irritated skin? Does this issue seem to get worse in the winter?
Do you struggle with skin conditions like eczema, acne, or clogged pores?
If you are using hard water in your home, it might be causing some of these issues.
What is hard water?
Hard water is simply water that has a high mineral content--specifically high levels of magnesium, calcium, and iron(1)(2).
How does water become hard, and how hard is my water?
Much of the water supply in the United States comes from rainwater that eventually becomes groundwater. Rainwater is naturally soft, but when it collects on the ground, it absorbs minerals from broken down rocks and chemicals from nearby agricultural waste. This process causes water to become hard and full of potentially harmful contaminants.
According to a Canadian water publication, “Water hardness in most groundwater is naturally occurring from weathering of limestone, sedimentary rock, and calcium bearing minerals. Hardness can also occur locally in groundwater from chemical and mining industry effluent or excessive application of lime to the soil in agricultural areas.”(2)
Water hardness levels vary throughout the United States. Below is water hardness map that was created by USGS(1):
Why does water hardness matter, and how does hard water affect skin?
The aforementioned minerals in hard water disrupt the effectiveness of soaps. The calcium in hard water chemically reacts with soap and causes soap scum to form(1). If you are using hard water in your home, you are probably familiar with soap scum accumulating on or near surfaces that use water like showers, coffee makers, washers, sinks, mirrors, and faucets.
However, you may not realize that hard water also can also cause soap scum to form on your skin(1). That’s right. Every time you bathe in hard water, soap scum may be forming on your skin because of the minerals in your water. Instead of a nice, soapy lather that makes you feel clean, you’re leaving behind a residue that clogs your pores in the same manner that it clogs pipes.
Using hard water also makes it so you have to use more soap to feel cleaner, which usually means that after you shower, your skin dries out. Overly dry skin and clogged pores are often common causes of acne and breakouts.
Hard water can also exacerbate symptoms of skin conditions like eczema. According to a study done in the U.K., children who live in areas with hard water are 50% more likely to suffer from eczema(3), and hard water is believed to be a factor in the development of eczema because the minerals in it damage skin’s protective barriers(4).
In addition to skin issues, hard water and soap scum can also cause frizzy, unmanageable, and greasy hair.
If you’re struggling with any of these issues, fear not. Soft water might be the solution.
How is soft water better for skin?
One of the largest benefits of using soft water in your home is that it is better at cleaning. Soft water doesn’t have high mineral contents; without high mineral levels, the soap you use is more effective at cleaning because it’s not being bound by calcium and creating soap scum.
When you shower with soft water, your soap will lather and completely rinse off without creating soap scum that will clog your pores. Your skin will also not dry out as much because you won’t need to use as much soap to feel clean.
When your pores aren’t clogged by soap scum, your natural oils will be free help your body produce a natural sheen and glow that cannot be achieved when hard water is used. Soft water’s reduced amount of calcium and magnesium prevent your skin’s protective barriers from being damaged. The common result is healthier, happier, and younger-looking skin.
Do you need a water softener?
Ultimately, many factors are involved in determining if you need a water softener. One of our specialized and WQA certified water professionals may be able to help. Click the button below to learn more.