White rims on the bathroom tiles and encrusted residues in the kettle make visible what we normally do not perceive with the naked eye: Our tap water is full of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. When these substances combine with each other, lime is formed. Colloquially, we speak of “hard” water. The higher the mineral concentration, the harder the water.
Is hard water unhealthy?
Magnesium and calcium are vital minerals for the body. In this respect, a certain mineral content in water is definitely positive. Among other things, this gives tap water the quality of healthy drinking water – not every country has such a luxury. But that is only one side of the coin. What is good for the body on the inside is not always good for it on the outside.
How does hard water affect the skin?
Similar to the tiles, hard water leaves a fine mineral film on the body. This is not visible, but it can be felt. Hard water removes oil from the skin, has a drying effect and is therefore irritating. Redness, a feeling of tension after showering or itching may occur. In rare cases, the dryness even causes tiny micro-cracks in the skin, in which germs and bacteria can settle. Eczema formation and dandruff are possible consequences. It has been proven that there are more cases of neurodermatitis in regions with very hard water than in regions with calcium-poor water. Blackheads can also be due to lime. If mineral residues settle in the pores, they can become clogged and pimples develop.
Hair suffers from too much lime
Mineral residues do not stop at the hair, of course. We know this effect from vacation. Who has not thought elsewhere that his hair somehow feels different, can be combed and styled differently? Probably the water here had a different degree of hardness. The more lime it contains, the less shiny the hair is. At the same time, it feels grippier and rougher, which in turn can be an advantage when styling. The hairstyle holds much better. The scalp, on the other hand, suffers. Hard water has a drying effect and can also lead to dandruff on the head.
How do I know if my water is hard?
You can find out whether the water in your home is soft or hard by using a test strip (available at pharmacies, for example). But there is also information online (e.g. on the homepage of your city or region). The natural hardness of groundwater varies from region to region. Many online services know the values of your locality and have listed them in tabular form. What can also help in the analysis is a simple shampoo test. Take a blob of shampoo in your hand, add some water and try to lather it up with your palms. The less foam you get, the harder the water is.
Help with hard water
A home remedy that helps counteract the effects of hard water is an acid rinse. This involves mixing normal tap water with (apple) vinegar or citric acid. One tablespoon of vinegar to one liter of water should usually be enough. However, you can easily vary the amount of acid according to your needs. Wash your hair normally with shampoo and finish the wash with the rinse. This is not rinsed out. Do not worry: the smell of vinegar will disappear in a few minutes.
Care tips: Beautiful skin despite hard water
The best purchase for hard water is a special lime filter attachment, which is screwed onto the faucet and sieves out disturbing minerals. The water immediately becomes softer and more digestible for skin and hair. Otherwise, the rule is: shower as little and as briefly as possible. In addition, the water temperature should not be too high. The hotter the water, the more it dries out skin and hair. Regular peelings protect against clogging skin deposits. It should also help to apply body lotion and face cream to the still damp skin. This is to allow the fat content of the cream to be absorbed into the skin before mineral residues build up. Modern micellar cleansers, which work completely without water, can also be a good solution.
And of course: the good old washcloth. This can also be used to clean the face and body without the skin coming into contact with large amounts of water. After all, a lot does not always help. Especially not with hard water!