You’re using the best products for your skin and hair, but somehow it feels like you’ve always got a filmy residue after you rinse your face or wash out your conditioner. In certain parts of the United States, hard water may be to blame. The idea of water being ‘hard’ may sound strange, but it’s real. Water hardness is determined by the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. The Upper Plains and The Rocky Mountain region have the hardest water. In places like that, surfactants in soap react with the hard water and leave a film of residue on skin and hair as well as shower tiles and plumbing.
Hard water has been associated with the development of atopic dermatitis (itchy, irritated skin). For those with persistent eczema or itching, hard water should be considered a culprit.
The calcium in hard water can also disrupt the important barrier function of the skin.
Other less well-defined effects on the skin include clogged pores and acne. Even more serious, calcium and magnesium left on the skin can form free radicals, which, over time can break down collagen and elastin. This may lead to premature aging.
Water softeners can help and are used by many consumers. Another idea is to stick with skin and hair care products that are surfactant free such as KenetMD m-Power Wash.
For those us blessed with not too soft and not too hard water (New York really does have great water thanks to the Marcellus Shale http://geology.com/articles/marcellus-shale.shtml) a whisper of gratitude that we can rinse clean and leave nothing but fresh skin and hair behind.