Updated: Feb 11
Regardless if you are using a natural shampoo bar or conventional shampoo, your hair is affected by the water you wash it In. This effect can be quite drastic if you are living in a hard water area. I can get all technical, but let’s leave that for another day.
Today we are having a brief overview of the effects of hard water on your hair, especially if you are using a natural shampoo bar, and what you can do about it. By making small changes to your hair care routine, you can have very rewarding results .
In the UK there are a lot of areas where the tap water is hard. The higher the calcium and magnesium content of the water, the harder it is. All these minerals in the water have a positive charge. On the contrary, your hair tends to have a negative charge along cuticle edges and in damaged areas. Now you can do the maths; these positives and negatives attract each other and as a result, these minerals bind itself to your hair.
Let’s look at what causes damaged hair; careless brushing, heat styling, sunlight, chlorine, permanent colour, highlights, wrong pH.
The more damaged the hair, the more negatively its charge. You now have a vicious cycle where hair gets increasingly worn down and you have to put more products in to try and counteract it.
The all-important pH
In addition to its high mineral content, harder water is also more alkaline. Alkaline is where the pH scale tips above neutral 7. As the pH increases, the hair shafts swell and the cuticles rise. It has a similar effect on the hair shaft of a pine comb that has opened up.
It leaves your hair exposed and unprotected, this is where your hair loses its shine, the ends might split and it becomes knotty. This is now damaged hair, it increases the positive charge and as the pH of your water goes up, so does the number of minerals that will bind to your hair.
In addition to the mineral deposits and the day to day hair damage, your hair products have also caused a build-up. It’s inevitable because negatively charged surfactant in shampoo and soap bind to calcium and magnesium ions from hard water.
With commercial shampoos, you also have the addition of silicone and sulphate deposits.
It's not a pretty picture, but there is a very simple solution.
Removing build-up on hair
An acid rinse dissolves the calcium, magnesium, anionic and soap surfactant deposits. It also neutralises the negative charges, so that the hair strands contract. As your cuticles smooths, your hair loses its dullness and is much shinier and sleeker. It also makes the hair less susceptible to damage. It would be as if you used a deep conditioning treatment, without the heaviness.
It almost puts everything in reverse; however, it does not remove silicone build-up. Most conventional hair products contain silicone and can only be removed with clay. If you feel that you need a bit of extra help, you can use our Clay Day as a hair mask It is very effective in detoxifying your hair and will remove all silicone, soap residue and other build-ups.
It is a very good start to a natural shampoo bar journey and I would highly recommend detoxing your hair first (it only takes 30 mins!)
Our Hair Hero and Fresh Tresses natural shampoo bars already contain Rhassoul clay and this should be enough.
Understanding when to use an acid rinse
If you live in a soft water area and your hair is neither chemically treated nor particularly damaged, and you use one of our shampoo bars that contain Rhassoul, you may not need an acid rinse regularly.
Our Hair Hero and Fresh Tresses natural shampoo bars already contain Rhassoul clay and this should be enough. Rhassoul has a strong negative charge and therefore bind positively charged ions like calcium and magnesium. You can rinse your hair once or twice a month just to make sure there is no build-up, you will feel when your hair needs it.
If the water is hard, or your hair is damaged, you would definitely benefit from an acid rinse on a regular basis.
pH is also corrected through an acid rinse
Your hair shaft has a pH of about 3.67; for healthy hair, it is best to stay between a pH of 4.5 to 6. Only when the pH drops below 6, the hair shaft starts to tighten. Anything closer to pH 7 lifts the cuticles and exposes the hair shaft. Remember; acid tightens and alkali lifts.
The water quality regulations specify that the pH of UK tap water should be between 6.5 and 9.5. It leaves the treatment works typically with a pH between 7 and 8, but this can change as it passes through the network of reservoirs and water mains.
To close the cuticles of your hair, you need to reduce the pH of your rinse water with acid for smoothness, shine and lustre.
Using an acid rinse
Too much acid can lead to breakage and damaged hair. A safe pH range for your rinse would be 4 to 4.5.
pHabsolute Clarity is a ready-made powder acid rinse with rice protein and natural silicone.
You only need 1 ml in 1 - 2 litres of water to leave your hair silky soft.
This powdered acid rinse does not leave an odour, is easy to mix and light to travel with. With a minimum of 80 rinses in a tin.
If you want to make an acid rinse yourself, you can achieve this with the following ingredients:
For apple cider vinegar, use 1-2 teaspoons vinegar in 1 cup of water.
For white vinegar, use ½ -1 teaspoon vinegar in 1 cup of water.
Wash your hair like normal, and use your mixture as a final rinse after you’ve shampooed your hair. It is up to you if want to leave it in your hair or wash it out. The smell will pass when it is dry!
If you want the added benefits of a herbal rinse, steep one tea bag in boiling water and add this to your pHabsolute Clarity or vinegar once it is cooled down. Tea rinses are great for your scalp and hair.
- Adds highlights to blonde hair and a sheen to dark hair.
- It has excellent conditioning properties for your hair and scalp.
- Can be used by all hair types
- Gives your hair dark highlights
- It is good for greying hair
- Helps with hair that sheds easily
- This is a great rinse for any hair type, including damaged hair and people with dandruff or psoriasis. The antioxidants will relieve a dry scalp
- Green tea can stimulate hair growth.
- It helps to contract the hair cuticles, smoothing it and adding shine
- It is also great at reduces dandruff and controlling the oil balance.
- Redbush promotes hair growth
- It is a great rinse for refreshing dull or dry red hair, as it might just leave a slight reddish tint.
Reaping the benefits of an acid rinse
• With its naturally low pH, it is a very gentle acid
• It gives your scalp a deep clean and helps remove the build-up of styling products and conditioners.
• It helps restore the natural pH level of the scalp and its delicate acid mantle.
• It is highly anti-inflammatory and can help with dandruff, hair loss and reduces itchiness on your scalp
• It locks in intense colours because it shuts the cuticle down and prevents colour bleed.
• It gives more body, shine, and softness
• It balances the oil production on your scalp