How Hard Water Can Affect Your Skin
Hard water. You’ve probably heard about it before or it may even be flowing through the pipes wherever you are right now. Caused by a buildup of metals—including calcium and magnesium—hard water not only affects many regions around the United States and beyond, it also affects your skin. Wonder how? Keep reading.
The Basics (Literally)
The major difference between hard water and regular old H2O, comes down to pH—that’s potential hydrogen for those of us who need a quick chem class refresher. The pH scale ranges from a 0—the most acidic of substances—to a 14—the most alkaline, or basic. Our skin has an optimal pH of 5.5—just slightly acidic to ensure our acid mantle is functioning properly (read: maintaining moisture and not breaking out). Hard water falls on the alkaline side of the scale, with a pH level above 8.5. So, what does this mean for your skin? Well, since the skin’s pH balance should lean to the ever-so-slightly acidic side, overly-alkaline, hard water can dry it out.
The Skin Care “C” Word
Along with a basic pH and a buildup of metal, another substance often found in hard water—and sometimes just regular water running from a non-alkaline tap—is chlorine. Yes, you read that right. The same chemical we put in our pools is often added to water as a way to ward off bacteria. The Water Research Center shares that there are several other methods used to kill disease-causing microorganisms, but chlorination is the method that is most common. Pair the drying effects of hard water with the equally drying effects of chlorine, and your shower or nightly face cleanse could be wreaking havoc on your skin.
What Can You Do About Hard Water?
Before you reach for the pH strips—or worse, the For Sale signs—know that there are steps you can take to neutralize things. According to The United States Department of Agriculture, vitamin C can help neutralize chlorinated water, which may make tap water less harsh on your skin. For a quick fix, you may want to look into purchasing a shower filter that contains vitamin C—or, you can install a vitamin C shower head. Not big on plumbing? You can also reach for cleansers and other skin care products that feature a slightly acidic pH, closer to that of your own skin!