Water is rated as hard or soft depending on its mineral content. When you are traveling, even if it is to regions where water is completely safe to drink, you may find the water is harder than it is at home (or softer). In Egypt, for example, the water is treated with chlorine, which is rough on colored hair.
If you live in a hard water area, or if you’re going to be staying abroad for a long time in one place, you can install a whole house water softener so you can have softer water to wash, bathe, drink, and cook with.
However, if you don’t have any control over the hardness of the water you’re using while staying in a hotel or other short term accommodation, then you need to be aware of why the hard water can be bad for your hair and skin so you can choose the right products to use to combat it.
What Makes Hard Water Hard?
Hard water is water that contains higher levels of magnesium and calcium. It is just as safe to drink as soft water, because your body actually needs those minerals, but it can taste different, and more importantly, the mineral content can lead to deposits you will notice when cooking and cleaning.
These deposits can reduce the life of appliances like washing machines and kettles, which is why having a whole house filter is a good investment if it’s your own home, but while you are traveling, your biggest issue with hard water is that the minerals make it harder for you to lather up soaps and shampoos, and can also cause issues with your skin and hair.
What Problems Does Hard Water Cause or Exacerbate in Skin?
Hard water is known to exacerbate conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and the small traces of minerals left on your skin when you wash with hard water can also lead to pimples and blocked pores.
The poor reaction of harder water with soap also means it is harder to get a good lather with cleansers or shower gels, so you end up using more product which can also leave a residue on your skin.
How About Hair?
All of the effects of hard water on skin also happen to your scalp, and can cause itchy, flaky skin issues. The problems with getting a good shampoo later can also make it harder to remove oil from the hair, and residual minerals can also weigh down hair and rough up the cuticles, leaving it looking flat and dull. This can mostly be mitigated by using a good purifying shampoo designed for this type of water.
By choosing the right cleansing products designed for hard water, and taking short, tepid showers rather than long hot ones, you can reduce the effects of hard water on your hair and skin while you’re in a hard water area.
Make sure to give extra care to your scalp, and consider using cleansing wipes to remove makeup rather than a cleaner you lather up with water.