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5 Best Shampoo for Hard Water: The Secret to Eliminate the Hair-Damaging Mineral Build-Up

Best Shampoo for Hard Water

Does your hair constantly look dull and gloomy? Does it feel dry or perhaps stiff? Or worse, gradually turning into weird shades of warm colors with every wash? If your answer is yes to most of these questions, there is a likelihood that you are washing your hair with hard water.

Hard water is an everyday reality for most people throughout the country. If your area is one of the regions affected by hard water problems, well tough luck. Blame your postcode for your “bad hair days” because your tap water contains mineral salts that have an adverse effect on hair.  Among these traces of minerals found in hard water are  the following:

 Sulfate: strips your hair of its natural oil, making it lackluster and dry

Copper: discolors hair, a nuisance to color-treated hair

Iron: alters hair texture and dries the scalp (insert flaky scalp, yikes!)

Silica: a.k.a the “shampoo barrier”; does not dissolve on hair and makes shampoo lathering almost impossible

Lead: gets in the way of heat styling tools and color treatment

Magnesium: takes away hair’s natural shine

Calcium: makes hair clumpy at the roots

Now, now do not fret. There is no need to change the address yet. Today’ we’ll assassinate these mineral culprits that stressing out your tresses. In this post, we rounded up the best shampoos you can try to counteract the effects of hard water on hair. In addition, we also list down the shampoo types alongside ingredients to look for when buying the best shampoo for hard water. Stick around till the end to know more about our top pick among the featured products.

The 5 Best Shampoo for Have Hard Water

The best hard water shampoo can be the difference between giving you a good lather to wash out any impurities, particularly the hair-ruining water deposits versus adding up to the build-up instead of purifying your hair. If you don’t want to settle for the latter, choose among our top picks for the best shampoo for hard water.

1. Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

Sulfate-free, Chelating Shampoo for All Hair Types

The most recommended shampoo by stylists, Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo, as suggested in its name, is formulated to address hair dilemmas related to waterborne deposits. The formula boasts of plant-based ingredients and skips the use of paraben, gluten, sulfate surfactants and colorants to naturally cleanse hair of mineral build-up without the harsh chemicals.

You might be wondering, without the sulfate as a surfactant, would it still be effective as a cleansing shampoo? Well, the answer is yes. Thanks to the provision of a multi-functional surfactant, the liquid creates a rich foamy lather that can also be massage to scalp to prevent dryness and irritation.

Apart from its cleansing properties,  an antioxidant in the presence of Panthenol functions to guard hair of the damaging effect of environmental pollutants. The inclusion of the superior flax plant protein adds up to the protective film layer, all while conditioning and moisturizing hair to alleviate possible dryness. Other plant extracts include allantoin and rice protein which work hand in hand to smoothen hair cuticle while improving elasticity to make hair more manageable. Bye-bye, bad hair days!

If you have a little tolerance to shampoos that smells like their chemical ingredients, you’ll like that this shampoo will leave your hair a refreshing blend of orange and vanilla. While you can buy the Malibu shampoo alone, there’s also a kit that comes with prepackaged conditioner and 4 hard water packet treatments.

Pros

  • Cleanses and protects hair against mineral deposits and everyday pollutants
  • Nourishes and conditions hair with natural ingredients
  • Noticeable smoothness, shine, and radiance
  • Less irritating to the scalp
  • No paraben, sulfate, and colorants; 100 percent vegan
  • Shampoo can be bought solo or together with the Hard Water Wellness Kit

Cons

  • Not the cheapest

2. Ion Hard Water Shampoo

Ion Hard Water Shampoo

Best Hard Water Shampoo for Dry and Discolored Hair

Reality check; most shampoos are drying and not safe to use on colored hair. But this does not mean that you need to sacrifice moisture and vibrancy in your quest of squeaky-clean tresses. With Ion Hard Water Shampoo, you can have both of best worlds.  It deeply cleanses to remove mineral elements that dry and discolor hair whilst bringing back hair’s natural radiance.

Top ingredients include surfactants and foam stabilizers which already signify a high-performing deep-cleansing action. While the strong formulation might raise a red flag to those who are hair care conscious, the shampoo is also full-packed of hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, butylene glycol, panthenol, citric acid to replenish the moisture.

Ion Hard Water Shampoo is good for dry and damaged hair but also works well with most hair types. It can be used daily to preserve the vibrancy and health of hair exposed to hard and well waters. Cautious should be done on thin to fine hair as the formula may be too harsh on sensitive hair types.

Pros

  • Eliminates mineral elements from hair and scalp
  • Hydrates and replenishes moisture loss
  • Reduces dryness and neutralizes discoloration caused by hard water
  • Safe for all hair types including colored hair

Cons

  • Not the best daily shampoo for sensitive and fragile hair

3. Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo

Mild Clarifying Shampoo for Sensitive Hair and  Scalp

Claim to remove “ 90% of heavy, dulling residue”, Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo is designed to deep-clean your hair and scalp in the least irritating way possible. While it may be advertised as a shampoo for build-ups caused primarily by hair styling products, it also has the right formula to target water deposits.

The surfactant cleans strands without stripping the color out of the hair so it is also safe to say that it is the ideal for color-treated hair. Looking through the other ingredients, it is also is packed with hair conditioning components. Among the notable ingredient is castor oil that works to soothe hair and scalp while providing nourishment. Propylene glycol is known for its anti-bacterial properties but is also a highly effective humectant that traps in moisture into the hair.  Finally citric acid made it to the list to keep the formula at the right pH level so it cleanses your tresses without disturbing its moisture balance. The result is clean and refreshed with an added volume and bounce.

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo is used as a once-a-week treatment to strip hair of any dull residue. It can be used with your regular shampoo to boost up deep-cleansing.

Pros

  • Cleanses 90 percent off of build-ups
  • Lather and rinses easily
  • Mild and non-irritating formula
  • Safe for all hair types including thin, fragile and chemically-processed hair
  • Can be used with a regular shampoo
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Strong scent
  • May be drying for some

4. Design Essentials Oat Protein & Henna Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Design Essentials Oat Protein & Henna Deep Cleansing Shampoo

Daily Clarifying Shampoo for Thinning Hair

Hard water contains minerals that weaken hair bonds, making it brittle and prone to hair breakage and thinning. If those hard-to-clean hair strands all over the bathroom floor frustrate you, time to switch up shampoo. Featuring a hydrolized oat protein, this clarifying shampoo from Design Essentials does not the only detox and cleanse but also penetrates into the hair shaft to replenish protein and strengthen the structure of each hair strands. Coupled up with henna extracts to improve moisture retention and elasticity while giving your hair volume and shine. The result is a fuller-looking hair that is resilient to breakage and damage.

Unlike other clarifying shampoos, the formula is made to be gentle and ideal for everyday use (or weekly together with your favorite shampoo as needed). It is also filled with botanical extracts to revive dull hair. The nourishing and gentle formula is also ideal to use by hair that is relaxed or permed because of the inclusion of well-rounded ingredients that improve elasticity on chemically or heat styled hair.

Pros

  • With the hair-friendly benefits of oat protein, henna extract, and other botanical extracts
  • Thoroughly cleanses without stripping hair’s natural oil
  • Adds volume and sheen
  • Promotes healthy hair growth
  • Gentle on all hair types and conditions including fine, thinning, relaxed and permed
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Contains paraben and sulfate
  • Packaging needs improvement

5. Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

Best Mineral Removing Shampoo for Pre-Color Treatments

Coloring hair without getting rid of those stubborn water deposits would be almost impossible since the hair shaft can only take much. Without a place, the pigment molecules cannot get in. And although some molecules may be able to fit in, it would result in uneven hair color. This is where Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo comes handy. The purifying shampoo banishes heavy build-up and toxins that might be getting in the way for hair treatments such as coloring, relaxing and perming.

It also addresses other hair issues caused by hard water such as hair loss and clumpy hair roots. The formula is infused with plant extracts such as ginseng, rosemary, and sage to improve dermal cells on the scalp, which will, in turn, nourish hair roots and strengthen hair follicles, encouraging hair growth and restoring fullness whilst adding sheen.

Apart from being a preparatory cleanser for hair chemical treatments, Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo can also be a weekly hair detox to purify hair of gunks, grime, and pollutants. The shampoo smells like an airy clean-smelling fresh fragrance that is not too strong yet lingers for a while. It is the best algorithm-approved scent for those who are not fond of flowery or fruity scents.

Pros

  • Preparatory shampoo for hair treatments
  • Banishes heavy residue and pollutant build-up
  • Conditions and nourishes the scalp to encourage healthy hair growth
  • For a fuller-looking and shiny hair
  • Leaves hair a fresh invigorating scent

Cons

  • Not ideal for daily use

Choosing The Best Hard Water Shampoo

Your regular shampoo won’t just cut it if you are left with no option but hard water to bath your hair. As mentioned, the minerals present in hard water get in the way of lathering because they don’t dissolve easily. We all know how the lathering is essential for hair cleansing. So you get the picture, without lathering, the dirt and mineral residues build up, griming and weighing down your hair.

Apart from these, other hair treatments such as conditioners, hair masks as well as dyes cannot get into the hair because of the buildup. With all of these being said, you need to be specifically meticulous in choosing a shampoo. You need a formula that is tough on mineral aggressors but still gentle on your hair. Below are the types of shampoos and ingredients you should look for.

CHELATING SHAMPOO

This formula is really meant for cleansing hair of heavy buildup. The way it works is that it makes use of ingredients that binds into impurities, mineral deposits, and toxins. Once the chelating agents form bonds with the minerals, they make them soluble, making it easier to rinse them away with water. This allows lathering agents to cleanse hair of other stubborn layers that prevents hair from receiving hydration and nourishment.

CLARIFYING SHAMPOO

This type of shampoo is known for its purifying, detoxifying and deep-cleansing properties that lift up stubborn build-up from your hair to a great extent. It contains more surfactants (known as the cleaning agents)  and less of the conditioning agents as compared to conventional shampoos.  Because of the strong formula, clarifying shampoos are not advised for daily use.

How often you ‘clarify’ really depends on how much your hair goes through on a daily basis. If you don’t have hard water problems or use only minimal products, you should be fine with clarifying for as little as every other month. However, if hair-ruining hard water is the concern or if you tend to use a lot of hair products, you need to clarify once or twice a week.

The way a clarifying shampoo works to withdraw minerals is different from that of chelating shampoo. Instead of attaching itself to the residue, it directly breaks down the minerals on the outer layer to easily washes it off.

SULFATE-FREE SHAMPOO

Not to confused with the sulfate mineral, the sulfate in shampoos is a type of chemical compound added to act as a foaming agent. They can go by the name sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium Laureth sulfate. While sulfate-containing shampoos may be safe to use at low concentrations, fine to weak hair may have issues. You may get that rich bubbly lather later but a  shampoo containing sulfate is linked with damage to hair protein and balance moisture. If your hair can only tolerate much abrasive, going for a sulfate-free shampoo is your best bet.

The problem with deep-cleansing shampoos is they mostly contain sulfate as a surfactant. But if you try to look enough, there are still gentle, sulfate-free clarifying shampoos in the market that is ideal for fragile and sensitive hair.

CONDITIONING AGENTS

Most shampoos use the same strong surfactants present in detergents and other household cleaning chemicals. Your hair might be squeaky clean but it is also parched of its natural oil. This is why after shampooing, your hair often feels dry, no matter what type of shampoo you used on your hair.

It is always advisable to use a good conditioner after the shampooing process to bring back the balance of moisture in your hair. But going for a shampoo that already contains moisturizing oils and conditioning polymers gets your hair the best hydration possible. These additives are what alleviates the dryness that is often attributed to the shampooing process.

When choosing a good conditioning shampoo, look for ingredients like dimethicone, panthenol, silicone, and glycerin because they are moisturizing and reduces hair friction, thereby neutralizing static and frizz. Plant-based derivatives such as coconut oil, argan, tea tree oil among many others have healing benefits for damaged hair and irritated scalp that comes with exposure to hard water. Additionally, these conditioning oils are what also feeds hair with nourishment for stronger and healthier growth.

Our Pick For The Best Shampoo For Hard Water


Out of the bunch, Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo got all the characteristics we are looking for in the best shampoo for hard water. First, it is a chelating shampoo which means it is really formulated for the cleansing of heavy build-ups such as stubborn mineral deposits.

As you may already know, shampoos are generally drying. The fact that the formulation leaves out the use of sulfate means it cleanses without disturbing hair’s natural production of sebum. It is also free from other controversial chemicals such as the paraben. The gentle formula is ideal for everyday use and caters to all hair types including sensitive and chemically treated hair.

But what really sets this shampoo apart from the other products featured here is the use of natural ingredients and antioxidants that nourishes and conditions hair to revive dullness while leaving a protective layer against hair-damaging pollutants. A hair cleanser and conditioner all-in-one? Count me in!

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