A Water Softening Shower Head Could Make A Huge Difference In Your Beauty Routine

While many of us pay close attention to source and contents the water we drink, we may not think so often about the water that comes out of the shower head, which we use every day on our hair, faces, and bodies. Filtering the water we put in our water bottles is not uncommon, but filtering the water we bathe in might not occur to as many of us. Yet, there could be some benefits to doing exactly that. 

The first thing that's important to understand is the difference between hard water and soft water. Hard water tends to be higher in minerals like calcium and magnesium (via Healthline). Soft water, on the other hand, has lower levels of these minerals, and tends instead to have slightly higher concentrations of sodium (salt). While high mineral content might sound like a good thing since many of us buy bottled water that touts itself as "natural mineral water," bathing in hard water isn't gentle on our skin and hair. 

If you notice white spots on your glassware after you've washed, rinsed, and dried it thoroughly, or if you find your hands feel like they have a film on them after washing them, you might have hard water in your home. Those spots are mineral deposits from the calcium and magnesium, and the film on your hands is likely from soap residue sticking to those minerals and remaining on your hands.    

How does hard water affect skin and hair?

Hard water can affect both your hair and skin in unpleasant ways (via GQ). It can leave a film on your hair that prevents you from thoroughly cleansing it with your shampoo, and it can also prevent your conditioner from penetrating deeply enough to condition your hair the way it's meant to. This means your hair might not feel clean, might feel weighed down, and might look dull and listless. It could also feel more brittle and be harder to tame or style. 

Further, hard water can irritate your skin by interfering with your skin's natural barrier function over time. Because hard water tends to leave a film on your skin, those minerals can prevent proper cleansing and proper moisturization, leaving your skin feeling dry and uncomfortable. This is also why hard water can lead to scalp irritation like itchiness, flaking, etc. If you live with a chronic skin condition, these excess minerals can also cause a flare-up of eczema and psoriasis. 

Luckily, just like you might filter your drinking water, there are shower heads that help to filter and soften the water that you wash with. And if any of the above situations sound familiar, it might be worth looking into them.  

How can a water-softening shower head help?

A water-softening shower head works by filtering out excess levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, thereby making your shower water more gentle on your skin and hair. And the good news is, they aren't totally unaffordable! Most water-softening shower heads cost less than $100 upfront, and after that you will just need to replace the filters at the recommended intervals to ensure your shower head operates at its best (via Guardian Water Services).

The filters in these shower heads are generally made from carbon or another substance that naturally traps the minerals you're looking to avoid. The shower heads themselves can generally be installed by you, rather than needing a professional plumber to handle the job, and the replacing of the filters is also something you can likely handle yourself. 

While there are systems that allow you to soften water for your whole home at once, these are generally more expensive, and could run you between $1k and $5k. So if you are just looking to make your showers a little more comfortable and to keep your hair and skin softer, cleaner, and better moisturized, a softening shower head might be the best and most affordable place to start!