Is Hard Water the Reason for Your Bad Hair Day?

Because clarifying and chelating shampoos also remove the hair’s natural oils, they’re not for regular use – once a week, or once every two weeks, will suffice. “Be sure to follow with a good conditioner, and also consider a leave-in conditioner if your hair is dry, to restore moisture,” Dr. Rubin adds.

A weekly scalp treatment will also be beneficial for removing hard water buildup, says Dr. Engelman, which will help clarify the skin on your scalp and promote a healthy microbiome. Here are a few expert-recommended products that can help combat the effects of hard water.

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo

Olaplex

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo

When it comes to at-home products, Perry swears by this gentle clarifying formula that combines chelating ingredients like trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate and citric acid with moisturizing panthenol and Olaplex’s proprietary bond-building molecules. “I love it because it’s sulfate-free, non-stripping, and keeps your hair color shiny and vibrant.”

K18 Peptide Prep Detox Shampoo

K18

K18 Peptide Prep Detox Shampoo

Bodt recommends this color-safe, deep-cleansing shampoo, which combines the brand’s signature K18Peptide with both clarifying and chelating ingredients, strengthening the hair strands as it breaks down and rinses away oils, product build-up, and mineral deposits.

L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

L’Oréal Professionnel

L’Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

This chelating shampoo starts as a rich cream and then lathers to a lightweight foam that gently removes metal deposits in the hair, leaving strands looking lustrous and feeling soft and silky.

Girl + Hair ACV Rinse

If you have curly hair, or your hair is especially dry and brittle, Dr. Okereke recommends cleansing your scalp and hair with this apple cider vinegar rinse after you’ve shampooed. “This rinse is great at removing build-up without stripping your hair and scalp of moisture and does so with natural ingredients such as apple cider vinegar,” Developed by board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Camille Howard, the formula is gentle enough for dry, brittle or color-treated hair and it is free of sulfates. A bonus: castor oil and shea butter help add moisture back to your hair. In addition to ACV, the rinse also contains the chelating ingredient, disodium EDTA.

Ouai Detox Clarifying Shampoo

Ouai

Ouai Detox Clarifying Shampoo

I like this clarifying shampoo because it has both chelating and clarifying ingredients to detox hair and remove mineral deposits,” says Dr. Okereke, who notes this formula is also great for curly hair textures due to its moisturizing properties.

DpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

dpHue

DpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

To remove impurities in the hair, Bodt also loves this clarifying treatment. Apple cider vinegar is a classic, natural ingredient that breaks down build-up and adds shine to the hair. Look lower down on the INC list, however, and you’ll spot disodium EDTA and citric acid — both chelators — that latch onto heavy metals in the hair and rinse them away.

Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

Moroccanoil

Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo

Moisturizing and deep-cleaning, this is another one of Dr. Okereke’s top picks. “Great for the hair and scalp, this is a clarifying shampoo with ingredients such as argan and avocado oil to prevent it from stripping hair of moisture.” Chelators tetrasodium EDTA and disodium EDTA sit at the lower end of the INCI list to remove mineral build up.

R + Co Teacup Peacholine + Kombucha Detox Rinse

R+Co

R + Co Teacup Peacholine + Kombucha Detox Rinse

Garren recommends this lightweight conditioning rinse from his R+Co range to keep your hair shiny and smooth and your color looking bright. Free of sulfates and synthetic fragrance, the treatment uses a combination of kombucha, sodium citrate, and citric acid (the latter of which are chelating ingredients) to draw out minerals like calcium and iron from the hair, preventing tangles and leaving strands feeling silkier and looking shinier.

Nature Lab Tokyo Perfect Clean 2-in-1 Scalp Scrub + Shampoo

Nature Lab Tokyo

Nature Lab Tokyo Perfect Clean 2-in-1 Scalp Scrub + Shampoo

Infused with probiotic-rich sake water, antioxidants, and plant extracts, “this product is great for balancing the scalp microbiome, removing build up, and promoting healthy hair,” says Dr. Engelman.

Act + Acre Cold Processed Vitamin E Scalp Detox Oil

Act + Acre

Act + Acre Cold Processed Vitamin E Scalp Detox Oil

Reavey recommends weekly scalp treatments to remove build-up on the scalp, ensuring the microbiome stays balanced and clean. Several drops of the cold-pressed oil that she developed has the added benefit of restoring the scalp’s moisture barrier to relieve dryness and itchiness, too.

A Final Word on Hard Water

In 2024, we are beginning to see more product ranges dedicated specifically to combating the negative effects of hard water. Formulated to remove heavy metals and mineral buildup in the hair, these products contain high amounts of chelating ingredients, says George.

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