Best shampoo and conditioner for hard water

Most of the water found in western households is hard water. About 85% of the water in the US is classified as hard water. Statistics indicate that about 13 million households in the UK are being served with hard water. A lot of people are constantly looking for the best shampoo and conditioner for hard water areas, in a bid to avoid the effects of this type of water on their hair.

Here are my top three picks for the best shampoo for hard water:

  1. Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo
  2. Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo
  3. Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three

My top three picks for the best conditioner for hard water are:

  1. Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Conditioner
  2. Nioxin Scalp Therapy Conditioner, System 2
  3. Ion Hard Water Conditioner


Best shampoo for hard water comparison table

BrandImageDetails
Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo.Restores hair back to its original color
.Removes mineral build-up and impurities
.Smoothes the hair cuticle
Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo.Perfect for curly hair
.Removes build-up from hard water minerals
.Safe for color-treated hair
Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three.Removes minerals found in hard water
.Prevent swimmers' "chlorine green"
.Brightens hair
Kenra Clarifying Shampoo.Brightens highlighted, bleached, or gray hair
.Helps with dandruff and itchy scalp
.Color-safe
Hairprint – 99% Plant-Based/All Natural Chelating Shampoo.All natural
.Doesn’t damage highlights
.Restores your original hair color
Grapefruit Detox Re-Nutrient Shine Repair Shampoo.Gently removes hard water deposits
.Lathers up really well
.Color-safe

 

Best shampoo for hard water areas

There are shampoos made purposely for hard water. Apart from those, some of the best shampoos for use in hard water areas are chelating shampoos and clarifying shampoos.

The following are some of the most effective hard water shampoos in the market.

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
Malibu C is formulated without gluten, parabens, and sulfates.

It’s a vegan cleansing product that aims to removes mineral build-up and impurities without stripping the hair’s natural moisture.

With aqua (water) as one of the key ingredients, this shampoo is great in infusing moisture to your hair strands for radiant shine and maximum manageability.

Malibu C is popular for its ability to fight against brittle, dry, discolored and dull hair that is caused by the accumulation of minerals found in hard water.

The rice protein contained is the shampoo not only smoothes the hair cuticle, but it also enhances the manageability and body of hair.

Additionally, it improves gloss and texture while providing a protective barrier on damaged, oxidized hair.

Allantoin, another ingredient, protects the scalp and prevents irritation and inflammation that can lead to excessive scratching.

Malibu C fights discoloration caused by iron and copper minerals found in hard water.

The shampoo features the aroma of Orange Dreamsicle which is a great fragrance.

Pros

  • Can be used on all hair types
  • Leaves hair soft and shiny
  • Restores hair back to its original color
  • Acts as a great detangler
  • Doesn’t dry out hair compared to regular shampoos
  • It lathers and rinses well in hard water
  • The bottle of shampoo lasts a long time

Cons

  • For some people with very fine hair, it can leave your hair looking a little floppy

 

Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This clarifying shampoo is formulated to be curl-friendly.

It’s great for removing build-up from hard water minerals, sprays, oils, and many styling products.

Its gentle but powerful chelating formula uses a blend of lemon, grapefruit, and orange flower to remove build-up without drying out the hair strands.

According to the manufacturer, one wash is enough to “reboot” your hair’s curl pattern for a fresh start.

Curls are left clean, completely nourished, and ready for styling.

For people with color-treated hair, this product is safe to use, although it should not be used directly after a coloring process.

For best results, you should gently massage a small amount of shampoo through wet hair (and the scalp as well), then rinse with warm water. Repeat if necessary.

The product can be used every 1-2 weeks.

Pros

  • Leaves curls ready for hydration and styling
  • Doesn’t weigh your hair down
  • A little goes a long way
  • Doesn’t dry out your hair
  • Gets rid of all the build-up
  • Leaves your hair feeling soft
  • It has a great fruity fragrance

Cons

  • Not effective for straight hair
  • Dries out hair if used too often

 

Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three


best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This shampoo is great for swimmers who are always exposed to chlorine.

It also removes iron and minerals found in hard water.

Shampoo Three from Paul Mitchell deeply cleans the hair and removes impurities while keeping the hair strands strong.

Repeated use of this cleanser will result in soft and bouncy hair.

For best results, apply a small amount of the shampoo and massage into your hair and scalp.

Rinse after you’re done with the massage.

According to the manufacturer, this shampoo is suitable for daily use except on color-treated hair.

Pros

  • Completely cleans the build-up on your hair
  • Brightens the hair
  • Keeps swimmers’ hair from turning green
  • Leaves hair soft, silky and shiny

Cons

  • It’s not color-safe

 

Kenra Clarifying Shampoo

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This product is great for all types of hair.

It helps to brighten highlighted, bleached or gray hair; and is also great for color-treated hair.

The shampoo contains extracts of grapefruit and witch hazel along with amino acid chelators that aid in the elimination of dulling deposits and buildup.

After exposure to hard water, you might want to give this shampoo a try because it restores hair’s natural radiance by removing build-up from minerals such as copper, calcium, and magnesium.

The product manufacturer promises that this shampoo deeply cleans your mane without stripping moisture from the hair strands.

This helps to maintain the look and feel of healthy hair for individuals using hard water and well water.

For best results, you are advised to massage the shampoo into wet hair, then add water to lather. Rinse and repeat if necessary.

The shampoo is suitable for use on a daily basis.

Pros

  • After clarifying your hair, it leaves your hair shiny and healthy
  • Hair retains moisture much better after using it
  • It helps with dandruff and itchy scalp
  • A little of the shampoo goes a long way
  • Leaves your hair soft and manageable
  • Doesn’t dry out your hair
  • It smells great!

Cons

  • Some users are allergic to grapefruit which is one of the ingredients
  • Some users say it doesn’t clarify as expected

 

Hairprint – 99% Plant-Based/All Natural Chelating Shampoo

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This product is designed to remove product build-up as well as hard water minerals.

It uses specific botanicals that heal, exfoliate, stimulate and soothe the scalp.

This scent-free cleanser is made from leaves, bark, seeds, roots, oils, petals, and fruits.

It’s also paraben-free and sulfate-free.

Some of the ingredients are fermented.

This is because many plant ingredients are not bio-available to the skin cells unless they are broken down by bacteria.

This chelating shampoo shouldn’t be used on a daily basis since it can dry out your hair.

Pros

  • Leaves the hair squeaky clean
  • It leaves your hair feeling soft
  • Leaves your hair looking brighter
  • It doesn’t damage highlights
  • It restores your original hair color

Cons

  • Strips away hair’s natural oils

 

Grapefruit Detox Re-Nutrient Shine Repair Shampoo

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This shampoo gently removes product build-up, hard water deposits and environmental pollutants from the hair and scalp.

It deeply cleans your hair without drying it out.

It’s a sulfate-free formula that reverses the damaging effects of environmental factors and hard water minerals.

This helps to restore the natural shine and body of your hair.

The Re-Nutrient Shine Repair shampoo does not contain any synthetic dyes, colors or fragrances.

It’s also paraben-free, DEA-free, BPA/phthalate-free and isn’t tested on animals.

The shampoo with a refreshing grapefruit scent is color-safe.

The manufacturer is confident over its ability to enhance vibrancy for touchably soft hair with a glossy shine.

For best results, massage the shampoo into wet hair, lather, and then rinse.

Pros

  • It smoothes your hair
  • Strips hard water build-up completely
  • It doesn’t affect color-treated hair
  • It lathers up really well
  • Leaves hair soft and fluffy
  • A little goes a long way
  • Great for oily hair

Cons

  • Can cause scalp irritation
  • Some people react to the citrus ingredient

 

Ion Hard Water Shampoo

The ion Hard Water Shampoo is instrumental in preventing the build-up of hard water and well water minerals in your hair.

Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper can cause dryness, damage, and discoloration of your mane.

This shampoo promises to deal with undesirable effects on your hair.

This product that can be used daily is great for all hair types.

It’s safe for color-treated hair, as well as chemically-treated hair. It’s also 100% vegan.

The shampoo helps to increase hair manageability by adding shine and moisture to your strands.

It’s formulated to smooth your hair and give it some volume.

Pros

  • Eliminates frizz
  • Leaves your hair soft and shiny
  • Doesn’t fade color-treated hair
  • Helps hair to absorb conditioner well
  • Restores your original hair color
  • Deals with constant itching of the scalp
  • Restores your natural hair texture

Cons

  • It can dry out your hair if used daily

 

 

Best conditioner for hard water comparison table

BrandImageDetails
Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Conditioner.Leaves hair soft, silky and shiny
.Eliminates scalp irritation and itching
.Great for swimmers
Nioxin Scalp Therapy Conditioner, System 2.Improves hair texture
.Reduces hair breakage
.Leaves hair looking fuller
Ion Hard Water Conditioner.100% vegan
.Leaves hair soft, shiny and manageable
.Safe for daily use

 

Best conditioner for hard water

Most chelating and clarifying shampoos can dry out your hair, especially if they are used on a daily basis.

This is because they are powerful cleansing agents that are designed to strip out mineral deposits, dirt and product build-up.

They end up stripping the hair’s natural moisture as well.

This is where good conditioners come in.

They are moisturizing agents that help to replenish your hair’s natural moisture that is stripped out during the cleansing process.

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Conditioner

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This conditioner protects your hair strands from hard water minerals that damage and discolor it.

It preserves the overall health of your hair by moisturizing and strengthening it.

This leaves your hair soft and shiny.

This 100% vegan formula has plant-derived proteins that strengthen the hair.

It’s also formulated without sulfates, parabens, gluten, and salt.

One of the ingredients – allantoin – protects the scalp and prevents irritation and inflammation.

The conditioner is effective for daily use.

It infuses moisture to protect your locks from dryness.

Moreover, it maximizes the shine and manageability of your hair.

Another great thing about this conditioner is that it instantly removes ashy discoloration that is caused by the copper found naturally in the ground and in homes containing copper pipes.

Pros

  • Instantly removes orange discoloration from the hair
  • Leaves hair soft, silky and shiny
  • Eliminates scalp irritation and itching
  • Great for swimmers
  • Increases hair volume
  • Prevents frizz
  • Doesn’t weigh down your hair

Cons

  • Can leave some hair types greasy

 

Nioxin Scalp Therapy Conditioner, System 2

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This professional hair and scalp conditioner is designed for natural hair with progressed thinning.

It’s a lightweight conditioner that is recommended for daily use.

The System 2 Scalp Therapy Conditioner optimizes the scalp environment for healthy hair growth.

Its BioAmp technology helps it to retain moisture balance, as it’s designed to strengthen your hair and amplify the hair structure.

This conditioner moisturizes both the hair and scalp for thicker, fuller-looking hair.

For best results, apply the conditioner onto freshly-shampooed hair and massage it onto the scalp and throughout the hair.

Leave it for 1-3 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.

Pros

  • It smooths and softens your hair
  • Improves hair texture
  • Great for detangling
  • Adds shine to the hair
  • Leaves hair looking fuller
  • Reduces hair breakage

Cons

  • It doesn’t work very well for some hair types

 

Ion Hard Water Conditioner

best shampoo and conditioner for hard water
This conditioner helps prevent the build-up of hard and well water minerals.

It is 100% vegan and is safe for daily use on all hair types.

Ion Hard Water Conditioner reduces dryness and damage while adding shine and moisture.

It also increases the manageability of your hair and helps reverse and prevent discoloration.

For best results, massage the conditioner into wet hair after cleansing with shampoo.

Leave it in for 1-2 minutes and then rinse.

Pros  

  • Leaves hair soft and manageable
  • It eliminates frizz
  • Perfect for detangling your hair
  • It eliminates scalp irritation
  • Brightens your hair
  • It smells nice

Cons

  • Weighs down some hair types
  • It doesn’t properly moisturize some hair types

 

What are the signs of hard water on hair?

There are various signs that will strongly hint that your hair is suffering from exposure to hard water.

As I wrote about in this post, the calcium and magnesium deposits found in hard water can cause discoloration, and lead your hair to become dry and dull.

The minerals present in hard water pile up and can make your hair brittle and flat.

People living in hard water areas may also have an itchy scalp and suffer from dandruff.

The minerals contained in hard water accumulate on the scalp and cause irritation to the scalp. This explains the itchiness.

The minerals on the scalp may also end up forming dandruff which increases the itching.

Itchiness leads to scratching which can cause injury to some of the hair follicles and result in some hair loss.

If nothing is done to counter the effects of hard water over time, the buildup of dandruff can clog hair follicles, which can lead to hair thinning.

The minerals in hard water create a challenging atmosphere for hair to grow – there is no room to develop from the mass accumulation of minerals on the scalp.

This explains the stunted hair growth that some people experience.

 

Tips for washing hair in hard water

Some people who want to avoid any kind of contact with hard water choose to wash their hair with water from different sources.

In this post that I wrote earlier, I looked at how some people wash their hair using bottled water, while others opt to harvest rainwater.

Due to pollution- especially in big cities, some people have reservations about using rainwater as a solution to the challenges brought about by hard water.

For a more long-term solution, a lot of people buy shower filters that easily remove contaminants from the water that you shower with.

This also helps your skin which is greatly affected by hard water.

The minerals increase dryness on your skin, worsen breakouts and cause irritation.

It’s worse for people like who suffer from eczema.

Another long-term solution involves using a water softener that removes the hard water minerals through an ion-exchange process.

Another commonly used long-term solution is the reverse osmosis system which is a water purification approach that focuses on the use of a semi-permeable membrane to effectively remove unwanted minerals.

If these solutions are not available to you, worry not.

I’ve reviewed some of the shampoos and conditioners that are specifically made for use in hard water areas.

 

How to choose the best shampoo for hard water

As mentioned earlier, the best shampoos for use in hard water areas are chelating shampoos and clarifying shampoos.

A clarifying shampoo is one that helps to get rid of buildup in your hair.

These shampoos work by exfoliating the cuticle and breaking down residual product, such as that left on the surface of the strands by hair sprays.

This type of shampoo should be used occasionally, in cases where quite a bit of residue has accumulated on your hair.

Chelating shampoos, on the other hand, are usually stronger than clarifying shampoos and are used to remove chlorine and minerals that can cause damage to your hair.

Just like clarifying shampoos, these shampoos should be used occasionally because they can dry out your hair if they’re used regularly.

A chelating shampoo is essential for hair exposed to hard water.

Regular shampoos are important in consistently keeping the hair and the scalp clean.

However, hair already experiencing a buildup of dandruff, itchiness or frizz needs a stronger shampoo.

Mineral build-up caused by hard water can be managed through the use of the chelating shampoo that offers a deeper clean compared to regular shampoos.

The deep clean revives the bouncy nature of hair while restoring hair to the original color.

It also leaves your hair soft and shiny.

 

Conclusion

The products reviewed above will help you in dealing with the effects of using hard water on your hair.

A good chelating or clarifying shampoo will deeply cleanse your hair and strip all hard water minerals, as well as dirt and product build-up.

Always make sure to follow it up with a good moisturizing conditioner because most of these shampoos really dry out your hair.

The chelating and clarifying shampoos should not be used on a daily basis unless the manufacturer says otherwise.

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