• Courtney Phillips

My hair: the case for clean tap water

Have you ever tested the water in your house for hardness or chemicals? I never have before, and I lived in two cities with probably the nasties tap water in the country – if you leave out Flint – New Orleans and Houston! My bathwater in Houston was green on the reg! Give me a break if that wasn’t full of some form of chemicals or biological bodies. So, upon moving to D.C. and our home in Alexandria, I was told that Virginia has some of the best tap water in the country. Regardless, I still bought a fancy shower filter for my hair and skin. Think what you must, but I’m high maintenance, and I own it! (And for the most part, Mark allows it. Lol.)

Fast forward a few weeks. I begin to start looking uglier and uglier. No. Take that back. Fast forward one shower. It took me a few weeks to notice! My skin was getting dried out and cracked! My hair was dried and breaking. The color of it was actually changing. I immediately thought it was due to the much lower humidity and a need to change products due to my new environment. I know people complain about the humidity in D.C., but it’s still only half of what we lived within Houston. So, I bought much more nourishing products and a humidifier to tried that out for size. It got a little better, but I still looked like a much uglier version of myself.

In October after living in D.C. for two months, I hopped on a plane to go back to Houston for my best friend’s birthday weekend. If you know me, you know that I have a mild germ-a-phobia. So, upon landing from air travel, I must shower and wash my hair (even though I don’t wash my hair every day – more on this another time). I didn’t even have the energy to comb it out. I threw it in a top knot and climbed on the couch with Katie for DVRed TGIT from the night before and a gabfest, then bed. Well, when I woke up the next day, much to my surprise, I looked like a goddess. My old “natural” waves were flowing, and I didn’t even need to comb my hair. It wasn’t knotted or dry or broken. The color even looked revived from that nasty, green Houston water! I wasn’t home long enough for the humidity to have been a factor…

Upon my return to The District, and much to Mark’s dismay, we went to the hardware store for water tests! Come to find out our rental house has the hardest water on the test, the highest concentration of two or three other chemicals. It is worse in the shower than in the kitchen sink. My filter was helping a tad, but barely! How can water have that much of an effect on the look and feel of my hair when I’m using high-quality hair products and tools, have an amazing hairdresser, go in for all my trims regularly, take care of it, etc.?

So, I decided to test my hypothesis. I bought bottles of water at the grocery store. Normal gallon jugs of spring water. The ones I had walked by hundreds of times and wondered what they were for. Yea, those water bottles. And I washed my hair, toned my hair (because the color was brassy), and conditioned my hair all with bottled water. Immediately, I noticed a HUGE difference, because I needed less than a third of the amount of product that I needed before just to shampoo. Then, by the second wash, my hair started to become revived like it had in Houston!

So since then, I’ve continued this bottle water washing, and I’ve also added a Brita filter to the bathroom sink for brushing our teeth and washing my face. It’s not perfect, but it’s a temporary fix, while we live here. [Below you’ll find links to all of the products and tools that have saved my life.]

Of course, Mark still thinks I’m insane, so he asked the neighbors about their water “issues.” And they have none. I’m convinced it’s the pipes, since the water tests were different in the kitchen than the bathroom, and the city is known for such good water. Who knows? We’re moving later in the summer, and I’m praying for a warm shower to wash my head under in our new home. Have you ever had similar struggles with water and it’s effect on your hair texture, color or strength? What did you do to combat it?

Hard Water Survival Recommendations

Here are some of the crazy items I’ve had to use to combat my water problem over the last year that has worked:

  • Jonathan Product Beauty Water Purification System. This shower filter is the best one I’ve tried to date. I’ve had about four or five that I’ve purchased and sent back. Our water is so gross that it smells bad and leaves your skin stinky after a shower, so even though I use bottled water on my hair this filter helps with our skin. It’s worth the money! $80

  • Brita Chrome On Tap Faucet Water Filter System. This goes without saying. A lot of people use these and after getting those results on the water test, I didn’t want to brush my teeth or wash my face with that water anymore. $20

  • Joico Blue Shampoo and Conditioner. I buy the giant pumps at Ulta twice a year at their biannual sales. These are amazing whether or not you have a water problem if you have blonde hair you want to keep tight. $14 with sale $30 without

  • Tint Rinse by eSalon (click on balancers and select the purple one) This keeps my blonde color from turning red within two washes! I have to use this AT LEAST every other wash, but I’ve started to use it every time. You can simply follow the directions on the bottle. It’s simple and you won’t change your hair color. $15

  • It’s a 10 Hair Mask. I use this for the texture and dryness. I do this about once or twice a month, but probably need to do this more often. I use their leave-in condition and love the stuff. $20.

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