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Why Your Water May be Drying Out Your Hair System and How to Prevent It

Tuesday, May 05, 2015 12:30 PM  |  by HD-Susan

Many people who wear hair systems--especially those with long hair--experience annoying dried out hair in their system at one point or another. There are several factors that lead to dry, crunchy hair like harmful alcohols in hair products, heat styling and blow-drying. But there is one factor that is commonly overlooked--
the quality of your water.

whats in your water

Do you know what's in your water?

As hair wearers, we take special precautions to protect our hair from swimming pool water because
it is well known that chlorine dries out the hair.
It also causes oxidation that makes the hair lighten
or change colors. Most of us have experienced this
first-hand. But did you know that here in the U.S.
most of the treated water that flows into your
home can contain more chlorine than a
swimming pool?

Yep, that means you might as well wear your rubber swim cap in the shower every day.

Conditioning isn't always enough

Chlorine may be great for killing bacteria, but it wreaks havoc on our hair. As you probably know, the hair in hair replacement systems has been processed several times and is not naturally moisturized by scalp oils, so it's easier for the hair to dry out. Because of this, we make a concerted effort to keep our hair systems conditioned with leave-in and rinse-out conditioners, and hair serums and oils.

Think about the naturally dehydrating quality of salt. Chlorine acts similarly by sucking all of the moisture out of your hair (and the color along with it), creating tangling, frizzing and breakage. So, even if you're faithfully conditioning your hair and avoiding heat styling and harmful alcohols, the chlorinated water in your home may be undoing all of your hard work.

Filter out the nasties

Knowing the water in your home likely contains a lot of chlorine, it's really important that you take precautions to filter it out before it gets into your hair and scalp.

So, instead of wearing a rubber swim cap in the shower, an easy and inexpensive way to reduce or remove the harsh chlorine in your shower is to purchase a water filter designed specifically for that purpose. For a shower filter that is cost effective, quick and easy to install (no "plumbing" experience required) and gets rid of the nasties, check out the Aquasana brand (full disclosure: Hair Direct does not sell Aquasana products, nor are we an affiliate).

Aquasana's shower filter uses a two-stage filtration system that removes chlorine and synthetic chemicals like pesticides, solvents and medications while helping to balance the pH. You can also get whole-house water filtration systems that will protect your hair if you wash your system in your sink. There are many different brands and options available on the market. Just make sure you get something that filters out chlorine. 

Shower filters are a quick, easy and affordable way to help protect your hair replacement system and your scalp at the same time. This could be the missing link that's preventing your hair system from being soft, smooth and manageable.

If you filter your shower water and have noticed a difference in your hair, let us know in the comments below.

About HD-Susan

Integration units, clip-ons, bonded systems—even hair transplants—I‘ve been there and done that! After mastering bonded hair replacement, I started a consultation business and created a training system that educates women on how to transition into wearing bonded hair faster, with greater success, and less emotional fatigue. I posted in the HD forum for over 4 years as a client, and eventually joined the staff at Hair Direct as a content developer in 2012. My role focuses primarily on creating educational and instructional materials that can help you learn faster and make more strategic decisions so you can have a great experience wearing hair. It’s not just about looking good in your hair, it’s about feeling good under it too.


Jonathan said:


Thanks for posting the article. I have always suspected that the quality of water had an impact because when I stayed in a hotel the water made my hair look and feel so much better.  I like to get my hair wet between shampoos to reactivate the curl but it seems to dry my hair and affect the bond.   I purchased a water filter to put on my shower and had some success but I eventually started wearing a shower cap. When I get out I spray filtered water on my hair and that seems to have helped keep the hair from drying out so soon and I can get a few more days out of my bond

marylynnc11 said:

Hi Susan,

Do you know if water hardness plays a role in damaging or drying out hair? I have hard water and have started washing my wigs using bottled water. It seems to make the wigs last longer, but I won't be able to do this once my hair arrives from HD and is attached to my head.



HD-Susan said:

Jonathan-Sounds like you figured out what works best for you. I think with hotels, usually the water pressure is pretty strong too which helps clean some buildup out of your hair. I have very soft water and not the best water pressure and find it is very hard to get conditioner properly rinsed out of my hair.

HD-Susan said:

Marylynnc11--I would guess that yes, hard water isn't really good for your hair. It could cause mineral buildup and dry out the hair. I definitely recommend you get a good shower filter to help filter out some of those things before it gets to your head.

Scott d said:

How can i prevent colour loss?

It seems that after the first shampoo

The colour and texture changes.

HD-Susan said:

Hi Scott-

Hard water and heavily chlorinated water can certainly dry out your hair and cause color loss. There are a number of other factors that can contribute to that as well. Here is a link to a bunch of articles for you :) http://www.hairdirect.com/community/blogs/hdblog/archive/tags/Oxidation/default.aspx

Avidtrainer said:

Just bought the filter you recommended.  

Avidtrainer said:

This was an excellent article.  For years I've fought with dry hair on my hair replacement.  I've tried every conditioner and moisturizer known and after about the third shampoo it looks dry, dull and brittle like straw.  I understand it is because the hair piece wasn't receiving oil from my scalp like my own hair but figured something else must be coming into play if all the intense conditioners weren't working.  I have a new custom piece arriving in the next four weeks and want to get off on a good start with it.  I've ordered the water filter you recommended here and thrown out all shampoos and conditioners that contain sulfates and paraben.  

I tend to have a mild case of dandruff which I've successfully kept under control with an over the counter dandruff shampoo.  However, I know that is very drying and damaging to the hair.  I try to only cover my own hair when using it an not the hair replacement.  I've discovered something natural that seems to not only be working in alleviating my dandruff but also leaving my hair softer and shiny and that is apple cider vinegar.  Can you tell me if that is safe to use on the hair piece?  I've used it on both my hair and the hair piece and it seems to have the same reaction on the hair piece, softer, shinier hair.  I understand the cuticle of the hair on hair pieces has been striped and the hair has been processed so I wanted to confirm there would be no negative side effects of using apple cider vinegar on my hair replacement.

One other area I'd like to address is the fact my stylist colors my hair.  Both my hair replacement and my own hair.  I'm concerned that is another area that might be causing excessive damage/drying to the hair.  I've researched the subject and found that there are ammonia and peroxide free dyes that are supposed to be less drying/damaging to the hair.  I'm not sure how effective they are and would like to be educated more on that.  Are there any specific brands you recommend?  I found this one that looks interesting.  http://www.goldwell.us/products/color/permanent/elumen/  The science behind it is that it is an entirely new process to put color on strands of hair. Instead of damaging hair by disrupting the strand's cuticle -- as happens with ammonia or peroxide, and which leads to dried out and damaged 'dos -- the color molecules penetrate the shaft through magnetic attraction. Hair remains healthy, and fewer chemicals end up on your head.

HD-Susan said:

Hi there avidtrainer-

Sounds like you're working really hard to keep your hair in the best shape possible. I'm not sure if the filter will make a huge difference for you, I just know it will definitely filter out a lot of the stuff that is not good for the hair, so that is a good thing!

As for the apple cider vinegar, yes, you can use it. The acid actually sloughs off a little of the remaining cuticle as well as deep clean the hair. It would be great if you shared your process--I've used it before but it didn't make a big difference and it was hard to get the vinegar smell out. Let me know how you're doing it please :)

Regarding the coloring, yes, that is probably your biggest issue, based on what you mentioned above. The hair system is processed usually to remove the color and cuticle, then to add color back in, as well as wave if you have any. So, having your stylist further process the hair can really comprise it much further. I know we recommend Wella color in-house and you can even order the color to match your system in many cases. I'm not an expert on color though so I recommend you call and speak to a hair tech who can give you more insight on that.

Good luck with everything and good for you for educating yourself to have the best experience possible. :)

Avidtrainer said:

Thanks for your reply Susan.  I've recently started this so it is an experiment in process but so far, so good.  I'm using the apple cider vinegar to control dandruff but one of the added benefits is shinier, softer hair and it is less drying than commercial dandruff shampoos.  The way I avoid the scent is by starting out with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Retention Shampoo.  Next I mix a half cup of water and half cup of aople cider vinegar together, apply to scalp (avoid eyes) and let it sit for at least five minutes and rinse.  Then I follow with Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Conditioner.  Both of these Shea Moisture products are sulfate free and have a great scent that totally eliminates any scent left behind from the apple cider vinegar.  The final step is putting a dab of Brylcreem, yes Brylcreem in my palms, evenly distributing it then running it through my hair.  Brylcreem has no alcohol and is moisturizing with a great scent.  Typically even if I didn't use any of these other products to cover the scent the scent of the apple cider vinegar disappears once the hair is dry.  The only time it may slightly come back is if you get caught in the rain.  The water tends to reactivate the scent for a short period of time.  

HD-Susan said:

Thanks for sharing your process Avidtrainer! It's always good to hear what works for others. :)

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merisatje said:

We have really hard water where we live, and the climate is hot and very dry.  My hair systems were starting to look like straw, regular conditioning did nothing to help.  I contacted my former hairdresser (in another state) and he told me he had good success with Sukesha clarifying shampoo.  I couldn't find that anywhere, but did buy a thick, clarifying conditioner on Amazon.  Believe it or not, using it only every 6 months has restored the pliability (if that's a word) and softness to my hairpieces.  

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