Hair and Hard Well Water

Woman with dull hair
Photo: Glovatskiy/Shutterstock
Q: We have extremely hard well water and are in the process of fixing that problem by adding piping to hook into our city water which is a lot softer and very good. My problem is my hair has turned very brassy looking due to all the iron in our water. My hair is dull, unmanageable, and awful-looking. I wear it up all the time because I hate it so bad. The color is embarrassing.
I tried having a professional hairdresser color it, it didn't do a thing and it cost me $75! I can't really do a lot now until my water situation is better, but what are some steps I can take to fix my hair afterward? Are there any shampoos or treatments that I should go through? I want my color back. I am brunette. I want this crappy red/orange tint to be gone. My self-esteem is shot due to this mess. I hate my hair so bad. Thank you for your time.

A: Well, most of the experts agree that one of the best ways to deal with the problems hard water causes in the hair is to use a clarifying shampoo to help strip away the metallic deposits left in your hair by the hard water.
As to the issue of the hard water itself, you can find water conditioner additives that can be added to the hard water which will bind the minerals and keep them from being deposited on your hair, laundry, etc. This type of water conditioner is a "non-precipitating" conditioner.
There are a number of bath salts and bath products that contain water conditioners. Not only do the non-precipitating water conditioners help soften the water, but they also make your skin and hair feel soft as well.
Given that you've been dealing with hard water for some time, you may need to make sure to condition your hair very thoroughly - particularly if you use the clarifying shampoo. Hard water not only leaves mineral deposits in the hair, but it is also preventing the penetration and absorption of moisture.
As to the red/orange tint to your hair currently, this can be minimized by using a blueing shampoo, such as the kind used by women with gray and light blonde hair to prevent brassiness and yellowing.
Once you've managed to negate the hard water effects, your hair should respond better to the hair color treatments. I am terribly sorry to hear of the bad experience at the hairdresser, and I'm surprised that you were charged the full cost for the service when there were no results, especially if you explained to the stylist that you were having hard water issues.
Personally, I never charge full rates for services that don't take. I usually restrict it to the cost of supplies, especially when I have been told of an issue that has to be taken into account in order to ensure good results.
See also:
Hard water hair
Clarifying shampoo and color treated hair
Highlights, well water and brassy hair
Well water and hair problems