Is Hard Water Ruining Your Hair Color Services?

If you have struggled to achieve the perfect color results in your salon, it may not necessarily be the fault of you or your color manufacturer. The hidden culprit behind many color services that soon fade or become discolored can be attributed to hard water. Hard water effects on hair – meaning water that is mineral-laden – can be very problematic for Hair Stylists.

How does hard water affect hair?

It is estimated that 85% of Americans have hard water in their home.

The degree of hardness varies by geographical location, but those with extremely hard water are more prone to hair discoloration both at the salon and at home. As a Hair Stylist, you’ve probably experienced that horrible moment when a client comes back to complain about their hair color. Whether it appears faded, looks dull, has inaccurate color results, or feels dry and brittle – many of these complaints can be traced back to hard water.

Hard water creates a scaly film on the hair, preventing it from absorbing moisture and retaining color. Minerals like calcium, copper, and magnesium bond strongly to the hair, weighing it down. And when combined with hair care products like shampoo, the hair looks super dull, coarse, and frizzy.

U.S. Hard Water Concentration Levels


As an educated Hair Stylist, hard water challenges are both a responsibility and an opportunity. While it’s your responsibility to conduct a thorough consultation (including the topic of hard water), it’s also an opportunity to create an additional item on your service menu, as well as a time to educate your client on the necessity of de-mineralizing the hair prior to a service.Hard water contains a large amount of minerals, calcium, and magnesium being the most problematic, as well as chlorine, which levels vary from state to state. While it may not be harmful to your health, hard water can add build up on the hair and scalp. Build up on the hair can leave it feeling dry and weighed down. It can even cause perms to relax.

The scalp can be also be adversely affected by hard water by getting dry and flakey, or as we know it, dandruff. It can also clog the hair at the mouth of the follicle, causing the hair to break off. It can also coat the scalp, blocking further hair growth.

How do you remove hard water minerals from hair?

As stylists, you will find the most resistant area being at the top of the head and crown, due to hot water exposure during showers. While under hot water, the heat will open up the cuticle allowing the minerals to further penetrate the hair. As we now know, the minerals that have penetrated and coated the hair can be at the root of our problems in the salon.

However, there is a solution to the battle between hair color and hard water:

  1. Remove those nasty minerals prior to your color application! One way to do this is with a mineral removal treatment like Malibu Crystal Gel. Treating the hair prior to a service will restore the life of the hair, and most importantly, prep it for an optimal color application. This pre-treatment will also leave the hair full of body, bounce and ready to accept the salon service by normalizing the hair’s PH and exfoliate the scalp, removing all minerals to ensure superior salon results.
  2. Follow with Oway Htech Pre-Color Clarifying Shampoo to wash off the Malibu Crystal Gel and remove impurities and mineral residues remaining on the hair. It also prepares the hair for technical services like hair coloring by softening tightly packed grey cuticle scales for optimal color penetration and coverage.
  3. If you’re doing lightening and toning, be sure to use Oway Hbalance Post-Color Neutralizing Shampoo to rebalance the hair’s pH and neutralize remaining alkaline deposits.
  4. Then, apply Oway Hmilk No-Stress for about 2-3 minutes to condition the hair and prolong toner life.
  5. End the service with Oway Hbalance Post-Color pH Mask to restore the hair’s correct pH levels and seal the cuticle to lock in color and shine.

We highly recommend offering this service in your salon especially after the warm summer months when many have been exposed to elements at the pool and beach.

Keep in mind, it is not about good water or bad water.

Some of the best drinking water can be the worse for the hair. So defeat these challenges your water presents by pumping up your services and priming the hair for soft, beautiful, superior color absorption and coverage with a demineralizing product.

Oway's organic color system is a complete service system for professional hair stylists to achieve outstanding hair color results.