Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Though it lives on the outside serving as a protective barrier, it’s still connected to every other organ system. Skin is semi-permeable, meaning it’s not a perfect barrier. Skin breathes, skin absorbs, and skin secretes. The epidermis comprises seven layers of distinct cell types, each of them responding to the external environment by intaking and digesting what it touches, then transferring and communicating to the rest of you underneath.
Even if you’re the cleanest meal planner on the planet, what you absorb on the surface gets pulled into the bloodstream to affect everything from hair and nail growth to immunity, inflammation, hormones, nutrient assimilation, pH balance… the whole shebang. Choosing organic, plant-based lotions, bath products, and detergents or mineral-based cosmetics are a step in the right direction, but the biggest threat that sneaks its way under your skin could be in the water.
What to Know About Shower Water
If it’s been a couple months since you scrubbed out your shower, take a look at the chalky, white deposits clouding the surface of your fixtures and grout. That residue is a dead giveaway for calcified chlorine and lime, also known as hard water. The truth is, this stuff isn’t just accumulating behind the bath curtain. It soaks into the scalp, damaging follicles and causing hair loss, thinning, breakage, and dandruff. If you’ve ever brushed out your locks post-shower and seen the sizable nest of strands caught in the bristles, you know what we’re talking about. The stress hard water causes to hair is on par with having it color treated. And it’s worse if the water is hot. Heated shower water is a double edged sword. The high temperature loosens and leeches metallic toxins from the pipes and fixtures, delivering it downstream onto your head. The warmth dilates pores, opening your skin up for more water to be absorbed. Depending on the state of your plumbing, you could be instantly pulling pipe debris in your blood. Even in mild cases this results in dry, ashy skin, acne, and feelings of thirst after bathing.
What to Do for Healthier Hair
Get a Shower Head Filter
Very few of us have the means to gut our entire plumbing system, but even those who rent or live with family can easily order and install a shower head filter. Most remove chlorine, lead, and mercury. Some, like this one from AquaBliss, remineralize as they filter. But all will dramatically improve your bathing experience.
Wash, RINSE, Repeat
If you’re forced to wash your hair in hard water, a quick rinse with apple cider vinegar or even filtered bottled water can help reduce mineral buildup in your hair or scalp. Simply mix one tablespoon of apple cider or plain white vinegar with three cups of clean water and rinse once a week.
Choose the Right Products
Because each of us has a unique combination of settings, strengths, and weaknesses both in our genetics and our dwelling spaces, investing in a personally-formulated shampoo and conditioner treatment could be the game changer of your dreams. Brands like Prose specialize in creating tailor-made hair care just for you. An online quiz is all it takes to sort out your particular needs. Prose even notes the weather trends of your zip code to ensure you have a good hair day rain or shine.
If you’re concerned about potential hair damage or dryness from what’s coming from your spout, make some small tweaks and see if you notice any difference. Our showers are our sanctuaries; we should all be stepping out with our heads held high!