When we moved last summer, we moved into a house with well water. This was going to be the first time I lived in a place with a well. Prior to that, we were on city water.
My only other experience with well water was at my parents’ lake house in Wisconsin, but that was never a place I permanently lived so I didn’t spend a great deal of time focusing on it.
I did, though, always hate how my hair felt and styled when I would stay at my folks’ place. And in fact, my sister got married there so we actually washed her hair with purified bottled water for her wedding day in order to make sure it wasn’t too weighed down or “soft” from the well water!
When we moved into our house last year, I anticipated having to adjust my hair care routine in order to compensate for the completely different water I was going to be using. We’re going on nearly a year of residing here, so I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve learned in case you are in this situation as well!
Why is well water perceived as bad?
Well water in itself isn’t bad, but for the sake of this post, I’m focusing on well water in regards to washing your hair. Generally, city water is more filtered than well water, so when it comes to washing, styling, or maintaining hair color, well water can dramatically affect it.
What negatively happens to hair when washed with well water?
For most people, any lighter hair color (anywhere from the lightest blonde to even the lightest brown) can develop a yellowish, brassy tint from well water. This is generally an undesired tone on most, so it’s important to talk to your stylist about how to combat this at home. There are hair color toners that help counteract the brassiness, or even full shampoo and conditioner sets designed to cut yellow tones. One of my favorite products to use are the IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-in Blonde drops.
Well water can also make your hair feel heavy like there is a layer of extra *stuff* on it. A good purifying shampoo will help remove extra chemical build-up, but make sure you choose one that isn’t too harsh on any coloring you do to your hair. Drybar On the Rocks Clarifying shampoo won’t strip hair color and is a gentle clarifying option. Virtue Refresh Purifying shampoo is another great option that always makes my hair feel lighter than air!
Well water can also make your hair overly dry or coarse because it tricks you into over-rinsing. When you’re rinsing the conditioner out of your hair, it’s ideal to leave a tiny bit behind to “coat” the hair with the product. With well water, it feels like you need to keep rinsing since the water can sometimes feel slimy (this can be tweaked with a water softener) but you will actually rinse out too much.
What have I had success with?
I bought a $35 shower head filter that attaches right on to the pipe coming out from the wall. I noticed a very quick difference in how smooth my hair felt. I also noticed less frizz! My hair still felt a little weighed down but in general, I would say that the shower head makes a noticeable difference!
Using a purifying or clarifying shampoo at least once a week has made a difference in the “lightness” (as in volume, not color) of my hair. I also alternate between using a volumizing shampoo and a purple shampoo. The volumizing shampoo would be my choice if I had city water, but the purple shampoo helps cut brassiness.
When I’m able, I wash my hair at the gym. Even occasionally washing my hair with city water helps prevent the build-up from coming back. Before Coronavirus happened I was washing my hair at the gym twice a week. Since I haven’t been to the gym, I’ve just been washing at home and that’s been fine. I do miss the clean feeling I get from washing with city water though!
If I could choose, I would love to still be using city water, but since that isn’t an option, I’m making do with what I’ve got.