The Many Ways Hard Water Can Affect Skin Health and Appearance

April 28, 2020

Nearly 85 percent of American households are living with the detrimental effects of hard water caused by elevated mineral levels.  If you live in an area prone to hard water, you've likely noticed unsightly spots on your dishes and glassware, scaly buildup on your faucets and fixtures, or stubborn soap residue lingering on your shower door from mineral deposits. Over time, these mineral deposits can cause plumbing problems and damage large appliances.Although hard water is generally considered safe to drink, many people find that the same hard water deposits affecting their home can also have damaging effects on the health and appearance of their skin.

The Correlation Between Hard Water and Skin Health

When groundwater runs through chalk or limestone, it tends to pick up varying amounts of calcium and magnesium. Depending on where you live, your water may also contain aluminum, manganese, or iron. The calcium content in hard water impairs the breakdown of soap, cleansers, shampoo, and detergents. Rather than rinsing away cleanly, a considerable amount of detergent residue can be left behind, potentially irritating your skin and damaging your hair. If you've been washing your clothes, showering, or bathing in hard water, you may recognize some or all of the following issues:

  • Feeling a film-like residue on your skin after showering
  • Accelerated fading of color-treated hair
  • Dull, limp, or straw-like hair
  • An itchy scalp or flaking skin
  • Skin irritation or rashes

If you have hard water, you will also likely find that you need to use considerably more shampoo, soap, or cleansers than specified on product labels to work up a sufficient amount of lather. That means you will go through your favorite products much faster without experiencing many of the results you might have been hoping for.

Skin Concerns Triggered or Aggravated by Hard Water

The same residue that spots your glassware and dulls the shine on your kitchen faucet also forms a similar film on your skin. This film can cause a considerable amount of irritation, dehydration, and damage to otherwise healthy skin. If you are living in an area prone to hard water, you may want to consider how the mineral content of your tap water could be affecting the health and appearance of your skin. Just a few of the many potential consequences can include:

Increased Dryness and Flaking

Healthy skin has an even tone, it maintains smooth texture, and it feels comfortable. The moisture in your skin forms a protective barrier against irritation and infection. Although many people experience bouts of skin dryness in the winter months, a considerable percentage of people who use hard water have dry, flaky skin year-round. That's likely a direct result of trace minerals on the surface of the skin absorbing moisture as lingering soap residues disrupt your skin's natural pH balance. When your skin's protective lipid barrier is disrupted by hard water deposits and soap residue, your skin may feel uncomfortably dry or tight and look parched, even after using a moisturizer.

Blemishes and Breakouts

The pores you see on the surface of your skin are located directly over your sebaceous glands, the oil-producing glands that keep your skin supple. The oil produced in these glands performs another essential function, moving dead skin cells from the lining of your pores to the surface of your skin. When cellular debris and bacteria are trapped in your pores, the bacteria breaking down the trapped oil triggers a response from your immune system. Since the minerals in hard water can change the consistency of the oil produced in your skin from a liquid to a wax, hard water can contribute to clogged pores and breakouts even while using non-comedogenic skincare products intended for blemish-prone skin.

Aggravated Eczema Flares

Eczema is a chronic skin condition triggered by an overactive immune system response. People living with eczema commonly develop patches of dry, itchy skin, uncomfortable rashes, and scaled lesions. Dermatitis, product fragrances, some types of fabrics, and food sensitivities can often trigger symptom flares. Current research shows that people prone to eczema are more susceptible to the drying, irritating effects of hard water because of a specific mutation in the gene that encodes a protein called filaggrin. Investigators believe that magnesium and calcium ions in hard water interact with filaggrin in a way that damages the skin's protective lipid barrier. This reaction leaves people living with eczema more sensitive to the effects of hard water.

Accelerated Signs of Skin Aging

Over time, skin loses some of its ability to rejuvenate and repair. Skin cell turnover slows, pores enlarge, and oil production decreases. Although most of the visible signs of aging are believed to be caused by UV exposure, a considerable amount of evidence suggests that the magnesium and calcium content in hard water produces free radicals that can damage otherwise healthy skin cells and contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin. Since collagen and elastin are essential to skin firmness and elasticity, consistent exposure to hard water can contribute to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.


As hard water plays havoc with your plumbing and leaves unsightly deposits on glassware, the high mineral content can also cause a considerable number of skin concerns. That likely explains why so many people are investing in the health and appearance of their skin by improving the quality of the water in their home with a whole house softening and filtration system. Unfortunately, many homeowners are purchasing undersized units unlikely to meet their needs.  To combat the effects of hard water in Central Texas, contact Jason's Water Systems. Our fully programmable controls allow your water treatment professional to calibrate your system to your specific needs. Plus, Jason's Whole House System offers the only water softener and filtration system on the market certified by WQA as a Whole House Drinking System. That means you won't need a second unit to ensure the quality and purity of the water used for drinking and cooking.Of course, the health and safety of our community is our top priority. Call today for a free water test, a virtual demonstration, or to learn more about our contact-free product installation. We provide water softeners, whole-home filtration units, and reverse osmosis systems for San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, and the surrounding areas.

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