I moved to a new state, and my hair changed color.
It looked dull and felt dry.
At first, I chalked it up to a change in the climate.
But then I began to notice white residue building up on the shower door and the faucet.
Someone explained to me that all of this was due to hard water.
As soon as I switched to the best shampoo and conditioner for hard water, my hair improved.
It was a cheap and easy fix as I was renting and couldn’t afford to install a water softener.
I thought I’d share my experience in hopes that it helps you, too.
If you’re wondering how you get rid of hard water buildup in your hair, here’s the solution.
What hard water does to hair
Hard water contains minerals and metals that buildup on your strands and scalp (1).
This residue makes it challenging to rinse shampoo from your hair and soap from your body.
It also reduces the amount of lather.
Worse, hard water will fade color-treated hair more quickly. And it may alter your natural color.
But perhaps the worst outcome is drier, brittle locks, and even hair loss.
How shampoos for hard water help your hair
Happily, shampoos for hard water remove the residue.
They neutralize the effects of the dissolved minerals and metals.
They tend to be acidic to compensate for the alkaline nature of hard water.
(That’s why you may see advice telling you to rinse with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.)
Clarifying shampoos restore your hair’s natural color and make it soft and manageable again (2).
Only use a clarifier once a week at the most. Be sure to use a rich conditioner afterward.
But for daily use, choose a gentle hydrating shampoo.
Top Shampoos & Conditioners for Hard Water
Malibu C: Natural Protective Hard Water Wellness Kit
Have you heard about Malibu C shampoo for hard water?
It comes in a kit with daily use conditioner plus deep-conditioning Remedy Packets.
It’s the best way to reclaim the health of your hair.
It eradicates the impurities and toxins that buildup and dull and dry out your hair.
Even after only one treatment, you’ll see the luminosity and softness return.
Moreover, this is a sulfate-free shampoo.
Not every sulfate-free shampoo is suitable for hard water, but this one definitely is.
It’s made for all hair types and adults as well as kids.
Malibu C has been in business in the USA since 1985. Their products are vegan and made without parabens or gluten.
Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo Conditioner Liter Duo
If you don’t need the Remedy Packets to do a hair mask, get this shampoo and conditioner set instead.
Both products have a pleasant scent.
After you wash with them, they don’t just remove hard water buildup. They also repel the damaging minerals.
Feel free to shampoo every day if needed.
Malibu C Blondes Shampoo Conditioner Liter Duo
Whether or not you’re naturally blond, this shampoo and conditioner will protect your beautiful coloring from dulling residue.
It brightens highlights, too.
Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Shampoo & Conditioner Liter Duo
Swimmers know all about how chlorine, saltwater, and hard water can wreck hair.
They need this shampoo and conditioner to remove chlorine, salt, and minerals.
The products prevent tangling and eliminate odor.
ION Hard Water Shampoo & Conditioner Set
ION is another smart choice if you’re going up against hard water in your home.
Their shampoo and conditioner are mild enough for daily washing. Yet it’s powerful enough to fix and defend against discoloration.
The vegan formula improves manageability by moisturizing and healing damage.
Klorane Clarifying Shampoo with Citrus Pulp
One of the best drugstore shampoos for hard water is made by Klorane.
This brand uses natural, plant-based ingredients to cleanse and refresh your scalp and hair.
The shampoo is enriched with citrus pulp that removes residue from normal or oily hair.
It also has antioxidants to repair damage from air pollution, styling products, and hard water.
The formula is free of sulfates and parabens. You only need to use it once a week to benefit from it.
Klorane Vinegar Shine Rinse with Chamomile for Blonde Hair
Klorane’s Vinegar Rinse restores brilliance and brightness to blond hair and blond highlights.
It releases mineral deposits from the hair shaft and scalp. It also prevents static electricity and tangles.
Grapefruit Detox Re-Nutrient Shine Repair Shampoo
LifeLab designed this sulfate-free shampoo to detox your hair and scalp. It’s gentle enough for color-treated hair.
Not only will it reverse hard water damage, but it also removes other impurities from pollution or styling products.
The end result is shiny, bouncy hair.
What’s more, the grapefruit scent is all-natural. It appeals to women and men alike.
And it’s formulated without artificial dyes, parabens, DEA, phthalates, or fragrances.
Grapefruit Detox Re-Nutrient Shine Repair Conditioner
Never skip conditioner when you’re dealing with hard water!
To get the most from the shampoo above, follow up with the companion conditioner.
It ensures a glossy appearance.
Furthermore, it’s made to nourish both your scalp and strands. You don’t need to use it only on the ends, even if you have oily hair.
Lemon Rinse After Conditioner Rinse
For extra-clean, shiny, and manageable hair, finish up with the Lemon Rinse.
It’s pH-balanced to restore moisture and eliminate frizz.
More important, it’s perfect for managing oily hair and scalp. Just use it up to three times per week.
The formula is free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, DEA, artificial fragrances, and dyes.
Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Shampoo
Aveeno is a name brand that many trust. Their apple cider vinegar shampoo doesn’t disappoint.
It’s a clarifying formula that provides a satisfying cleanse for your hair and scalp.
It gets rid of hard water residue and restores shine and bounce.
But don’t worry – it doesn’t smell like vinegar at all. It has a delicious fragrance.
You might be interested to know that it contains oats, just like every other thing they make. The oats come from a small town along the Mississippi River.
Aveeno Scalp Soothing Apple Cider Vinegar Blend Conditioner
Here’s the conditioner for the shampoo above.
I know that people with oily hair, many guys, and those of us in a hurry are tempted to skip the conditioner.
But you wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t want to solve the problem of hard water hurting your hair.
Don’t skip out on an essential weapon in the battle.
Use a conditioner to moisturize and soothe your scalp and tresses.
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo
Neutrogena’s anti-residue shampoo is very potent.
It’s not sulfate-free.
Don’t plan to use it more than once a week. Otherwise, it may dry out your hair worse.
Plus, definitely follow up with a deep conditioner.
It doesn’t just remove hard water residue, it also clears away any other buildup like that of dry shampoo.
Fortunately, it’s safe for color-treated hair when used as directed.
Sun Bum Revitalizing Detox Shampoo
Sun Bum blends apple cider vinegar and blue agave in their Detox Shampoo.
They recommend it as a weekly treatment for all hair types.
It removes chlorine, saltwater, hard water, and other kinds of residue.
Then, it conditions with banana and coconut oil to soften the hair.
It’s a plant-based product that’s free of sulfates, parabens, and animal derivatives.
Sun Bum Revitalizing Conditioner
Apply this conditioner after you shampoo to get UV protection for your hair.
It helps prevent fading in the sunshine. It defends your color, whether or not it’s natural.
Kenra Clarifying Shampoo
When you wash with this product, it’s a chelating shampoo. It’s perfect for people who have hard water or well water in their homes.
It’s a clarifying shampoo with amino acid chelators. These ingredients get rid of hard water deposits and chlorine.
If you have highlighted or gray hair, it will brighten your color.
The formula is color-safe, but it does contain parabens.
Kenra Volumizing Conditioner
I selected the Volumizing version, but Kenra makes more than one kind of conditioner.
Select the one that best meets your needs.
This one adds body and shine to fine hair, plus it reduces frizz.
Joico K-Pak Clarifying Shampoo
Joico’s clarifying shampoo and conditioner is made for swimmers.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s not for you.
It doesn’t just remove chlorine. It also gets rid of mineral residue and leftover mousse, gel, hairspray, and so on.
Blondes take note: if your hair has gone green, these products will restore the color.
UltraSwim Dynamic Duo Repair Shampoo and Conditioner
I added yet another swimmer shampoo because it’s good for hard water.
On the downside, it’s not sulfate-free, and it has parabens.
But on the bright side, one wash will make a noticeable improvement in your hair.
Acure Curiously Clarifying Shampoo With Lemongrass & Argan
For those of you who prefer natural products with fewer chemicals, take a look at Acure’s clarifying shampoo.
It contains lemongrass to sweep away residue.
It’s also sulfate-free and doesn’t have parabens, either.
Acure Lemongrass & Argan Stem Cell Conditioner
The accompanying conditioner detangles and adds luminosity with natural ingredients.
It contains keratin to strengthen brittle hair, too.
Although it’s cruelty-free, it may not be vegan. But it doesn’t contain parabens, phthalates, or sulfates.
Biolage Cleanreset Normalizing Shampoo To Remove Buildup
Biolage caters to color-treated and natural hair no matter what texture you have.
This formula takes care of straight or curly locks alike.
Interestingly, it also contains lemongrass to refresh your scalp.
Follow up with a conditioner like the Hydrosource Detangling Solution.
Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three
Those of you that are familiar with Paul Mitchell products may already know the Shampoo Three.
It cleanses deeply to get rid of hard water, iron, minerals, and chlorine.
Just a little bit goes a long way.
You can also use it every day unless you have color-treated hair.
Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo
It’s hard to resist the exotic fragrance of the Morrocanoil shampoo. It’s a blend of spicy amber and floral notes.
The clarifying formula removes residue and employs chamomile and lavender to calm the scalp.
Then, the formula is packed with keratin, argan, and avocado oil to smooth and soften each strand.
Luckily, it’s free of phosphates, parabens, and sulfates.
Moroccanoil Hydrating Conditioner
It’s hard to believe you need conditioner after you use the ultra-moisturizing clarifying shampoo above.
But this product revives limp hair to add volume and luminosity.
It has linden bud extract that expands the hair cuticle and reduces tangles.
If you don’t need more body, try one of this brand’s other nourishing conditioners.
Ouidad Ultra-Nourishing Cleansing Oil Shampoo
Hard water is especially damaging to oily, kinky, and curly hair.
It steals the moisture and damages the very structure of each strand.
In contrast, Ouidad’s oil shampoo removes residue and revitalizes the curls.
It’s full of nourishing fatty acids that rebuild the hair.
Of course, it’s sulfate-free.
Pantene Rose Water Shampoo and Sulfate-Free Conditioner Kit
Here’s an idea: use a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove residue.
Every other time you wash, however, use a sulfate-free shampoo like this one.
Pantene’s Rose Water is mild enough for chemically-treated and color-treated hair. It doesn’t have sulfates, parabens, artificial dyes, or silicone.
Instead, it’s packed with Provitamin B5 to strengthen the hair naturally.
And the scent is a blend of rose, mint, and lily of the valley.
You can’t help it if you have hard water. Sometimes even a water softener doesn’t completely fix the problem.
But you do have control over which shampoo and conditioner you use.
Use clarifying products to remove hard water buildup and restore moisture and sheen.
Take the time to enjoy a hair mask once in a while to repair dry, damaged hair, too.
Lucky for you, you have a lot of choices. No matter which hair type you have, there’s an answer for hard water.
1. https://www.culligan.com/ca/home/solution-center/resources/effects-of-hard-water-on-hair-and-skin accessed February 7, 2020
2. https://www.glamour.com/story/what-hard-water-does-to-hair-a by Petra Guglielmetti, published November 2, 2015, accessed February 7, 2020