Why does my hair get cleaner when I shower at my friend's house?
April 2, 2014 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Hi. My hair always has felt icky and grimy when showering at home. It's almost like there is a buildup of residue in my hair. I have tried many different shampoos. I showered at my friend's house the other day, and my hair felt clean for the first time in a while. I could literally feel the difference as I shampooed. My hair stayed clean for days, whereas at home I would have to wash it every day. I tried my friend's shampoo at home with the same icky residue feeling, so I know that it is not the shampoo; the only other reason I can think of would be the water. I don't know much about this. Could shower water be an issue, and is there anything I could try to fix the problem?
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Filtered shower head. My (hardcore radical curl-only) hairdresser says it's an absolute must. And I am about ready to believe her, as our water leaves really gross deposits and my hair is acting like it's been tortured.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2014 [8 favorites]

Get a water hardness test kit and test both locations. I'm guessing you have hard water and she doesn't.
posted by erst at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2014 [11 favorites]

If you don't want to actually test your water, check and see if your shower door and/or metal fixtures get hard-to-remove whiteish deposits on them. If so, you probably have hard water. Also, you can test how well soap foams up in your water vs. your friend's water - soap foams less in hard water.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:23 PM on April 2, 2014

It could absolutely be the water. I grew up with very hard well water and my hair never felt clean. City water was better. My current house has a whole-house filter (thank you, prior owner with water quality paranoia) and it's even better. My mom has city water now but comments on how soft my water is after just washing her hands.

Does your water come from a different source than your friend's water, or does she have a filter?

The suggestion above for a filtered shower head could definitely help.
posted by thejanna at 12:24 PM on April 2, 2014

Yeah, ask your friend if they have a water softener.
posted by theora55 at 12:37 PM on April 2, 2014

Nthing the showerhead filter thingy. Works wonders. You'll feel the difference in your skin, too.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:38 PM on April 2, 2014

Thanks, I think I'll try the showerhead out. I just spoke with my friend, who apparently does not own a water softener. Also, my friend lives in the same suburb so I assume the water is coming from the same source. But I washed the exact same way I usually wash with the same shampoo and it wasn't a subtle difference - it was night and day - so it's got to be the water. I showered at my friend's place two times just to be sure. All I can think of is that my friend's house is VERY new while my house is VERY old. Maybe it's the pipes? :(
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 12:52 PM on April 2, 2014

It could definately be the pipes. Older homes are usually plumbed with galvinized steel lines. Over time the galvinized part wears out and they also clog up with mineral deposits. Either one of these could be leaching into the water making it hard. New houses are plumbed with PEX or copper usually (depends on price, copper is many times the price of PEX).

More likely, however, is the water heater. Do you have an old water heater? over time they build up with a truly disgusting mixture of 'scale' (this is a mix of corrosion and hard water deposits in the water heater). This is more likely the cause. If possible wash your hair at your house in cold water (like in the sink so you don't have to endure a cold shower...unless you like that kind of thing) to determine if it is a whole house problem or a hot water problem.

BTW if possible get a tankless hot water heater if that is how you want to resolve this problem.
posted by bartonlong at 1:31 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Could be free minerals in your water heater. We just replaced our sacrificial anode because the water started smelling bad. Our magnesium anode was almost entirely eaten through due to the galvanic effect of the water on the copper plumbing and steel heater.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:31 PM on April 2, 2014

Hard water or a lot of iron in the water. At my mom's house with well water, my hair never feels clean. After a while, my bleached-blonde hair started turning orange in the back from the iron. A water softener and iron filter should help.
posted by catatethebird at 1:44 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

It must be the water (or the pipes). Whenever I travel to other parts of the world or country I'm shocked at how good my hair can look. Here it always feels sticky and gross even as I'm washing it. It depends also on the roughness of your cuticle. I have very course hair so all the minerals in the water here just stick to my hair. I suggest getting a shower filter. They sell them on amazon.
posted by Blitz at 1:45 PM on April 2, 2014

She might have better water pressure at her place.
posted by brujita at 2:04 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ask your immediate neighbours if they have water softeners and/or whether they have noticed problems with the water.
posted by epo at 1:10 AM on April 3, 2014

It's an old house problem. I learned this from my awesome hairdresser. Old plumbing in old houses = lots of minerals in the water, which then build up on your hair. She suggested washing my hair with a handful of baking soda + shampoo once in a while to get rid of the buildup. A filter on the showerhead could help, too.
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 4:14 PM on April 3, 2014

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