Article 24

How types of water impact skin health 

When it comes to water, its quality can have a significant impact on skin health, whether you're bathing in sea water, chlorinated water, or simply tap water at home.

Each type of water has its own unique properties that can affect the skin in different ways.  

Tap water & hard water   

Depending on location, tap water aims to be completely safe to drink and bathe in. This is partly due to the minerals and chemicals added to it to ensure it can meet tap water guidelines.

In comparison to regular tap water, hard water contains much higher levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Typically, hard water occurs in areas that use groundwater as a source due to the water moving through rock and soil and dissolving small amounts of naturally occurring minerals along the way. This can result in a buildup of these minerals, causing soap scale residue in the shower, glasses becoming less crystal clear and the potential for seeing adverse effects on the skin and hair after an extended period of time.   

While these minerals are not harmful to the body, they can affect the skin. The same chemicals that are causing this limescale buildup on other surfaces, are also getting left on our skin when we bathe which can lead to clogged pores.

This can be especially problematic for people with acne-prone skin or other sensitive skin conditions. It can also make it difficult for soaps and shampoos to lather, which can lead to a buildup of product on the skin. In addition, the metals in the water can promote more free radical behaviour, further weakening the skin barrier. With regular use, hard water can also leave your skin feeling dry and potentially irritated, as it strips away the natural moisture from the skin.

The most effective way of combating the effects of hard water is to use a water softening shower head. You should be able to find these at your local hardware store and they use a replaceable filter system to purify the water. To combat the drying effect of hard water, be sure to moisturise as soon as you have showered or washed your face. If you have particularly acne-prone skin, an alternative to a water softening showerhead could also be to try using a non-alcohol toner after cleansing to remove any traces of minerals left on the skin.  

Chlorinated water  

Taking a refreshing dip in the pool is a quintessential summer activity, however chlorine, the guardian against harmful bacteria in pool water, doubles as a culprit for stripping the skin of its natural oils. When chlorine is left on the skin it can lead to dryness, itching, and irritation. This can be especially problematic for people with sensitive skin and those prone to eczema, or other skin conditions.

Chlorine can have similar effects on the hair, causing it to become dry and brittle, leading to breakage and split ends. The most effective way to combat the effects of chlorinated water is to have a quick rinse in a lukewarm shower (to prevent pores opening and absorbing chlorine) after swimming.  

Sea water  

Sea water is a trove for minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, each carrying its potential set of skin benefits. These minerals can contribute to skin hydration, inflammation reduction, and support the skin's healing processes. However, while sea water’s high salt content can act as a natural exfoliant, providing the gentle removal of dead skin cells, overexposure also has the potential to strip the skin of its natural oils.

This can induce dryness, and in turn, lead to irritation and flakiness. Balance is the key to enjoying the benefits of sea water without compromising skin health as well as replenishing your skin’s hydration with a nourishing moisturiser morning and evening. 

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