What's In Your Water? How Chlorine, Calcium & Hard Water Minerals Affect Sensitive Skin by 30Seconds Health
If you have sensitive skin, you’ll know that almost anything can trigger it, from your diet to the products you use. But did you know that your own water supply might be the culprit?
Chlorine is commonly used to provide homes with water that is free from dangerous pathogens. While this does make it safe to drink and bathe in, prolonged exposure to chlorine can be bad for your skin. The majority of U.S. homes have hard water, meaning it is high in minerals, which can be equally harsh on your epidermis. Let’s take a closer look at how these water impurities can affect sensitive skin and what can be done to counter the effects.
We’ve all had that tight feeling after a long day in the swimming pool, likely coupled with itchy eyes and dry hair. You may even smell of the pool long after showering. This is because the chlorine in the water strips your skin’s protective sebum layer, allowing moisture to escape. The results are dryness, itchiness and maybe even outbreaks of existing skin conditions, especially if you are hypersensitive.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, skin sensitivity to chlorine can present the following symptoms:
- Skin redness, tenderness, inflammation and/or itchiness at the site of contact.
- Skin lesions or rash.
- Scales or crust on the skin.
But the concentration of chlorine in your tap water is much lower than that in a swimming pool, right? So it shouldn’t be a problem? Wrong! The amount of chlorine in your tap water can be on par with the concentrations recommended for public pools. Furthermore, chlorine can chemically bind to your skin and hair so that it just won’t rinse off (hence that smell that follows you) and continues to affect your skin long after the initial contact. So what can we do to combat chlorine?
Filtering chlorine out of your water supply is the most straightforward way to go about things, and there are several options available. While whole-house water filtration systems are more effective and can remove chlorine from both your drinking and your bathing water, they are also more costly. On the other hand, shower-head filters can be easily installed and will remove chlorine along with a bunch of other contaminants, depending on the filter type.
Boiling or Evaporation
There’s no need to go all out on a filtration system in order to protect your sensitive skin, if you don’t want to. Removing chlorine from water can actually be as simple as boiling it for 20 minutes or giving it 24 hours to evaporate.
Using either of the two methods to de-chlorinate water is simple and free. You can then use the water to wash your face without the risk of irritation.
Rather than preventing chlorine exposure, you could also use products to soothe your skin afterwards. Skin-care products with antioxidants can help to get “stuck on” chlorine and other pollutants off your skin. Get the low down on more ways to de-chlorinate water and the best filters to do so here.
Calcium and Hard Water Culprits
Hard water in the home can cause chaos not only on your skin and hair, but by leaving a limescale trail throughout your house. While the minerals found in hard water (calcium and magnesium) play an important role in overall skin health, when they react with the ingredients in your shower gel they can mess with the chemistry of your skin, drying it out. The high mineral content also makes it much harder to thoroughly rinse off detergents, leaving a buildup of soap residue condemned to clog your skin pores.
Again, you can choose from several water filtration systems for your home, or exclusively for your shower, to remove hard water. Other ways to dodge the negative effects of hard water are:
- Change Your Soap. When hard water reacts with your favorite shampoos or shower gels, they could be forming salts that remain on your skin and unbalance its pH. You can counter this by using a gentle cleanser with a lower pH that is closer to your body’s natural balance.
- Use Bottled Water. By washing your face with bottled water you can avoid your skin coming into contact with hard water entirely, and it’s also great for clearing up skin conditions such as acne.
- Moisturize. Nourishing your skin after each contact with hard water rather than trying to avoid it completely is a perfectly reasonable option. Just make sure to select a moisturizer for dry and sensitive skin and carefully apply it after each wash or bath.
Although our water goes through a series of treatments before reaching our homes, lots of contaminants can still make it through the process, such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and hormones. These can be absorbed by and irritate not just sensitive skin, but contribute to an array of serious health problems and interfere with your hormone balance. In order to effectively remove up to 99 percent of all toxins from water, it is necessary to use an appropriate filter system.
There may be a plethora of hidden contaminants in your water supply that you’ve never given a thought to because they are deemed safe by your supplier. Chlorine and calcium are two of them. They could be wreaking havoc on the biology of your skin. Luckily, there are a variety of methods to deal with them, from simple low-cost solutions to high-end filtration systems.