If you’re anything like me, you’re a bit of an over-packer when it comes to traveling. Even if I know exactly where I’m going and what the weather will be like, you can count on me being that person in the airport begging the flight attendant to check my overweight luggage. But one thing I can’t count on when traveling? My hair.
Everywhere I go it’s like rolling the dice to determine what my hair will be like. Will it be frizzy? Will it be soft? Greasy? Brassy? Smell like metal? I never know until the first shower.
Being the over-packer that I am, I never travel without my tried and true hair care routine. Shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and de-frizz serum – the perfect potion to controlled hair. Right? Wrong.
After one too many hotel room freakouts over the condition of my curls, I decided to do some research and get to the bottom of this mysterious hair horror story.
One quick Google search and I learned that tap water contents and quality across the United States can vary drastically depending on where you are. It usually has to do with the condition of the source water from where it’s taken from and the treatment that it’s given.
All tap water in the US has to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, but unfortunately, it’s not as regulated as we think. Although our water supplies are considered to be among the safest in the world, more and more contamination is occurring on a daily basis.
A huge part of this contamination can come from sewage releases, naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, local land practices like fertilizers and pesticides, manufacturing processes, and malfunctioning septic systems.
All of these newfound facts lead me to the topic of hard water and why my hair is never the same when traveling. Hard water contains a buildup of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. This produces a film on the hair, making it difficult for moisture to hydrate through. The result: dry hair that’s prone to breakage. Even worse, long-term exposure could even lead to hair loss. Talk about scary.
It didn’t even matter that I was using my fancy haircare routine, nothing was going to save my strands if the water I was showering in was filled with toxic chemicals. This wake-up call really got me thinking: how was I supposed to know if the water I was showering in was safe?
If my water was making my hair feel weak, I couldn’t imagine the toll it was taking on my skin. And what if my shower water at home was just as bad and I was simply used to the feeling? My hair probably adapted to the chemicals over the years, and the haircare routine I had created was really just trying to fix the issues the water was causing, rather than maintain healthy hair to begin with. Honestly, I was probably wasting countless dollars on a routine that I might not have even needed if I had known what was in my water from the start.
Instead of continuing to live in denial and hope that my daily showers weren’t destroying my outer layer, I decided to get to the bottom of my water quality for good. Luckily, I found a free water report that tells you exactly what kind of junk is in your local water sources. I plugged in my zip code, and O…M…G…how did I go this long without knowing? My local water sources have arsenic, nitrate and nitrite, chromium (hexavalent), radium, and 1,4-dioxane. I wasn’t even sure what those names were, but I was terrified.
With a little further digging, I learned that long term exposure to arsenic can eventually cause cancer and other diseases, nitrates are a product of animal and human waste decomposition, chromium is a chemical used in industrial products that can cause skin reactions, 1 in 10,000 people would develop cancer over a lifetime caused by radium, and 1,4-dioxane is another potential cancer-causer found in groundwater throughout the United States.
So…if you haven’t guessed already, I was pretty unsettled after finding all of that out. I was so worried about the condition of my hair and the right products I should be using, but at the end of the day, none of that really matters if the water that you’re showering in is filled with toxic chemicals and minerals.
If you’re ready to finally learn what’s in your local shower water too, you can get a free local water report here and discover the chemicals that might be doing more than just making your hair frizzy.