It is no secret that calcium is vital for bone health and general wellbeing. The mineral occurs naturally in many foods but it is also present in water. Too much calcium can lead to hard water and this in turn causes calcium build up in our hair.
In this article, I’ll tell you exactly how to spot if you are suffering from calcium overload and the very easy ways to fix it.
Calcium build-up in hair is caused by water that has a high mineral content. The excessive amount of calcium attaches itself to the scalp causing blocked hair follicles and produces a white material not unlike dandruff.
To get rid of calcium build up you have to look at external factors such as better haircare as well as internal factors such as diet.
You might be surprised to know that calcium build-up is a problem for many of us who strive for soft shiny hair.
In fact, according to Thames Water, more than 60% of the UK’s population live in hard water areas and in the US, that number is as high as 85%.
What Is Calcium?
Calcium is an important nutrient that all human beings need. It is one of the most important minerals for optimal bone health.
99% of calcium in the human body is contained within our bones and teeth but also contributes to muscle movement.
Calcium also helps maintain cognitive communication between the brain and the body and cardiovascular function.
We get our calcium from many foods where it occurs naturally but the mineral is also available as a supplement if needed.
Of course, calcium can also be found in our undergrown water supply alongside many other minerals such as iron and zinc.
Is There Too Much Calcium In My Water?
Although we need calcium for our health, too much of the mineral can cause problems. One of these problems is limescale. You may know limescale from the hard white bits that accumulate around your bath and sinks.
Limescale is caused by excess calcium and is often the by-product of hard water, meaning water with a high mineral content.
The best way to check if you live in a hard water area is to look at hard water maps provided by your water supplier.
Here is the hard water map for the UK provided by aquacure.co.uk
Here is the hard water map for the US provided by homewater101.com
Why Does Calcium Cause Hair Build-Up?
Just like with limescale, calcium can also leave behind some unwanted white flakes on your scalp. This can happen with many other things such as using too much hair product, oil or even dead skin.
The reason that calcium causes build-up on your hair is down to a reaction that occurs between the calcium and the fatty acids in your shampoo.
This creates a white substance called soap scum and is insoluble in water. This makes it hard to remove and if left to fester, can cause bacterial growth.
How To Spot Calcium Build-Up In Hair
First thing first, check the hard water map above for your area. If you suspect you live in a hard water area and have two or more of the symptoms below, you may be suffering from calcium build up in your hair:
Weak Hair or Hair Loss
Too much calcium in your water can lead to something called scalp calcification. Unfortunately scalp calcification has been known to cause hair loss and should therefore be taken seriously.
What happens with calcium overload is that the blood vessels that sit underneath your hair follicles store calcium within their walls.
This in turn cause the blood vessels to become stiff and decreasing the blood flow.
As a result of reduced blood flow, the hair follicles do not get the number of nutrients they need which causes the hair follicles to become weak and even die. This is then the cause of hair loss.
White Flakes On Scalp
You are probably no stranger to dandruff but excessive calcium in your water can also cause a white layer of build-up on the scalp.
This build-up is caused by the heating of calcium. It follows the same logic as with limescale.
When you take a warm shower, your bath or shower cubicle becomes wet. Once it dries, the water has evaporated but traces of calcium can be found and with time, leads to the build-up of limescale.
After washing your hair with calcium-rich water, the same happens. The water has evaporated but the calcium forms a white layer of dandruff-like build-up on your scalp.
Shampoo Doesn’t Work
If your shampoo has stopped working there is a good chance that something in your water is the main cause.
Regular shampoos contain sulphates which is a strong cleansing agent and these should get rid of most dirt and grime.
If this isn’t the case with your shampoo, your hair might feel like it is coated by a layer of film or your scalp feels greasy even after a thorough shampoo.
Brittle hair can be caused by many things and it isn’t necessarily due to calcium overload.
However, if you are also experiencing a thin layer of white build-up on your scalp, this may be due to excessive calcium blocking your hair follicles.
As mentioned above, this can lead to weak and brittle hair which has lost its shine.
In worst cases, calcium build-up can lead to bacterial infections on your scalp and hair. This is because the residue left behind from the mineral may cause blockage in your hair follicles.
If your hair follicles are unable to receive oxygen and adequate blood flow, it might cause itching and inflammation.
How To Fix Calcium Build-Up In Your Hair
Although you cannot change the hardness of the water in your area, there are quite a few things you can do to fix calcium build-up in your hair.
1 Install A Shower Head Filter
A very simple solution would be to install a shower head filter to remove minerals from the water.
These types of water filters are also more environmentally friendly as they save up to 50% of water usage while showering.
This Ionic Shower Head which you can get from Amazon contains mineral beads which help filter more than 30 mineralized substances, such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium from the water. For less than £15 it’s a fantastic solution if you are experiencing hard water issues.
2 Improve Your Hair Care Routine
If suffering from calcium build-up, you may be tempted to buy stronger hair products to remove the soap scum remnants.
This is not recommended as shampoos which contain harsh cleansing ingredients such as sulphates actually strip your hair of its natural oils.
Sulphate can also irritate your scalp and cause irritation. Furthermore, these harsh chemicals are not very environmentally friendly as they are infiltrated into the general water supply.
Instead, focus on improving your own hair care routine:
Use a scalp brush
Instead of scraping your scalp with your fingernails which could cause irritation, invest in a cheap scalp brush such as this one from Amazon to do the job.
Simply massage your scalp for 1-2 minutes and rinse off shampoo. This way you can keep your scalp free from build-up which won’t clog your hair follicles.
Apple cider vinegar rinse
If you have curly hair and follow the Curly Girl Method, you’re probably very familiar with the ACV rinse.
Apple cider vinegar has amazing antibacterial and antifungal properties and works great as a natural cleanser. A mixture of half a cup of apple cider vinegar and one cup of water is enough to cover the entire of your hair. Simply wet your hair and add the mixture on top. Use the scalp brush to really work the ACV into your scalp.
An ACV rinse can help rebalance the natural PH levels of your scalp which in turn promotes hair growth.
If you don’t have ACV at hand, you can use an old fashioned lemon. Simply squeeze half a lemon into your regular shampoo and massage your scalp for a few minutes.
The natural acidic properties of the lemon will help remove limescale and calcium build-up from your hair.
Weekly Deep Conditioning Treatment
If your hair has suffered through hard water, it would be a good idea to restore shine and health with a weekly deep condition.
If your hair feels dry and straw-like, try the Shea Moisture Superfruit 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque. It’s great for all hair types and free from sulphates, parabens and silicones.
This is a really popular har mask and remember, a little goes a long way.
On the other hand, if your hair is soft but limp, you may be suffering from hygral fatigue.
Hygral fatigue happens when too much moister penetrates the hair strands causing them to repeatedly swell and deflate.
This, in turn, causes your hair to become weak, stretched and limp. If this is the case, try the Mielle Organics Babassu Oil Mint Deep Conditioner which contains complex amino acids from wheat, soy and other natural ingredients to help revitalise your hair.
3 Focus On Nutrition
A good way to reduce calcium build-up is not necessarily through your hair, but through your stomach. Try foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants such as magnesium and K2.
Known to help reduce calcification, magnesium should be a staple supplement in your diet. To ensure you are getting enough magnesium, try adding these foods to meals:
- Nuts and seeds
- Dry beans
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
- Low fat dairy products
Vitamin K2 has also been known to regulate the amount of calcium we have in our bodies.
According to a study published the NCBI, vitamin K2 prevents blood vessel calcification which is also seen in scalp calcification (causing lack of nutrients to hair follicles).
To make sure you get enough K2 vitamin, try adding the following to your diet:
- Grass-fed butter
4 Wash Hair Less Frequently
It sounds simple, but washing your hair less frequent will limit the amount of calcium build-up in your hair. Furthermore, washing your hair frequently actually encourages your scalp to produce more oils.
This is turn will cause your hair to go greasy quicker. Try using a dry shampoo a few times a week to limit your washing.