Best Natural Shampoo For Hard Water

We all want to know which shampoo is going to give us healthy, beautiful, and manageable hair for the water we use.

The best natural shampoo for hard water is a wash that does all of the above, but also combats the harm that hard water can do to our hair.

Hard water can make keeping your hair healthy very difficult. Hard water contains minerals that can be harmful to your hair and lead to scalp problems. Traditional shampoos contain chemicals specially designed to remove these minerals. Finding a natural shampoo suitable for your hair that also removes the build-up can also prove problematic.

We all know that moving away from traditional shampoos is the best thing that we can do for our hair.

Hard water makes this process so much more difficult though, but don’t fear as it is possible and I’m going to show you how.

Read on to discover the best natural shampoo for hard water areas.

Best Natural Shampoo For Hard Water

Although it may seem like we have always washed our hair in the same way, with traditional shampoos, in reality, traditional shampoos only came into existence in the 1930s.

Before then, natural products were used to keep our hair clean.

What we now term as traditional shampoos contain synthetic ingredients that are designed to clean more effectively, with as much lather as possible.

This has resulted in many of us now believing that the more a product lathers up, the more it is doing a great job at cleaning our hair.

Realistically, there is no getting away from the fact that traditional shampoos clean our hair effectively.

The problem is that they clean just a little too well; stripping away the natural oils with sulfates. Silicones are then used to make hair look shinier and keep the moisture in.

That sounds wonderful, but the silicones also keep the scalps natural oils from penetrating the hair shaft.

Not only does this mean that your hair cannot get the essential nutrients from your naturally produced scalp sebum, but also that this sebum sits on top of the hair making it look greasy and unkempt.

As a result, you wash your hair more frequently which ends up being a vicious cycle with your hair being continuously dried out by shampoo. The damaged hair is then hidden by silicones, especially those often found in traditional conditioners.

By comparison, natural shampoos are made only from natural products and do not contain sulfates or silicones.

Many natural shampoos are also vegan friendly, but do not contain:

  • Parabens
  • Gluten

These shampoos are growing in popularity with many people now moving over to a healthier hair care regime.

Many natural shampoos contain ingredients that you can find in your own pantry or garden!

In the last few years, commercial natural products have become available, allowing you to more easily use natural shampoos to keep your hair healthy and looking at its best.

Although there are many recipes around for DIY natural shampoos, it is now easier than ever for people to use a natural shampoo over a chemical containing traditional shampoo.

Hard water can be very detrimental to your hair, however, there are natural shampoos that can keep your hair healthy and clean even in hard water areas.

Natural Shampoo Bars

Natural shampoo bars, often containing rosemary, tend to be effective in hard water areas.

Baking Soda Wash With ACV Rinse

If you have encountered a build-up, the baking soda wash with an ACV rinse could make all the difference to your hair.

In fact, using a vinegar or lemon rinse after your regular wash can keep the hard water deposits at bay.

Hard Water Shampoos And Conditioners

Hard water shampoos and conditioners that have been specifically formed to tackle these hard water issues are often difficult to find.

There are however ways to combat the effects of hard water, and successfully use natural products to keep your hair healthy and looking great (sources 1,2,3,4).

Keep reading to find out how…

Transitioning To Natural Shampoo

Transitioning to natural shampoos is easier for some people than others.

Your hair’s ability to transition smoothly will depend upon the following factors:

1. Hair Type

Your hair type plays such an important part in the whole experience.

You need to remember that hard water means that lathering does not happen so easily, and if you are just moving over from traditional shampoos, you may think that the natural wash is not working.

Fine hair can take longer to transition as it is weighed down easily.

2. Curly Hair

This hair type can hide greasiness well so is often an easy transition.

3. Lifestyle

If you exercise or swim regularly it may be more difficult to find natural shampoo for your hair.

This is because you will need to wash your hair more frequently, due to the chemicals used in swimming pools, to keep pools clean.

4. Chosen Shampoo

There are many natural shampoos available, so knowing your hair type and its needs will make the choice of wash easier, therefore keeping the transition period to a minimum.

5. Water Type

The type of water you have will play a big role in impacting your transition experience.

Take a look at the details below to determine what impact your water supply has on your hair:

Soft Water

Soft water can make transitioning easier. This is why many people use distilled water to clean and rinse their hair.

Hard Water

Those of you with hard water will find it a lot more difficult to transition to natural shampoos.

This is because hard water contains many minerals that cause build-up, which has several negative side effects.

a. Minerals

Firstly, like silicones, the minerals in hard water can coat the hair so that it fails to take up any necessary moisture and elements.

Hard water contains minerals, predominantly:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

These minerals build up on the hair and prevent the sebum and additional moisture from penetrating the strand. This can lead to your hair becoming increasingly dry and brittle.

Brittle hair is more likely to break off when brushing.

Another downside of these minerals is that they do not only cover the hair strands, but also the scalp.

Drying out the scalp can lead to hair being shed more frequently and new hair failing to grow as well as it could.

b. Tangled Hair

Hard water can also make it more difficult to detangle your hair. Therefore, you are likely to brush your tangled hair longer and more vigorously.

With the hair being dry and prone to breakage, you are likely to lose even more hair during this process.

c. Dull Hair

Hard water can also lead to dull hair.

Dull, dry hair can also often be hair that has a tendency to frizz.

What Shampoo Is Best If You Have Hard Water

Many people ask what shampoo is best for hard water.

The answer is whatever works for you!

Everyone is an individual, and your hair is as individual as you are. What works well for one person will not necessarily work as well for someone else.

Some readily available shampoos worth trying if you are in a hard water area are these:

1. Yellow Bird Shampoo Bar

I love this shampoo bar because it is silicon and sulphate free.

This natural bar (view on Amazon) also contains Kaolin clay which has been recorded as helping to remove build-up and is good for hard water areas.

The tea-tree element is an added bonus too!

But, if you are not a fan of tea tree then consider giving the peppermint version a try.

2. Ingreendients

Before you wonder, no that isn’t a spelling mistake despite looking like one!

With the addition of apple cider vinegar, this natural shampoo ticks all the boxes.

This natural shampoo is fab because when using hard water, an apple cider vinegar rinse is often used to moisturize and cut through the build-up that hard water brings.

3. Phillip Adam Shampoo

This natural shampoo (view on Amazon) also contains apple cider vinegar (ACV) to fight any build-up.

Unusually for a natural shampoo, it claims that it has a wonderful lather!

Signs Of Hard Water On Hair

Hard water can play havoc with your hair.

Below is a list of common problems that people in hard water areas face:

  • Dull: The calcium and magnesium can build up and leave hair looking dull.
  • Limp: Build-up can weigh hair down, especially fine and straight hair.
  • Dryness: Hard water dries out the hair and impedes the absorption of natural oils and nutrients.
  • Split Ends And Breakage: Hard water often dries the hair strands, leading to breakage and split ends.
  • Frizz: The drying effect of hard water can cause hair to be frizzy.
  • Tangles: Hard water opens the cuticles which mean that your hair tangles more easily.
  • Scalp Problems: The drying effects of hard water can lead to scalp problems, especially if you already have a sensitive scalp. Dandruff can be a resulting factor to have to cope with.
  • Hair Growth: Scalp problems can lead to hair not growing at its usual rate.

These are the main effects of hard water on the hair, though you may experience other problems that can be remedied by removing hard water use.

The good thing is that our hair is always growing, and is open to any changes that we can make.

Therefore, it will not take too long to turn your hair around, from limp and dull and weighed down, to healthy, shiny, and voluminous.

All it takes is to find the right product for your hair to work in the environment in which you live (source 1).

How To Protect Hair From Hard Water Naturally

One of the main problems with hard water is the build up that stops moisture entering the hair shaft.

If you want to protect your hair from hard water, then using a pre poo mask before washing can ensure that the hair receives all the nutrients it needs to remain healthy.

One of the most well-liked methods for those with hard water is to use an apple cider vinegar rinse or a lemon rinse to restore the pH balance and remove the chemical build-up.

The acid effectively neutralizes the minerals in the hard water and stops/reduces the likelihood of build-up.

It is the build-up that causes the problems as no nourishment or moisture can enter the hair.

Apple cider vinegar for hard water hair problems is not always the answer though.

Used too regularly, or in too high a dilution, then it can unbalance the pH and damage the hair further.

These are the main ways to naturally protect your hair from hard water:

  • Pre-Poo: Nourish and moisturize your hair before you wash it.
  • Oil: A leave-in oil treatment will help your hair (argan oil is great for this).
  • ACV/Lemon Rinse: Use either of these as a rinse after washing. Remember to dilute these acids suitably so as not to cause further damage to your hair.
  • Brush: Using a wooden brush will help to break down and remove any build-up which will allow more nutrients to be absorbed.
  • Neem Water: Boil a couple of neem leaves in water, allow to cool and use this water for washing your hair.
  • Rain Water: Most of the minerals enter the water as it percolates through the ground. Rainwater tends to be softer and can be better for your hair than hard water.
  • Shower Water Softener: Adding a water softener can help remove the problematic minerals and allow your hair to become as healthy as it can be

Whilst fitting a softener and rinsing with mineral water, or other methods, can lessen the impact of hard water, they will only limit the damage rather than stop it completely (source 1).

How To Reverse The Effects Of Hard Water On Hair

The negative effects of hard water on your hair can be reversed with time.

Below are several ways to achieve this:

1. Stop Using Hard Water

This is the easiest way, but arguably also the hardest as it is easier said than done.

Fitting a water filter/softener to your house system is by far the best method, and you will notice the benefits all over your house, from washing your hair and clothes, to general cleaning.

Even your morning tea or coffee will taste more pleasant!

However, this is a very expensive option that is out of reach of a lot of people.

Alternatively, fitting a filter/softener to your shower head will help when washing your hair.

You will probably find that you recoup the cost over the long term as with softer water your washes will lather more, and you will use less product, making it last longer between shopping trips.

2. Clarifying Shampoo

Using a natural clarifying shampoo will remove the worst of the build-up from your hair and scalp.

This will allow your natural sebum to enter the hair shaft, nourishing as it goes.

Without the build-up on your scalp, you may notice that your hair grows better and you are less likely to suffer from scalp problems.

3. Rinse

Using either an ACV or lemon rinse after your wash will help to stop the harmful effects of the hard water.

4. Oil

If you follow up the rinse with a hot oil treatment your hair should recover from the harmful effects of hard water in time.


The main problem with hard water for your hair is the build up of minerals.

So how do I get rid of hard water build-up in my hair?

Using any of the above methods will help to remove the build-up and reduce the speed of the potential build-up afterward.

You could also try the following:

  • Distilled Water: Wash your hair in distilled water, or at the very least use this for the final rinse.
  • Neem Water: Soak your hair in neem water (distilled will also work) before you wash with your normal hard water. This will ensure that your hair does not soak up as much of the hard water during the wash process, reducing any build-up that might occur.
  • Clay: Wash your hair with a clay product. These often both remove the present build-up, but also reduce the build-up during the wash

Rest assured though that hard water damage is reversible, and that there are ways to use natural shampoos and not suffer damaged and dull hair simply because of the water in your area.

Homemade Shampoo For Hard Water

It is not always necessary to buy a commercial or traditional shampoo to combat the damage of hard water to your hair.

There are recipes that you can make at home relatively easily which will help keep your hair healthy and beautiful, even with hard water.

The first recipe you may like to try is not really a recipe, in fact it only has two ingredients, both of which are water!

However, it really is worth having a go and seeing how it works for you:

1. Club Soda DIY Recipe

Below is the club soda DIY recipe.


Club Soda

Distilled Water


  1. Pour the club soda into a bottle that you can take into the shower (one that is easy to pour from).
  2. Do the same for the distilled water (separate bottles for each).
  3. After washing your hair, pour club soda over your hair, making sure you cover every strand.
  4. Leave to fizz on your hair for a couple of minutes.
  5. Rinse with distilled water.

Whilst this DIY homemade shampoo to combat the hard water where you live may seem far too simple to work, it does.

Either on its own or followed with a small amount of argan oil to leave in your hair, you will notice a difference as soon as your hair is dry.

2. Baking Soda And Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

The second recipe you could try is a mix of baking soda coupled with an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse.

The baking soda will act as a clarifier, whilst the ACV will help to neutralize the hard water and reduce the likelihood and effects of build-up.


Baking Soda



  1. Boil a pan of water.
  2. Allow the boiled water to cool slightly.
  3. Pour the water into an easy to pour bottle. Make sure that you remove any scum that has formed on top first, and do not use the water at the bottom of your pan where particles may have settled after the boiling process.
  4. In a small bowl place a tablespoon of baking soda (more if your hair is very thick/long) and slowly pour in the water, stirring at all times.
  5. Keep stirring until you achieve a thin paste.
  6. Wet your hair thoroughly with the water from the pouring bottle.
  7. Smooth the paste all the way through your hair, concentrating on the roots.
  8. Massage throughout your hair and into your scalp.
  9. Rinse out of your hair with some more boiled water that has cooled.
  10. Dilute the ACV 1:5 with the boiled water and pour through your hair.
  11. Allow the ACV to work for a couple of minutes.
  12. Rinse out with more cooled boiled water, ensuring that all the baking soda has been removed

This recipe should remove any build up in your hair and leave it soft and shiny.

Be aware that you should not use baking soda too frequently as it can be too harsh on your hair when used too often.

If you find that your hair is a little dry after this wash, then reduce the amount of baking soda used and/or dilute that ACV further. Baking soda is a very potent cleanser, so a little goes a long way.

If neither of the above excites you, try the third recipe if you live in a hard water area.

3. Soapnut DIY Recipe

Below is the soapnut DIY recipe.



Essential oil of your choice


  1. Boil your soapnuts (about 5, more if you have long hair) in 2 cupfuls of water for around 15 minutes.
  2. Blitz your mixture once cooled slightly, or use a masher if you have no blitzer available.
  3. Strain out all the bits.
  4. Add a couple of drops of essential oil and mix.
  5. Pour the soapnut water over your hair and massage so that every strand has been covered.
  6. Leave for a couple of minutes before rinsing out with water (preferably distilled or boiled).
  7. You can also use an ACV rinse afterward, but this step is not necessary, simply personal choice.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time and freeze whatever you have left over.

Pour the mix into an ice cube tray and freeze until you need then.

The number of cubes needed to wash your hair will depend upon the length and thickness of your hair, but you will quickly find what works best for you (sources 1,2,3).

Best Shampoo For Hard Water And Dry Hair

Trying to keep your hair shining and healthy when your hair is naturally dry, and you live in a hard water area, is possibly one of the most difficult things to achieve.

The hard water contains minerals that build up on your hair, preventing moisture and nutrients from being so readily absorbed.

Dry hair needs moisture, and plenty of it, so the shampoos listed below are good choices if you are looking for the best shampoo for hard water and dry hair.

Thankfully, as the number of people who want natural products, without chemicals, that are kind to the environment grows, so does the availability of these products.

This means that there is now no need to make your own shampoo if you do not want to.

Instead, just pop the products listed below in your Amazon basket, and have the convenience of a ready-made product with the bonus of knowing you are doing your best for your hair, and for the environment too.

Below are two great shampoos. The reason these shampoos are effective is that they are natural shampoos, so do not contain any harmful man-made chemicals like sulfates and silicones.

1. Malibu Hard Water Wellness

This paraben and sulfate free shampoo has fabulous reviews and will cut through the water hardness which will allow you to add moisture and nutrients to your dry hair.

Click this link to read the Amazon reviews on this product.

2. Rice Water Shampoo Bar

If you prefer solid shampoo then this one is bound to give your hair the treatment it deserves.

Whether your hair is straight or curly, this zero waste and plastic-free product is pH balanced and suitable for vegans.

Click here to read the extra details listed on Amazon.

Best Conditioner For Hard Water

With many of the natural shampoos, especially the shampoo bars, it is not necessary to use a conditioner afterwards.

However, if your hair still needs that extra moisture and silkiness that a conditioner can provide, these are the ones to try:

1. Sheamoisture Conditioner

This silicone and sulfate-free conditioner should provide everything that your hair needs to stay moisturized and nourished, even in a hard water area.

Click here to view more details on Amazon.

2. Malibu Conditioner

This leave-in product is both vegan-friendly and sulfate-free.

It states that it works in hard water areas and is suitable for swimmers.

View details on Amazon.


Living in a hard water area is always going to make keeping your hair healthy and looking great a challenge.

The minerals in hard water can drag down your hair and make it prone to dryness and breakage.

There are ways that you can still use natural shampoos, without the harmful chemicals (this is what is natural shampoo), to keep on top of your hair health, and keep your hair shining with health.

Using products like soapnuts and rinsing with ACV can drastically reduce the build-up associated with hard water.

Finding the right method for you might take a little longer, but there is a natural method out there that suits almost everyone.

Ultimately, we are all individuals, and our water is different all over the country. This means that what works for one may not work for others in the same way.

Trial and error, and a little experimentation are therefore what you need to do, to find the best product for you.

Related Questions

Which States Have Hard Water?

Unhelpfully for our hair, hard water is found in many US states.  The hardest water states are generally Indiana, Wisconsin, and Florida, along with Utah and New Mexico. Parts of Texas are also prone (source 1).

Katrina Stewardson

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I've been obsessed for almost ever with discovering the best natural hair methods for my own hair. For years I longed for one website to tell me everything I needed to know about the amazing No Poo Method movement. I just couldn't find one though, so I decided to create it myself! I dearly hope this website will save all you lovely ladies (and gents!) from wasting hours scrolling the internet looking for natural hair-related information like I did.

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