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Guys, there’s a lot of scary news out there. Sometimes, I feel like the world is teetering on the brink of collapse, and everything is out to get me.
“Plastic Tupperware linked to cancer!”
“Your vegetables are covered in pesticides!”
“Rabid badgers terrorize Michigan!”
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who gets panicky and overwhelmed.
And as general paranoia seems to raise a notch every year, so do protective measures. We switch to glass food storage, try to buy organic produce (when we can afford it), and maybe just don’t go to Michigan.
So it’s no surprise that filtered water is ever more popular, with all the scary toxins and pollution floating around in our environment.
Besides, a lot of tap water straight-up tastes like dirty metal. (Shout out to every other kid who drank from the garden hose and lived to tell about it!)
But it’s not enough to just care about the water we drink. What about the water we wash with?
I hate to alarm you, I really do. But your tap water probably contains more than H2O, and it’s not all good for your skin!
Want to protect your complexion? Find out what dark secrets your water is hiding!
So, I’ve known for a while now that hard water is not a good thing. It’s listed alongside gross stuff like mildew in the Scrubbing Bubbles commercials, so the implication was clear:
Hard water is also bad water.
But what makes it so bad? What the heck is hard water, anyway?
The answer is simpler than you might think. Hard water is just water that contains a high level of salts or minerals — usually calcium and magnesium.
That actually sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? When you think about eating, minerals are goals. But topically, it’s a different story, and hard water is often the culprit behind chronic skin and hair issues.
This mineral-heavy water can dehydrate your skin and disrupt its natural barriers, making it vulnerable to bacteria and pollutants. In fact, the drying effect can be so severe that hard water has been linked to the appearance of conditions like eczema.
All of this intense dryness also triggers an emergency response from your sebaceous glands, which start pumping out natural oils to compensate. In the end, you’re left with a perfect storm of flaking skin cells, harmful bacteria, and excess oil — all the building blocks of an acne breakout!
There’s also the risk of premature aging. If hard water is regularly stripping the moisture from your skin, it can result in the early onset of fine lines and wrinkles.
And if your hard water contains heavy metals like iron, copper, zinc, or nickel, they can oxidize on your skin. This creates free radicals that can break down collagen and elastic tissue, adding sagging skin to your list of aging woes.
As the final insult to this injury, hard water makes it difficult to lather soaps and shampoos. This can prompt unwitting consumers to purchase high-lather or foaming products, which are often packed with skin-irritating surfactants. So their skin ends up double-damaged by hard water and harsh chemicals in their skincare.
Minerals aren’t the only things sneaking around your water pipes. Most tap water also contains chemicals — some which leach in by accident, and some which are added on purpose.
Two of the chemicals most commonly found in tap water are chlorine and fluoride, which are intentionally added to decontaminate the water supply. Chlorine is intended to kill dangerous bacteria, and fluoride promotes dental hygiene.
But you know the old adage about good intentions. Just because these chemicals mean well doesn’t mean they’re healthy for your skin!
As someone with acne-prone skin, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with swimming pools.
I love being in the water and splashing around with my friends, but I’ve always felt self-conscious about going makeup-free. There have literally been times that I wore makeup to the pool, and just refused to put my head under!
And even when I was feeling brave enough to take a dip without makeup, I had another danger to worry about: my post-swim dry skin.
When I climbed out of the pool, I’d always grab my towel and run straight for the bathroom, so I could examine my face for any unsightly dry patches. Maybe I’d even apply moisturizer on top of all the sunscreen.
Swimming always left me feeling so parched. How could water be so dehydrating?
Some of the blame lies with chlorine. Much like in your tap water, chlorine is added to pools to fight contamination. Unfortunately, it also fights with your skin!
Chlorine strips natural oils and protective proteins from the surface of your skin. As with hard water, this harsh dehydration leads to a downward spiral from dry skin to excess sebum and, finally, breakouts!
(And if you’re drinking chlorinated tap water from your kitchen sink, the chlorine may kill off healthy bacteria in your digestive system, which can also contribute to acne!)
Plus, it’s prematurely aging, as your dried-out skin gradually cracks into creases and wrinkles.
These effects can be even worse if you’re exposed to chlorine in a hot shower, or by soaking in a chlorine-treated hot tub. The heat dilates your pores, allowing the chlorine to penetrate deeper into the layers of your skin.
So if you often swim or shower in water with high chlorine levels, your skin may be extra irritated and acne-prone. You’ll need to be extra conscientious to keep your skin properly balanced and moisturized!
No, I’m not talking about fluoride toothpaste (or the pervasive toothpaste-as-spot-treatment skincare myth.) I’m talking about the fluoride added to your tap water.
It may be beneficial for your teeth (in moderation), but it’s definitely not a friend to your skin.
Fluoride dries you out and contributes to acne, much like hard water or chlorine. But it also interferes with collagen production.
Usually, collagen keeps your face plump and youthful. So by disrupting the collagen in your skin, fluoride worsens your skin’s elasticity and contributes to premature aging.
Healthy teeth are great and all, but I’m not too eager to pair them with breakouts and sagging skin!
As liquids go, water seems pretty neutral, right? It’s clear, colorless, and usually doesn’t taste like much of anything. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would majorly unbalance your skin.
But tap water can actually have a dramatic effect on your natural pH!
If you aren’t familiar, the pH scale essentially just measures how acidic something is. Ideally, your skin wants to remain a little bit acidic — in scientific terms, it likes a pH level slightly under 5.
This is important because that pH level helps regulate your skin’s natural protective barrier.
For one thing, keeping things acidic discourages fungus and bacteria. It also helps your skin retain moisture.
But most tap water has a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5, much higher than your skin’s ideal. Washing or rinsing with tap water can raise your skin’s pH, interfering with its hydration and ability to repel harmful bacteria.
This effect can last for hours or even days, leaving your complexion mighty vulnerable!
And what happens when your skin gets dry and overrun? Irritation, infections, and acne.
So, what can you do to counteract all these problems?
It’s probably too much to ask that you avoid tap water altogether. Your friends and coworkers still want you to bathe!
Fortunately, there are other steps you can take to prevent water damage to your precious, one-of-a-kind face.
Have you noticed that anti-aging products are geared towards women that are your mother's age? Now, your mom is an attractive women, but your skincare goals don't really line up. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a solution to prevent wrinkles before they happen? Good news, there is! It's called preventative aging and this article tells you exactly how it works.
Meet blue tansy, the sapphire-hued essential oil that inspired our preventative aging line. Learn how this precious botanical bathes your skin in illuminating nourishment and lifts your spirits through the power of aromatherapy.
Has anyone ever found the magic fountain of youth promised in anti-aging products? You aren’t foolish for seeking skin solutions, you’ve just been looking in the wrong place. Beautiful skin that lasts isn’t about anti-aging — it’s about preventative aging.