More curly problems... (hard water vs soft water)

stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
So a few weeks ago, I posted about how my hair was not curling. However, altering how I plop gave me back my volumous curly hair. Well now my hair is back to the same old stringy, lifeless curls. And I think I know what the cause of the problem is...

Long story short, I think my hair loves hard water and hates soft water. For the past year (when my problems started further confirming my suspicions,) I moved to town and have been showering with soft water. I posted my question right before I moved back home for a week, figured out my hair and all was good. Now that I moved back to campus again, my hair is lifeless, bordering on over-conditioned, and overall, its in a worst state than from a few weeks ago. I can't even wear it down!

My question is, what should I do? I don't have a lot of money so I would rather not invest in expensive products that may or may not work.

BTW, my hair is fine, likes protein, and I think is med-low porosity.

I'm thinking of trying an at home protein treatment tonight and using less product. Am I on the right track? What would you all recommend? I'm quite sick of my hair at this point.


  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Before deciding this is solely or partially a soft water problem, it would be helpful to also review the ingredients in anything you've been placing in your hair recently. Does anything contain silicones ("cones")? Are you using thing with oil? Are there any ingredients common to all or most of the things you've been using, that your hair might be rejecting, like glycerin? Do they contain a lot of protein?

    Also: Have you been applying a lot of thermal heat? Have you dyed or bleached it recently? Used henna or any other Ayurvedic herbs?

    Most importantly: do you shampoo or not? When was the last time you used a clarifying or chelating shampoo? I ask that because many times people who call themselves CG take pride in never using shampoo, and they end up with nasty buildup. (Lorraine Massey's advice does NOT help everyone.)

    Before doing anything else, I'd go ahead and use a chelating shampoo, following that up with a quality conditioner. That should remove at least some of the buildup, if there is some. Following that up with a PT sounds could, provided you aren't suffering already from protein buildup. (You might have to repeat the chelating poo if there's a lot of buildup)

    If it turns out you really are suffering strictly from soft water, you may need to cut back on co-washing and just go back to traditional shampoos. The rationale for that is the shampoo may prevent what sounds like a possible over-conditioning effect the soft water is causing.
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    Thanks for responding, sorry for the long delay, I got caught up in school and such. Busy college student...

    I just doubled checked my conditioner. Turns out it does have a cone, 6th ingredient. I must have missed it previously. I only use olive oil on my tips to keep them from drying out in the winter. My hair likes protein, hence the reason I was using Aussies 3 min deep conditioning as my conditioner. If I ever used non-protein products, I would have over conditioned hair, and Aussie gave me the right amount so I did not have too much protein. And there is no glycerin in my products (all Jessie Curl)

    I do not use thermal heat, on the rare occasion I will diffuse with cold air. I did attempt to dye my hair a few months back with a drugstore dye (Tresseme naturals I believe), but I accidently did not let the dye sit long enough to really change my hair color.

    I shampooed at home whenever I felt build up, after that I used an ACV rinse weekly (or when I remembered).

    I could try a clarifying or chelating shampoo since I just noticed that my conditioner has a cone and in case I do have some build up. Same to a new conditioner, as I am about out. Any recommendations please? Preferably drugstore.

    Also, could I keep using a clarifying shampoo as my regular shampoo if I cut back from co-washing? Or should I find something sulfate free?
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Glad you caught that cone. Now it's probably time for you to do a few rounds of chelating shampoo sessions, each followed by a DC of about an hour each time.

    The olive oil could have created some build up on your ends too. Depending on which Jessiecurl product you're using, you could also be suffering from additional oil buildup. As if that weren't enough, your hair could be reacting to epsom salts (depending on which of her products you're using - check into that), which can dry out hair. Your hair should hopefully return to normal after your chelating/DC sessions.
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    Thanks Korkscrew, I did clarified last night and noticed a HUGE improvement today. My curls had more volume, were tighter, well defined, and bouncy, just a little frizzy. I picked up Suave naturals coconut conditioner today and will give that a go tonight along with a DC.

    Her products I'm using do have Epsom salts, but I've used her products for 4 years and I've never had a problem (till a year ago). But I'll be sure to watch that so they don't dry out my hair.
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Glad you're already noticing improvement from that. SNC condish should be good, but in case some of the dryness returns, it could be from the protein in the coconut. If that happens, you might consider trying another Suave Natural condish that is protein-free, like Lavendar Lilac, Ocean Breeze, Wild Cherry Blossom, Green Apple, or Sun-ripened Strawberry.

    Please keep us updated as it regards your progress.
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    The first day after SNC conditioner my hair was abnormally frizzy, but it has been hard to tell right now how my hair is reacting. Its been raining and its very humid so I've been dealing with some frizz these last few days. But it doesn't feel dry and its not as mushy as before.
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    It may also help to do an ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) rinse at the end of your next wash (either before you apply your conditioner, or after). That can help balance the pH balance of your hair and close the hair cuticles to help with your "abnormal frizz". (1 cup H20 [preferably distilled and cool] w/1 tbsp. ACV. )
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    So I did the ACV rinse last night. Today my hair was like it was before (not as bad), stringy with some frizz, but more shiny. I'm puzzled, do I need to clarify again? I feel as if I got all the build up.
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    OK, I think I have a basic idea of where to go next. First, here's what I have so far in terms of what's happened:

    Your hair is currently "less mushy" than it was before and doesn't feel as dry. It's still somewhat frizzy and stringy again, as it was before clarifying. The ACV rinse seemed to make little to no difference, possibly made it worse (although the shininess could be from the ACV). It seems your build-up is basically removed right now. So now you just sound over-conditioned IMO.

    Since your hair likes protein, you've been having high humidity/dew points because of the rain, and because you have loss of curl definition, my bet is that now you should go ahead and use an actual protein treatment like Aphogee Reconstructor, or Joico K-pak Reconstructor. I think you'll find that helpful and it's something that's really handy to have around, as this over-conditioning issue could happen again in the future. Follow that up with a light conditioner. I'd stop doing DCs for a while.

    Since products with epsom salts don't seem to bother you, you might go ahead and use conditioner that contains salts, off and on (obviously something w/out cones, polyquats, etc.). Epsom salts could help you with curl retention in muggy weather. ... Or you could use a Yes To conditioner (like cucumber or carrot), which contains dead sea salt, and, again, the salt can help w/curl retention. Gotta be careful though because most Yes To condish.s have cetyl esters, which can build up. But you probably could afford to chelate shampoo every now and then anyway, since you have the water issue and are sensitive to various types of buildup, it seems. Occasional chelating should take care of any cetyl ester buildup too.
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    Ok, I just orders Aphogie k pac reconstructor tonight. I should get it this week, I will let you know how things turned out.
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    Ok, well the reconstructor finally arrived and I tried it out a couple days ago. My hair felt softer and tangle free when I rinsed it out, but the day after and since then it's still frizzy. I can't really tell a difference. I'm not sure where to go from here, I'm fed up at the moment.

    I do remember, I had a fantastic hair day right when I transitioned. I had used my old conditioner with the cone at the time since I did not have suave that day. Would it be advisable to use that conditioner and clarify every so often? Or might this be a bad idea?
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I'll be honest with you: I'm not quite sure what's going on at this point. Some further guesses: maybe your hair actually likes cones, but easily suffers build-up from them. If that's the case you can try going right back to cones w/the understanding that you will have to shampoo/chelate more.

    ... Or your first guess could be correct: a problem w/soft water. Two major chemical compounds in hard water are calcium carbonate and magnesium sulfate (epson salt). You could buy some distilled H20 and add epson salt, which can be purchased at the drug store and a lot of grocery stores. You may have to research or experiment w/how much to add. See if using that for a few washes turns your hair around. If it does, you may have located the culprit. Outside of that ...

    Other considerations: Have you been under unusual stress lately? Are you experiencing any health problems or have you changed your diet? Are you peri-menopausal or menopausal?
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    I'll try the Epsom salts and if that fails, I'll try the cones. Would I just rinse with the epsom salts? Washing my hair like that seems like a lot of work.

    And there hasn't been an increase in stress in my life in the past year, I would say more of a decrease in stress. The only major change was me moving to college, and switching to soft water. Since my move, I've been dealing with problematic hair that curls best when I shower at home. And I'm only 20, so I haven't really hit menopause yet, I've got a few years, haha.
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Actually, I'm thinking your experiment with epsom salt could be quite easy. Take about 1/4 tsp. of the salt and add it to the equivalent of 1 cup of conditioner. Shake it or mix it up really well. Apply. It's OK to rinse it out or leave it in. See if your hair responds the way it does when you use the water from home.

    Low stress is great! Hope you're enjoying college :)
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    Great! When I get to a store I'll grab some epsom salts and give this a try. Thank you for all your help! I'll post again when I try this.
  • stinestine Posts: 27Registered Users
    Turns out my roommate had Epsom salts, so I tried mixing them with SNC conditioner. So far its a success! Two washed later and my hair is bouncy, super shiny, not weighted down, and holds its curl MUCH better. It is a little frizzy by the end of the day, I think the salt is drying it out, I might back off on the amount of salt used and be sure to deep condition.
    Added bonus, my hair survived a full day of 97% humidity and cold, drizzly, rainy weather with minimal frizz
    Thank you for all your help!
  • KorkscrewKorkscrew Posts: 1,834Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    That's terrific :D and I'm glad I could help... Sounds like you know what to do from here - a balancing act between the salt and moisture. I like your idea of doing DCs. My guess is every week or other week would help you maintain a good moisture balance / offset the drying effects of the salt.

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