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5 Ways That Washing With Tap Water Can Affect Your Skin And Hair

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Many American consumers are already aware that additives to municipal drinking water supplies such as chlorine can make tap water undesirable for drinking and using in cooking, and therefore have water filtration systems in place on their kitchen faucets. However, many of these same consumers think nothing of bathing and washing their face and hair with water straight from the tap. However, using tap water for your grooming rituals may have unexpected results. Following are five ways that washing with tap water can negatively affect your skin and hair.

Chlorine Can Discolor Your Hair

Those who swim in chlorinated pools on a regular basis already know that it's important to keep their hair protected from the water if they don't want it to develop a greenish cast, but washing hair in chlorinated tap water  can also play havoc with your hair by creating discoloration.

Those with fair hair notice the discoloration first, of course, but given enough exposure, dark hair will also experience discoloration as a result of being washed in chlorinated tap water. Tap water containing chlorine can also cause artificial hair coloring to take on a brassy tinge, as well as make hair brittle, weak, and dry. Professional swimmers and others who regularly use chlorinated pools protect their hair with swimming caps for good reason.

Tap Water May Exacerbate Acne

If you suffer from acne, you probably follow a skin care regime that involves washing your face twice per day. However, certain minerals and additives can make your acne worse if they are present in your tap water. Chlorine, for instance, is an irritant that may cause inflammation in existing acne lesions. Minerals in tap water such as calcium and sulfur can significantly clog pores, contributing to conditions conducive to breakouts.

Tap Water May Having Aging Effects on the Skin

Tap water contains many additives that may promote premature aging of the skin. Chlorine, for instance, is an irritant that causes the skin to become dry, leaving it more prone to the development of wrinkles. Metals such as copper, zinc, and magnesium can also contribute to dryness of the skin. However, the worst culprit concerning tap water and premature aging of the skin is fluoride.

Studies have shown that there is a direct link between fluoride and the disruption of the production of collagen. Since collagen is the elastic that keeps the skin firm, this can cause the skin to sag as well as result in wrinkles. Switching to a whole house water filtration system will remove fluoride from your tap water, but you can get the same dental benefits from using a fluoride-fortified toothpaste.

Chromium-6 in Tap Water May Cause Irritation and Allergies

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), chromium-6 has been found in the tap water of 89 percent of the cities they sampled. Besides being a carcinogen that can increase you risk of developing certain types of cancer, chromium-6 can also cause contact dermatitis as well as allergic reactions. Your tap water is more likely to contain chromium-6 if you live in an area with a substantial industrial presence.


Although arsenic occurs naturally in the environment as a result of erosion, this usually involves trace amounts that are barely detectable in tap water. However, arsenic is an ingredient in many pesticides, and ground water in agricultural communities often contains high levels of arsenic. Arsenic can cause redness and swelling when it comes into contact with the skin and can even cause hyper-pigmentation through prolonged exposure.

You should be particularly careful about using tap water on your hair and skin if you live in an area with a significant amount of commercial agriculture. Check out sites like to look into water treatment options.