How Water Affects Your Hair, Skin, & Nails

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When it comes to your skin, water’s a gift and a curse. It can be a secret weapon for a youthful appearance and radiant glow or an ally to unwanted signs of aging and other skin-related concerns. Keep scrolling to uncover the many ways — for better or for worse — water affects your hair, skin, and nails.

A Quick Word On Dehydration

Mosey on over to Google and you’ll discover dermatologists from every corner of the world condemning dehydration. Our need to drink water is admittedly obvious for all things in life. But unless the mirror points it out for you (like this remarkable before and after), it’s easy to miss the massive link between hydration and appearance. 

Dull skin, prominent wrinkles, and a dry, itchy scalp are all associated with skimping on your water intake. Given your skin is mostly water (64% to be exact), it makes sense. And for some, that’s more than enough motivation to top off a glass right this second. No one wants dry, dull, and dehydrated skin and hair. But simply drinking your version of 8 glasses a day is no skincare cure-all either…

Excessive Exposure to Arsenic Can Be Linked to Lesions & Skin Cancer

Though you can’t see, smell, or taste it, arsenic can find its way into tap water. It’s a naturally occurring chemical in soil, sediments, and groundwater, which all regularly sneak into our water sources without raising red flags. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has standards around acceptable levels of the toxic chemical.

Since 2001, there have been fewer violations by the United States’ public water systems than ever before.

Yet hundreds of thousands of Americans are still exposed to dangerous levels of arsenic each year.

And let’s not forget, arsenic’s been found in bottled water too. The scary truth is long-term exposure can lead to skin lesions, hard patches, and other precursors to skin cancer.

Hair Loss Can Be Caused By Excess Selenium Intake

Eggs, nuts, meat, fish, beans. Most of us get all the selenium we need from our diet. In small doses, it’s good for you. It plays a role in metabolism and thyroid function and may boost your immune system. But tap water as well as selenium-infused bottled water can be rife with it, too. Fair warning: Too much of a good thing can be bad. 

Every once in a while selenium levels in tap water exceed acceptable ranges courtesy of mining, soil erosion, and wastewater. In fact, Yale penned this 2019 piece about “one of the biggest selenium contamination issues in the world” threatening U.S. waters. Meanwhile, plenty of outlets have made it clear selenium-infused water isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. By accident or by choice, sipping unsafe levels of the mineral for years on end can cause hair loss and brittle nails among other things.

Hard Water Attacks Your Skin In the Shower & Beyond

You don’t just drink water. You wash in it, cook with it, and clean with it. Your water is considered hard when it has a high concentration of minerals. Typically, they stick around long after you shut off the source. Scale in the shower, spots on your dishes, and soap scum in sinks and tubs are surefire signs of hard water. Now imagine those same minerals clinging to your skin... 

Hard water clogs pores, dries you out, and triggers flaking and itching. All of which can lead to acne, scaly skin, lifeless hair, and more. And anyone familiar with eczema and psoriasis knows hard water only makes matters worse. So it’s no wonder outlets like Vogue refer to hard water as a “beauty nemesis.” It’s simply something you don’t want sticking to your skin. 

*While we do not offer shower heads, our shower head replacement filters are still available here.

Chlorine Causes Eye & Skin Irritation

In some cases, it’s a necessary evil. Take public pools, for example. We’ve all experienced pruny skin and red eyes after taking a dip for too long. But without chlorine, that same water could be off limits. The problem is chlorine makes its way into our tap — and regulating it is far from a perfect science. 

You may be okay with itching, irritation, and swelling following a day at the pool, but not so much when you’re experiencing it every day at home. When you shower. When you clean the dishes. And even when the washer’s drenching your clothes. Chlorinated water can deplete the skin of its natural oils and hydration, which can worsen skin conditions and amplify irritation.

Skin Burns Are the Least Worrisome Symptom of Chromium 6 Exposure

If Chromium 6 sounds familiar, it’s probably for one of two reasons:

1. Erin Brockovich. Either Julia Roberts’ portrayal of the activist in the 2000 Oscar-winning film or Brockovich’s latest book, ‘Superman’s Not Coming.’

2. Its infamous link to cancer. Like many of the contaminants we’ve already mentioned, excess levels of Chromium 6 are unsafe. 

The frightening chemical is still being found in U.S. tap water sources today, and it rightfully stirs up controversy regularly.

Skin ulcers and skin burns are the most common skin issues associated with exposure to Chromium 6.

But cancer is the scary stuff. For a variety of reasons, it’s not something you want to shower in or sip on.

Pesticides, Herbicides, & Fertilizers Can Cause Adverse Reactions

The same substances used to kill weeds and pests flow from gardens, crops, and lawns into your tap water with help from rain, snow, irrigation, and natural disasters. Think about this: In the U.S., fertilizer usage is measured in metric tons each year. So there’s plenty of opportunity for these chemicals to infiltrate your water. And if they come in contact with your skin, they can cause allergic reactions and lead to blistering, dermatitis, and rashes.

How Water Affects Your Hair, Skin, & Nails

This is not an exhaustive list, but it illustrates some common issues. All of which are caused by 1 of 2 things: Lack of water or poor water quality: 

  • Dehydration can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, dry skin, and an itchy scalp.

  • Arsenic has been linked to skin lesions and skin cancer.

  • Excessive exposure to selenium has been associated with hair loss. 

  • Hard water clogs pores, causes flaking, and can trigger eczema and psoriasis.

  • Chlorine irritates eyes and skin. 

  • Chromium 6 can cause ulcers and burns.

  • Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer can lead to allergic reactions, blistering, and rashes.

Moral of the Story: Water Quality Is Key

Water can feel like a double-edged sword. The wrong water is brimming with toxins, chemicals, and contaminants. Which means you’re drinking them, inhaling them, and absorbing them. That’s certainly not a pleasant thought. On the flip side, you literally can’t live without water. After all, dehydration is just the tip of the iceberg. Point being: Water quality matters. Our advice? Invest in a filter you can trust. Filters can transform tap water from questionable to clean in seconds. And in turn, you can help keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy. 

*While we do not offer shower heads, our shower head replacement filters are still available here.


1. Here's what drinking 3 litres of water a day does to your skin

2. Cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery: Transformations

3. Tougher arsenic standard shows desired effect: Public’s drinking water is safer

4. High levels of arsenic found in US Whole Foods’ bottled water brand

5. Arsenic

6. From Canadian Coal Mines, Toxic Pollution That Knows No Borders,the%20quality%20of%20U.S.%20waters.

7. Selenium

8. How To Combat The Effects Of Hard Water On Your Skin And Hair

9. 'It affects us all': Erin Brockovich's 'Superman's Not Coming' explores water issues, urges action

10. New Test Results: Cancer-causing chemical still detected in Houston’s tap water

11. Madison water meets government standards despite some contaminants

12. Total U.S. fertilizer use from 2010 to 2025 (in 1,000 metric tons)*

13. US EPA. National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Accessed September 2, 2019

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