Metal Detox: Your At-Home Routine For Combating Hard Water and Metals in Hair


We all want to keep that post-salon vibrancy and shine for as long as possible between appointments. Unfortunately, there’s one culprit that may be holding you back from achieving your dream locks: hard water. If you’ve never given much thought to the ways that hard water may be affecting your hair quality and color results, don’t worry—you’re most definitely not alone. Before learning about hard water, many people are left baffled as to why, after seemingly doing everything right, their hair is still looking dull, brassy, and totally underwhelming.

The truth is that water quality can actually affect the look and feel of your hair pretty drastically. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t fight back against the effects of hard water on your hair. If your hair color has been looking less than ideal between salon visits lately, or your color didn’t turn out exactly as planned, it may be time for a hair detox using L'Oréal Professionnel Metal Detox line

Below, we're breaking down all of the ways that hard water and the build up of metals can impact your strands, and how you can press the “reset” button using our Metal Detox hard water shampoo and anti-metal mask  to help prevent breakage and unreliable color results.

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What Is Hard Water?

Based on where you live, there are two types of water that may be running through your showerhead: hard water and soft water. Hard water is water that contains a high amount of dissolved minerals and metals in it, such as copper. The higher the concentration of these dissolved minerals and metals, the “harder” the water becomes. This usually happens as water makes its way from its original source, through your pipes and to your shower, absorbing metals like copper along the way.

Hard water is one of the biggest complaints of American households, with about 80% of the U.S. having water that’s considered “hard.”1 States in the Southwest and upper Midwest are known for having especially hard water. It’s important to note that while it can impact your locks, research by the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that hard water is not harmful to your health.2

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What Does Hard Water Do to Your Hair?

Hard water gets its name from the fact that it’s literally “hard” to work with. The dissolved minerals and metals in hard water create a film that stays on the surface of your hair, making it difficult to work up a good lather. This can also make it harder for moisture to get into the hair fiber, taking a toll on your mane over time.

Here are some of the signs of hard water on hair to look out for, "Hard water can dry out your hair, causing it to frizz more than normal," says L'Oréal Professionnel Artist Kim Tran. “It can also cause your color to fade faster.” Keep reading to learn more about these signs of hard water on hair.

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Hair Breakage

Studies have found that washing hair with hard water can damage strands and result in decreased thickness.3 In other words, it’s not uncommon for hard water to be behind locks that look dry, limp, brittle, and dull. Try to imagine your hair immediately after a long beach day spent swimming in the ocean: It’s dry, crunchy, and straw-like. This is somewhat similar to the effect that hard water can have on the quality of your hair. And, since dry, brittle hair can be more prone to breaking and splitting, hard water may also lead to hair breakage or even hair loss over time.

Unreliable Color Results

We hate to break it to you, but if your latest color results didn’t turn out exactly as you’d hoped, it’s possible that buildup from hard water may have played a role. This is because metal deposits from hard water can get inside your hair fiber and cause unexpected results during your color, balayage, or lightening service. This happens when metal particles in your hair mix with oxidants from the lightener or hair dye, causing a negative chemical reaction.

But it’s not only your post-salon look that hard water can wreak havoc on: Water quality can affect color vibrancy and brightness between salon visits, too. Over time, as metals erode in your water pipes, it causes metal particles to mix with your shower water. When you wash your hair, these metal particles can build up inside your hair fiber. The result? Unwanted brassiness, dullness, and premature color fading.

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How To Reverse the Effects of Hard Water on Hair

Everyone has metals in their hair. And, although you may not be able to control the type of water that comes out of your showerhead, it doesn’t mean that you’re powerless against the effects of hard water on your hair. For example, some people try hard water hacks at home, such as using a water-softening showerhead, rinsing with vinegar, or rinsing with bottled water post-shampoo.

But we’re here to let you in on a little secret: Using anti-metal products to detoxify your hair at home (such as a hard water shampoo and conditioner) is by far one of the most effective ways to protect your locks from less than optimal color results. Using a hard water hair treatment before you head to your next salon visit can be an especially useful tool, and L'Oréal Professionnel’s Metal Detox line is the perfect detoxing hair care system for the job.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve partnered with Ioaninna University to understand the impact of metal in hair: breakage and unpredictable color results. We’ve finally been able to identify a breakthrough solution,” says Leïla Hercouet, Senior Research Associate: Innovation, L’Oréal Research & Development. Metal Detox’s professional hair care system features four expert formulas that use patented technology with Glicoamine to neutralize metal inside the fiber and detoxify hair—including a sulfate-free shampoo for hard water and detox mask.

Fortunately, there’s a way to combat hard metals and maintain that salon brightness between appointments with our at-home Metal Detox treatment. Keep reading to learn more.

Metal Detox At-Home Routine for Combating Hard Water

Metal Detox features Glicoamine as its star ingredient, which is the only active agent small enough to trap and neutralize metals inside the hair fiber. This helps prevent metals from interacting with oxidants, resulting in 87% less breakage* and 100% reliable color results.**

Below, we’re breaking down exactly how to use Metal Detox’s treatment for enhanced color vibrancy and nourished, shiny hair at home.

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Step 1: Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo

This anti-metal, sulfate-free cleansing cream detoxifies metals from your strands after any color, balayage, or lightening service. It transforms from a rich cream to an easy-to-rinse concentrated foam with a memorable luxurious fragrance. For best results, the Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo for hard water should be used at home between color services. As the first step in your hair routine, it gently cleanses color-treated hair fibers and removes the buildup of metal particles. Simply apply evenly to wet hair, lather into a rich foam, and rinse well to enjoy hair that is purified, nourished, and appears intensely shiny.

Step 2: Metal Detox Mask

The second step in your Metal Detox routine for combating hard water and metals is the Detox Mask. This anti-metal hard water hair treatment can be used on any hair type or texture and is the ultimate triple threat: It works as an anti-deposit protector to shield hair fibers from metals, helps maintain color vibrancy, and provides softness and nourishment post-service. This rich cream makes the perfect pairing with our Metal Detox Sulfate-Free Shampoo, and it doesn’t weigh down your hair. For optimal results, apply this Metal Detox Mask evenly on shampooed and towel-dried hair. Leave on for one minute, then rinse and continue with the rest of your usual styling routine.

Want to learn more about L'Oréal Professionnel’s Metal Detox line? Check out this article on why Metal Detox has been a game changer since its creation.

Step 3a: Metal Detox Oil

Use the Metal Detox hair oil to prevent harmful metals from entering the hair fiber. The lightweight texture helps strengthen hair to prevent damage caused by metals. Use on damp hair to easily detangle, add shine or protect against heat before styling. Can also be used on dry hair to manage frizz, prime before restyling or layer for more shine.

Step 3b: Metal Detox Styling Cream

The Metal Detox leave-in styling cream works to smooth hair with long-lasting moisture, while reducing breakage caused by harmful metals found in water. Its professional, salon-grade formula also maintains color vibrancy, provides heat protection up to 450⁰F, and reduces frizz--making for the perfect addition to any styling routine.


1. “Hard Water Facts.” City of Scottsdale, Scottsdale Water, 2022.

2. Sengupta P. “Potential health impacts of hard water.” Int J Prev Med. 2013 Aug;4(8):866-75. PMID: 24049611; PMCID: PMC3775162.

3. Srinivasan, Gautham, and Srinivas Chakravarthy Rangachari. “Scanning electron microscopy of hair treated in hard water.” International journal of dermatology vol. 55,6 (2016): e344-6. doi:10.1111/ijd.13141

*Instrumental test Metal Detox pre-treatment + technical procedure + shampoo + mask
**No impact on lift and optimized color uptake