Hair how-to: 3 tips for beating hard water hair damage in Paris

MyFrenchLife™-Hard water hair damage-hair

Moving to Paris is a great adventure, a door to discovering a whole new culture and mode de vie. Adapting to Parisian life involves wonderful surprises and discoveries, and the occasional culture shock.

As an expat in Paris, I’ve learnt to adapt and embrace difference. However, there is just one thing I continuously battle against—Parisian hard water hair damage. 

After speaking to other fellow expats and non-Parisians, I’m relieved to know I’m not alone! In fact, the water in Paris is notoriously hard. It’s the high percentage of calcium and magnesium, amongst other minerals, that create the hard water hair damage in the form of lacklustre, knot-prone dryness. I tried many clarifying shampoos and shine boosting treatment masks to battle this problem, before realising the root of the problem: the city’s infamously hard water!

Below are some of my recommended tips for all those who suffer from hard water hair damage and want to give their hair the va va voom it deserves. I’ve chosen natural and affordable tricks, as no matter how much we’d all like to, not all of us are staying long enough in Paris to invest in a water softener!

Treat your mane with natural oils

MyFrenchLife™-Hard water hair damage-hair1.pngA 100% pure shea butter and argan oil combo is the best treatment for split end protection and shine. Rub a little shea butter on to the tips off your hair overnight, and put a few drops of argan oil on them just before washing your hair the following morning. Those with hair prone to dry ends will really notice the difference—hard water hair damage be-gone!

For silky smooth, fragrant locks, a coconut oil hair mask every fortnight is ideal. Simply massage a mix of one large tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of olive oil into dry hair and keep wrapped in a towel for an hour, then wash as you usually would with shampoo and conditioner.

These oils are not simply hair care gems, but have lots of other uses. Shea butter is a fabulous moisture-locking lip balm, and argan oil can be used as an overnight face oil for quenching your skin in winter. As for coconut oil, it’s well known in the health food scene as a nutritious alternative to butter and traditional cooking oils.

Achieve bright and glossy hair with filtered waterMyFrenchLife™-Hard water hair damage-filter water

For guaranteed shine, use filtered water from a jug for the final rinse of a hair wash, to wash away the sediment and minerals of the hard water. Squeeze out as much water as possible from your hair after conditioning, and rinse your hair with the filtered water.

There will be a noticeable difference in the shine and texture of your hair. Not to mention it’s the cheapest and most effective way to achieve glossy hair once dried.

Give your hair a new zest for life with a lemon rinse

If you’re light haired, a lemon rinse can help lighten and brighten your mane thanks to its natural bleach qualities. The rinse also works particularly well for those with oily scalps, because the astringent qualities of lemon tighten the pores of your scalp to block oil from spreading to the hair.

MyFrenchLife™-Hard water hair damage-lemon

Chop two large lemons, juice them and then strain the juice. Add 200ml of warm filtered water to the extracted juice, and rinse onto your hair after shampoo and conditioning. After drying your hair, you’ll have a head of fresh, zingy locks!

Voilà! Simple, natural tips to prevent you from suffering Paris’ hard water hair damage.

Do you have other hard water hair damage busting secrets to share with us? Join the conversation below!

Image credits:
1. Image by Verne Ho, via Unsplash
2. Image by Mila Vigorova, via Unsplash
3. Image by Cia Gould, via Unsplash
4. Image by Lauren Mancke, via Unsplash

About the Contributor

Emma Ly

A London born French and History graduate working in the French cosmetics industry in Paris. I love to decode the myths of French beauty through cosmetics, art and fashion, and to simply explore the city’s charm as a flâneuse. Follow my Instagram to see all my favourite captured moments!

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  1. sunny fields May 1, 2016 at 7:53 AM - Reply

    This is something that frustrates me when I am in France. My hair stands on end and feels like straw. So I shall put those tips to work and see if I can get silky locks like you.
    Our region is full of calcaire which is very evident as you pass the ploughed chalky fields. But that is my only complaint! Check it out on

  2. Gerard Lewis-Fitzgerald Jul 15, 2016 at 11:33 AM - Reply

    Tous ces petits soins de coiffure n’intéressent qu’aux femmes et aux métrosexuels tâtillons. (Je ne sais pas – recommander aux citadins français d’installer des citernes chez eux pour attraper plein d’eau pluviale – plus douce pour les cheveux.)
    En tout cas, ona tout dernièrement appris que le Prés de la République dépense une somme astronomique pour soigner ses tifs dont il n’a que très peu.
    Hé, Hollande, venez en Oz où les coupes masculines de base ne coûtent qu’environ 15 euros-17 euros chez un barbier de centre commercial. Après tout, les cheveux ne sont que de la proteine morte.

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