Hair damage from hard water happens over time from a cumulative process of mineral build-up. Minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium, build up on the hair making it brittle, hard to curl, lifeless and dull. In areas that contain extremely hard water, hair will take on different colors like brassy orange or even a ghoulish green!

If you've lived with moderately hard water for a period of time, it's easy to overlook it as being the catalyst of limp and lifeless hair that once had body and shine. And instead of putting blame where blame is due, it's easy to go the route of endlessly trying new shampoos and conditioning treatments in hopes you'll find the remedy there for better hairstyles.

Do you know if you have hard water? Noticeable effects from hard water include bathtub rings, spots on dishes, dingy yellowed clothing and reduced foaming of shampoos and other detergents. If you live in the city and are connected to city water, the folks at city hall can answer the question. You can also contact your city health department to find where you can have your water tested.

A demineralizing treatment is most effective for eliminating mineral buildup on hair from hard water. For extremely discolored hair from chlorine or other mineral buildup, a salon demineralizing treatment is a great way to get it resolved quickly and easily. At the salon they can speed up the process by using heat from a hooded dryer and if more than one treatment is needed, they can spot it and get it done.

But, for just a few dollars per treatment, you can do a demineralizing treatment at home. My favorite is Malibu Hard Water Demineralizer packets, which can be found at your local beauty supply store. To use; wet granules in hands and apply to clean, towel dried hair. Pay attention to cover all of the hair. Cover with a shower cap or wrap in plastic and cover with a towel. The longer the exposure the better and heat or steam helps the process. Rinse and condition the hair.

Clarifying shampoos are an effective way of ridding the hair from excess buildup. They are formulated to deep clean the hair and remove residues deposited from hair products and other environmental factors. This means they contain sulfates and other active detergent agents that strip the hair, leaving it dryer than normal. For that reason, a good conditioner or conditioning treatment should always be used after a clarifying shampoo. Most brands now include formulations specifically for color treated hair, which I highly recommend for both longer lasting color and maintaining the integrity of your hair.

An apple cider vinegar/water rinse is an at-home remedy for hard water hair damage that may be worth a try. It's been used for years to soften hair and it acts somewhat like a clarifying shampoo. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and will neutralize the effects of soaps and alkaline salts in water which can mix to form a deposit that clings to the hair.

Malibu treatments or Clarifying treatments can be done weekly or monthly to keep hard water hair damage at bay. And if you color your hair . . . choose one of these treatments and make it part of your beauty regime!

Guest author Barb Quinn has been a professional hair stylist for over 30 years and has established herself as a nationally recognized hair designer, educator, and freelance writer. Barb has been chosen by her peers to serve on the advisory panel of Cosmos C International the global hair stylist network. Thousands of women each day follow Barb's hair styling wit and wisdom on her highly successful blogs Hairstyle Blog and Visual Makeover. In 2011 The Hairstyle Blog was selected as Top Beauty Blog by BeautySchool.com.