Does Water Effect Hair Loss?

Whether it’s male pattern baldness or alopecia areata, many of the exact causes of hair loss are not fully understood by science or medicine yet. One thing that is thought to speed up hair loss or to perhaps cause it in the first place, however, are the traces of harsh elements in our water sources. In fact, it’s not the water (made up of hydrogen and oxygen) that’s affecting hair loss, but the additional minerals and poisons that enter our water systems.


Selenium is a non-metal element that is found within naturally occurring ore. It is often released into the air or into our drinking water systems when it has been part of the process to produce other materials.

Selenium compounds are used in photocopying and photographic materials and are also used in petrol refining, so, as a result, it can find its way into our water system in a number of ways.

Selenium is thought to be responsible for hair changes which could include hair loss. If selenium is found in your water the best way to remove it is through a reverse osmosis water filter.


Mercury is a metal element commonly found in fish, but also in our drinking water systems. Mercury, for reasons largely unknown by scientists, is thought to potentially affect hair loss by making it worse.

It doesn’t just happen when you wash your hair with water that contains mercury, it also occurs from eating fish with large amounts of mercury in it. If you have cut back on eating mercury filled fish such as tuna and salmon and are still experiencing hair loss, it may be the mercury in your water. Again, the best way to remove mercury from water is via a reverse osmosis water filter.


Lead is a potentially poisonous metal that contaminates our water when it comes through old lead piping. Much of the country’s old piping has been replaced with more hygienic and durable plastic piping, and in fact lead was only really used in smaller household piping.

It is no longer legal to use lead in household plumbing, but in older houses it may remain as part of the system. Common places to find lead piping in old properties include the pipes that go underground from the house to the main system, or in un-modernised kitchens. If you believe there is lead piping anywhere in your property you should consider replacing it immediately.

Lead can occur in natural ground water at low levels, but not in the UK. Since its eradication in the use paints and other products, the amount of lead in our water has reduced dramatically since the 1970s, but it’s still worth checking out.

Zinc, Potassium, Arsenic and Thalium

All of these elements are also found in traces in our drinking water system and all are thought to be potentially responsible for increasing the speed of hair loss.

What You Can Do: Water Testing and Filtering

If you think the water that you use to wash you hair could be having an adverse effect on the thickness of your locks, then the first thing you need to do is a Water Test. This will tell you exactly how many contaminants are in your water.

If high levels are found then it’s worth considering a whole house water filter system. This will not only reduce the number of contaminants that get into your cleaning water and therefore you hair, but will also reduce the amount of these contaminants entering your family’s bodies when they drink tap water.

All of the elements listed above can pose health threats when drunk in excess, so it’s for everyone’s best interest to filter them out. Reverse osmosis water filtration systems are ideal for this situation. Those whose water is supplied from a well are advised to use such a filtration system anyway as it can reduce up to 99% of potential contaminants.

What if I Get a Clean Water Test?

If the results from your water test come back clean (with no or very low levels of contaminants) then it may be that your hair loss is occurring for a different reason. Sometimes it’s stress, sometimes it’s a sign of ill health. Other times you may never know the exact cause. Speak to your doctor first so they can look into whether there is a problem with your health that may be affecting your hair loss.

Improving Hair Health in the Meantime

If you feel it’s likely that you are combatting the contaminants in your water, there are ways to improve the health of our hair whilst you look into the quality of your water. Firstly, before you buy a whole house filter, buy a small water filter for the kitchen to ensure you are drinking safe water. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses a day, which can have a great effect on hair health. Remember that our hair is 25% water and needs to stay well hydrated to stop it looking dry.

Make sure your diet includes plenty of protein (the main substance of hair) as well as the Vitamins A, B and iron. The best way to make sure you are getting all these is by eating a varied diet rich in plants. Also think about cutting down on smoking and alcohol. Smoking reduces your blood flow so limits nutrients getting to hair, whilst alcohol is thought to reduce hair growth generally.

Contaminants in water could well be the cause, or could at least be exacerbating your hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss and you don’t know why, it would be worth doing a water test to find out what is in your water.

Water with contaminates such as lead, selenium, mercury and zinc can not only affect your hair quality, but also the health of you and your family. Should you find traces of any of these contaminates, consider installing a whole house reverse osmosis water filtration unit.