How Minerals and Oxidizers Affect Your Hair and Skin
What is an Oxidizer?
The term oxidation is derived from the observation that almost all elements react with oxygen to form compounds called "oxides." A typical example of oxidation is the corrosion or rusting of iron. Oxidation can be defined very simply as the "addition of oxygen." Anything that adds oxygen (for example, water, sun or air) to something else (in this case, your hair or skin) is called an "oxidizer."
How Oxidizers Can Affect Your Hair
In moderate amounts, oxidizers can cause loss or fading of hair color. Great amounts of oxidizers can break down and damage hair, eventually causing it to deteriorate.
Chlorine: Chlorine is an element used to kill bacteria in drinking water and pools, and as an active bleach to remove pigment in color. Chlorine can discolor hair, damage the cuticle and protein, and create an oxidizing effect on elements in the hair. Active chlorine can leave hair feeling gummy when wet, and straw-like when dry. Chlorine can alter the electrical charge on minerals in the hair, causing them to bond stronger to the hair, and may even change the color of certain minerals. The highly charged mineral may, in turn, damage and/or discolor the hair.
Water/Sun/Air: Oxygen in the air and water coupled with heat and light from the sun cause accelerated oxidation of the hair. The more exposure to the outdoors,
the greater the amount of oxidation. For example, color treated hair fades faster on persons with greater exposure to the outdoors, and especially during the summer.
Peroxide: A compound (H2O2) that is used as an oxidizing and bleaching agent to remove color pigment from the hair, which leaves a blond/white appearance. The
more concentrated the peroxide, the greater the oxidizing effect.
Neutralizer: An oxidizer used in the second stage of the perming and relaxing process to lock in the bonds of the hair protein. If not completely removed with an anti-oxidant, such as Malibu Wellness normalizers, a neutralizer can cause burning to the scalp and breakage to the hair following a service.
Bromine: Used like chlorine, especially in hot pools, such as whirlpools and spas.
How Minerals Get Into Water
Ground water and surface water are the sources of water for homes and businesses.
Ground water comes from under the ground. Both domestic and community wells derive their water from rain passing through aquifers, which are layers of minerals.
The acidity (pH below 7.0) of the rain increases the dissolving effect of minerals; therefore, these dissolved solids are found in the water when pumped above ground
and used in bathing.
Surface water comes from rivers or lakes, usually containing fewer minerals because the water has not filtered down through the mineral layers. Unfortunately, increasing
populations are polluting the water, which causes additional bacterial growth. This growth is controlled at treatment facilities by adding chlorine to kill bacteria, and then adding lime (a calcium compound) to help control chlorine levels.
How Minerals Can Attach on to Your Hair
Minerals affecting the hair are charged positive. This attachment creates
a "wall" of minerals on the protein, blocking solutions, preventing proper penetration of color, perm, and relaxer. Minerals found in water at home are continuously exposed
to the hair during bathing. Since hot or warm water is usually selected to wash hair, the cuticle is opened, allowing positively charged elements, such as minerals, to get inside the cuticle and attach to the protein.
How Minerals Can Affect Hair
Calcium Effect on Hair: This mineral is in most of the water in the United States and unfortunately, causes serious problems not usually recognized by most professional stylists and
Mineralized calcium is found naturally in the ground, especially where limestone is present. Calcium (also known as lime) is injected into most water systems
as part of the water treatment process.
Three ways calcium affects hair:
Calcium builds up on the hair, leaving the hair feeling dry and weighted down. It can even cause perms to be relaxed.
Calcium salts build up on the scalp and cause flaking, often know as dandruff. These deposits are much like the "bathtub ring" associated with hard water and bath soap.
- Calcium "build-up" can clog the hair at the mouth of the follicle, causing the hair to
break off, and may coat the scalp, blocking further hair growth.
Copper: This mineral bonds strongly to the hair and originates either from underground water, particles from copper water pipes, or most commonly, copper sulfates added to pool and drinking water to control algae growth. Oxidized copper discolors light hair,
producing a green tint, and causes dark hair to tint darker. It can weigh hair down, and also cause problems in perms, colors, and relaxers.
Iron: Found usually in well water in areas that have concentrations of iron in the ground. Concentrations of iron will slowly cause hair to tint darker, add weight to the hair, and prevent proper chemical processing. Heavy amounts of iron will tint light-colored
hair orange and cause dark hair to become darker with red highlights. Oxidized iron actually functions as an oxidizer in hair in much the same way that mild
peroxide attacks the hair. It may cause an excessive dry feeling in the hair and may actually change the textural appearance of the hair.
Magnesium: Magnesium is abundant in the soil and is very much a part of the mineral complex associated with hard water. Like calcium, magnesium attaches to
the hair, leaving it feeling dry and weighted down.
Silica: Sand-like substance found in areas of volcanic or desert-like areas. It is usually bound to calcium or magnesium and forms very hard, virtually insoluble
deposits on surfaces. Water borne silica can build up on the hair, causing the same effect as calcium - dryness, dandruff, weight, and hair loss.
Lead: Lead acetate is used in certain home remedy gray cover-ups, such as Grecian Formula. This element can build up, leaving the hair feeling dry and preventing proper chemical services, such as perms and colors, from processing properly.