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Shampoo & Styling Solutions for Soft Water

By Amalah

Dear Amy Who Probably Knows More About This Stuff Than My Actual Real-Life Friends,

K, first, background: my hair, naturally, is of medium thickness, slightly coarse, quite dry. It is quite wavy, to the point that, depending on how it is cut, it is almost downright gently curly like. It gets washed and conditioned every 2-3 days, and Ojon treatmented when I can be bothered. It won’t completely straighten for very long, but it will hold pretty much any curly/wavy style for hours.

Without styling, it is kinda frizzy and kinda poofy and the layers separate in a weird way. Wash-and-go equals no.


Well, simply put, it stopped.

About two weeks ago, it suddenly went really fine and REALLY soft. (I know it is a horrible awful complaint to say my hair is too soft, but it is WAY WAY WAY TOO SOFT.) It won’t hold a style for love nor money. If I put it back with bobby pins or a hair tie, a good gust of wind will blow it right out. I can set it overnight with rollers for volume and the curl falls within minutes. I can’t bear to coat it with hairspray, which is the only thing which could possibly give it any hope. My hair FEELS great, but I can’t do anything with it, and it looks ridiculous.

When it started behaving so badly, I thought, it’s got to be the water. We moved into a new flat about two weeks ago, which is roughly the time it stopped. I recall my other half commenting on how soft the water was here, compared to our old place, so I turned to the Almighty Google and, sure enough, soft water? Apparently well-known culprit of making your hair look like crap. I’ve been trying volumizing shampoos, etc. and have pretty much stopped conditioning entirely, other than a tiny bit on the very very ends, which a month ago would have been UNTHINKABLE.

Couple things:

1. I live in the UK, so my access to products may not be the same as that in the US. Interwebs-accessible products are great, but I’ll try to hunt down just about anything. I’m told Lush has a shampoo bar for soft water, which I plan on trying. Know anything about that?

2. I am CHEAP and BROKE. The single most expensive hair product I’ve ever bought was my Ojon restorative treatment stuff, and I got that on Ebay (WIN!) at a killer price, or I never would’ve bit that bullet.

Anywayz. Any help pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease Amyyyyyy.


I plucked your question out of the queue after reading about half of it, because I KNOW THIS ONE! I DO! So I copied-and-pasted and got my recommended link fired up in another tab and then I read the rest of your question and now my advice does not seem nearly as exciting or life-changing.

Yeah. So…LUSH? Has this shampoo bar that’s formulated for soft water? You should buy that. Like you already said you were going to. Right there. In your question.


The shampoo bar really is your best bet, especially on a tight budget. It’s cheap and (at least according to LUSH) will last longer than any bottled shampoo that you could try (and possibly hate). Personally, I would go ahead and spend a couple extra bucks/pounds (quid? tuppence? I don’t know but all your money sounds so very distinguished) on the shampoo bar tin for storing it and keeping it dry in the shower.

Otherwise, you’re on the right track. Little to zero conditioning (sorry, Ojon treatment, but you’re not helping anymore), and skip shampooing and wear a cap in the shower for as many days as possible. Try a powdered/dry shampoo (if you can find one in your area and budget) in between washings — my fine hair always seems to have a lot more “grip” on days that I can get away with just using the dry stuff. A little grit or dirt is your friend now, since your water is ultra-efficient at rinsing away the shampoo and product residue that were actually the reasons your hair was a decent thickness/coarseness before.

If you can splurge on a single styling product, make it the Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. Like the LUSH bar, it contains a little sea salt, which is FANTASTIC for thickening up too-soft or too-fine hair. Simply spritz it into your palm, rub your hands together and then work your fingers through your hair or scrunch for style.

But if you can’t splurge (or find the Surf Spray on eBay)…make your own! It won’t smell as pretty as the B&B, but other than that, you’ll get the desired effect. Simply buy an empty spray bottle and a package of sea salt. Mix two teaspoons (or so) into two cups of water (or so) and pour into the spray bottle. Shake well and let the salt dissolve.


Keep an eye out for over-dry ends if you double-up on the salt products and up your conditioning/trimming as needed — like everything, you can overdo it. I’m sure you’ve come across a recommendation on the Internet to put water and salt in a bucket and wash your hair with that. Please…don’t. Soft water isn’t a terrible thing — it’s actually way better for your skin than hard water, and the right shampoo should be enough to get your hair back into balance.


Published June 13, 2009. Last updated December 14, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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