Celebrity beauty secrets can range from the mildly shocking vampire facials to the downright bizarre clay diets(!). From January Jones’ beer bath to Gwyneth Paltrow‘s infamous beet-sting facials, celebrities and their beauty tips often run into the peculiar territory. But once in a while, we do get a relatable queen spouting some facts, and Adriana Lima seems to join the same ranks. The supermodel and our perpetual crush recently revealed that she avoids washing her face with sink water to maintain its health. Her reason being your skin can really suffer from all the nasty bacteria and harmful elements in regular plumbing being too stressful for your skin.
But given the short contact time during cleansing your face or showering, does regular plumbing water really affect the skin? Can this tip be chalked up to yet another bougie habit of the rich and the famous? We asked an expert to clear the air, and here’s what we discovered.
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Dr Niketa Sonavane, Celebrity Dermatologist and Founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai, says, “A person may absorb more chlorine and other toxins by bathing and showering than drinking dirty water containing the same hazardous substances”. She further elaborates, “Tap water can contain various contaminants, including chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, radium, aluminium, copper, lead, pesticides, nitrates, and more.” Regardless of the short contact time, exposure to these pollutants in tap water can result in adverse health effects when showering. Some common issues you may not notice are chlorine and chloramine-induced allergic responses like itching eyes and a runny nose. This means that those long, existential crisis-stricken showers are bothering your skin and hair!
To narrow it down, let’s look at hard water and its effects on the skin. In addition to adverse health effects, skin dryness is the most typical impact of hard water on the skin. Similar to how it affects your hair, hard water makes it harder to remove soap from the surface of your skin, leaving it dry and susceptible to irritation. “More than 50 mg/litre of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron are in hard water. These can produce free radicals, which can damage healthy skin cells. Damage might include dry skin, clogged pores, and persistent skin disorders such as dermatitis, acne, and eczema,” reveals Dr Niketa.
But how exactly does hard water affect your skin? The science behind it is simple. Hard water, which contains trace amounts of iron, magnesium, and calcium, can also generate free radicals. And as we already know, free radical damage to the skin can degrade collagen, leading to loss of firmness. Some skin types may also be more prone to skin damage than the rest. “Tap water can cause skin harm, mainly if your skin is sensitive. However, for the majority of other, more resilient skin types, this may not be a cause for concern,” clarifies Dr Niketa.
As mentioned above, the effects of regular plumbing can go beyond your skin. Dr Niketa says, “If you want your hair to appear healthier and more lustrous, we recommend using distilled water instead of tap water. Neither distilled nor bottled mineral water contains hard mineral deposits or harsh compounds such as chlorine. This makes distilled water a great addition to your hair care routine.” As for the skin, there are a couple of options available at hand to optimise your shower or face washing routine:
1. Install shower filters that soften and purify shower water.
2. Invest in a water softener that can be added to tub bath or bucket bath water.
3. Instead of tap water, use micellar water for cleansing and finish with a rinse of mineral water.
4. Keep your showers short, and carry a bottle of purified water to rinse your hair at the end of the shower.
5. Choose natural bath and hair care products to reduce chemical overload.
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