Is Tap Water Drying Your Skin?
If you have dry skin, I totally feel your pain. I’ve been there. You’ve probably tried everything you can think of to try to fix it. If your skin feels itchy, flaky or tight after you’ve washed your face or showered, if your makeup never goes on smoothly, if it feels rough or uneven in texture, you know exactly how uncomfortable dry skin can be. And beyond that discomfort, you know a big part of keeping your skin looking fresh, firm, and plump as you mature (like a fine red wine!) is to keep it well hydrated.
There are many things we can do to help dry skin. For example, I’ve talked about about hydrating your skin from the inside out in a past post, and how increasing your water intake is simply not enough to hydrate your skin. If this hasn’t worked for you, the answer might be right in front of you, and it’s a really simple one: your tap water! Sometimes, the most simple solutions are the best ones.
Do you know what’s in your local tap water? I didn’t! I had never thought about it until I noticed a difference in my skin after moving back to the U.S. after living in Europe. While living abroad, my hair would not feel as squeaky clean as it did back at home, but my skin felt wonderful. After a couple of weeks back in the States, my skin felt dry, itchy, and inflamed, and so did my scalp. I used a mild oil-based soap, washed in lukewarm water, slathered on body oils or plant seed butters after showering, and still, hours later, the skin on my legs would still look dull and ashy. I thought about what had changed. Certainly, there was the stress of moving back, but the most logical answer was the water. That’s when I started looking into the quality of my tap water. Which reeked of chlorine as if I was stepping into a pool!
Luckily, it’s very easy to find out what’s in your local tap water! The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, requires local water suppliers to provide homeowners with a Consumer Confidence Report, CCR, which is simply a water quality report. If you rent, you can ask your landlord or building manager for a copy. The report is sent out every July, so now is a great time to get up-to-date information! It won’t work if you have well water though, as that is not regulated by the EPA. You can also have your water tested at a lab (the EPA’s website can help you find a qualified lab in your area).
EWG also has a tap water database where you can enter your zip code and see the top contaminants in your local water. The catch is that it’s still in development, and therefore is not as reliable a method as getting your CCR. It’s still worth it if you’re short on time and just want to get an idea of the average water quality in your area. It will tell you which contaminants are considered to be above the standard health guidelines. This is important, because if you’d like to purchase a shower, faucet, and/or drinking water filter, it’ll help you find one that can filter out the contaminants that are prominent in your local tap water.
I don’t want to get into the risks that are associated with the contaminants in tap water, but as a little warning, you will see those listed on the EWG site. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It really isn’t my style to take action based on risks. That feels stressful to me. I love to take care of my body by doing what feels good to me, not by not doing what might be harmful. Skincare, to me, should come from a place of joy and self-care. If you feel this way too, I want you to just ignore those words and focus on what you hope to get out of this, which is improving your health and that of your skin!
Some of the top contaminants in tap water include:
- Chromium (which you might be familiar with from the movie Erin Brockovich)
- Nitrates/Nitrites (the kind you try avoid in deli meat!)
- Pathogenic bacteria and surrogates
- Pharmaceutical drug contaminants
- Pesticides and volatile compounds
Impressive list, isn’t it? Your water might have some of these contaminants floating around in it, but not to worry! It’s nothing a little filter can’t solve!
I am very enthusiastic about water filters. We use a great filter for drinking water, and it not only tastes great, but is healthy for us and for the environment. Just think of all the bottles of water we save! It’s a good way to save money and become a more sustainable household.
Besides our drinking water, we also have a shower filter. It has really made a difference in the health of my hair and skin. My daughter, who used to suffer from eczema, has also benefited tremendously from the addition of the shower filter (though it was really combination of many lifestyle changes and my formulations that really cleared it up). If they want to take a bath, I fill up the tub using our shower. That way they soak in perfectly healthy water—and it has the added bonus of warming up the room for bath time!
When looking for a water filter, here are the three main things you want to consider:
- What contaminants does the water filter remove? Does the filter remove the most prevalent contaminants in your local tap water, or does it at least remove the most harmful ones? Ask for the laboratory testing results to confirm the information pertinent to the filter you choose.
- For drinking filters, does it meet your family’s consumption rate? (Think about how many cups of water you each drink per day. You want to be sure it can keep up with you!) For shower filters, will it slow your shower’s water flow significantly?
- Is it NSF certified? The NSF is a third-party lab tester that is not for profit. It is reassuring to see their certification that your filter of choice removes certain contaminants.
If you do end up treating yourself to a water filter, I would love to hear how it works for you and if it has made a difference in your skin! Please keep me posted in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe!