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Water softeners and cosmetic efficacy

This weekend I was visiting my parents and as always (because I'm high maintenance) bring my own body wash, and shampoo & conditioner.  My parents have a water softener and I noticed that the water feels like oil and it makes any soap feel like you have to rinse for 4 hours to get the soap off of you.  Also, it makes my shampoo and conditioner work differently than it does in my harder water own home.  Does water hardness effect the efficacy of products?  Do formulators account for differences in water softness when formulating products?  For what it's worth, I prefer the hard water!  I guess as long as I am not using any alkaline products on my body or hair I don't see the issue with hard water. 


  • Depending on the type of surfactant used, hard water ions can cause loss of cleansing efficacy and can cause the classic "bath tub ring." This was a big problem back when everyone used true bar soaps. Most modern surfactants aren't bothered much by water ions. 
  • How about ionic conditioning agents, are they affected by water hardness?
  • Not to my knowledge. 
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