Lets talk about water!
We know that staying hydrated and drinking a good amount of water everyday not only helps your skin but your overall health. But what about the water used to wash your skin, hair, clothes, dishes, etc? The water you're using may be the culprit behind your dry and irritated skin and scalp problems!
Unless you are familiar with hard and soft water then you might not be aware of the effects that hard water can have on your body and home.
Hard vs. Soft Water
The main difference between hard and soft water is the concentration of minerals. Hard water forms from groundwater that passes through soil and picks up minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Higher levels of minerals = hard water.
As it comes out of your faucets, the minerals in the hard water can coat your surfaces as well as your skin and hair. There can be some obvious residue left from hard water like soap scum and limescale, but it can also be problematic to your hair and leave your skin dry and irritated. Minerals from the hard water can create a barrier so that product's cant penetrate through the follicles. Same with your skin, minerals can be deposited on the skin and affect moisture levels and clog pores -- being especially problematic to people with sensitive skin.
Unless you have a water softening system already present in your home then you have hard water.
Soft water does not contain the high concentrations of minerals because the water passes through a filtration system where minerals like calcium and magnesium are removed while chloride/sodium replaces them. Because of the higher sodium content it can be an issue for people who require a low-sodium diet, if they are drinking the water -- but this can be managed by specific water softening systems.
Which Should you Use?
There are not any specific life-threatening outcomes of using hard water, if it doesn't cause you any irritation or negatively affect your home then it is still safe to use.
It is really a personal preference, water softeners are not a mandatory thing. If you think you are experiencing negative impacts from hard water then looking into a water softening system may be beneficial.
But there is controversy surrounding them, they produce chloride which in turn can be toxic to the environment. Determine if you really need to make the switch, if you do be conscious about the amount of salt used -- only soften water that is necessary to soften.