You’ve probably read a few things about how New York City tap water is the best in the nation—that may be true, but there are still tons of trace chemicals and bizarre compounds that can do a number on your pretty face. Does that mean we should all buy Evian and bathe in it? Ideal, but not exactly realistic. Here are some specifics on what might be in your water, and four ways to counteract those compounds.
In an analysis of 20 million tap water quality tests performed between 2004 and 2009 by water utilities, Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected 316 contaminants in U.S. water, and these include the toxic rocket fuel component perchlorate, the industrial solvent acetone, the weed killer metolachlor, the refrigerant Freon and radon, a highly radioactive gas. EWG also found pesticides and fertilizers, animal waste, factory discharges and byproducts of water treatments. Yikes.
The effects of polluted water affect us inside and out: “Tap water contains chemicals and heavy metals—chlorine, aluminum, copper, lead, mercury, hormones and nitrates—which can strip skin of moisture and cause it to age faster,” warns board-certified dermatologist, Gary Goldfaden, M.D. “These heavy metals mix with free radicals and attack the collagen in our skin. Once collagen breaks down, skin becomes loose, saggy and wrinkled.” These contaminants can also strip away our hair’s natural color and protective oils, making it dry and dull.
But hold the bottled water: there are more affordable ways to limit, if not to completely eradicate, the exposure to these heavy metals. Here are just a handful of them:
Some water filters, like Jonathan Product Beauty Water Shower Purification System, boast the ability to remove 90 percent of chlorine, heavy metals and harsh chemicals from polluted tap water, softening skin and hair and preventing hair color from fading fast. (Using a shower filter was also an important part of our 365 Days Of Summer Plan! Check it out here.)
If cleansing with unfiltered water still bothers you, you may want to consider products that don’t require rinsing, like a cleansing wipe or a dry shampoo. You can also consider other types of non-traditional waters to cleanse your skin, like a micellar solution.
Since water filters won’t be able to remove all the contaminants from the water, Dr. Goldfaden suggests using gentle hair products that won’t add potentially damaging chemicals like sulfates.
Questionable tap water remains, at least for now, a fact of life, so the best way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of tap water is to bolster its ability to protect itself. Try choosing products designed to nourish, strengthen and protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier. “Look for products that provide superior hydration and protective benefits,” suggests Dr. Goldfaden. “Those that contain antioxidants, hyaluronic acid or ingredients that restore nutrients and boost collagen production.”