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Is Your Shower Messing With Your Hair?

You might need a metal detox to reverse the damage.

Collage of Metal Detox Hair Products

There are a lot of potential culprits that can cause hair damage—bleach, external elements like the sun, and hot tools are the usual suspects. But it turns out there might be another suspect that’s stressing your hair out and causing it to look dull and feel like straw: your shower. Well, more specifically, your shower water. Yes, the call is literally coming from inside your house. Tiny metal particles in our water can latch onto hair strands and impact the way they look and feel. I’m sure you have lots of questions about exactly how this process works and what you can do to reverse the damage, so we have answers. Ahead, we reached out to a hair expert to explain how metals damage hair, what metal buildup looks like, and how to get rid of the metal particles in your hair.

How Do Metals Damage Hair?

The water that comes out of your showerhead travels through pipes or it’s chlorinated—either way, it’s treated in some manner or another, says Michelle Hong, colorist and founder of NYC The Team hair salon. “The water usually has metals such as copper and iron, and these metals latch onto hair fibers,” explains Hong. “When that happens, hair has a tendency to look brassy and dull, and feel brittle and dry.”

The quality of the water coming out of your pipes really depends on where you live. “When people travel and start complaining about their hair texture or color changing, that’s usually from all the metals in the water,” shares Hong.

What Does Metal Buildup Look Like?

How can you tell if your hair is overloaded with metal? “Metal buildup can change your hair color,” explains Hong. “If your hair turns green or if your hair starts to turn brassy, that’s a sign of metal buildup.” Hong says that hair can also feel really dry and brittle, especially on the ends, to the point where hydrating masks or treatments don’t help it to feel better. You could also notice more damage or breakage while styling your hair.

What Removes Metals from Hair?

So what actually works to reverse metal buildup? You have a couple of options. One is to attach a filter to your showerhead to remove metals from the water. You can also ask your hairstylist to do a metal detox treatment. “It’s basically a spray that neutralizes the metal in the hair fiber before you start your service,” explains Hong. “Then your hair is cleansed with a sulfate-free metal detox shampoo, followed by a deep mask. This doesn’t just remove the metals from your hair, it also makes your hair feel less brittle and helps manage breakage.”

There are also products you can use at home if your hair’s in need of a metal detox. Keep reading for the best metal detox hair products to add to your haircare routine.

Metal Detox Leave-In Repair Styling Cream

This leave-in styling cream is a triple threat. It blocks damaging metals from penetrating strands, works as a heat protectant, and smoothes frizz and flyaways.

L'Oréal Professionnel

PEPTIDE PREP™ Clarifying Detox Shampoo

Thanks to the peptides in the formula, this clarifying shampoo relinks protein bonds to strengthen damaged, brittle hair. That’s not all the shampoo has to offer—you’ll also find activated charcoal and salicylic acid inside the bottle to help remove excess oils and product buildup without drying hair.

K18 Biomimetic Hairscience

Filtered Showerhead

Swap out your standard showerhead for this filtered one. It’s designed to sift out chlorine and heavy metals, like magnesium and iron, to keep your hair soft, strong, and buildup-free.


Metal Detox Hair Oil

This multitasking oil softens and detangles hair while also acting as a shield against those annoying metals in your water. It gives hair a mirror-like shine without leaving it greasy or heavy.

L'Oréal Professionnel

Bonding Mask

Formulated with amino acids, Verb’s Bonding Mask gets into hair at a cellular level to mend and strengthen broken protein bonds. Plus, it’s formulated with mafura butter and manketti seed oil, two ingredients that work to soothe and smooth hair.


Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo

Not only does this clarifying shampoo remove metals like copper, iron, magnesium, and calcium, but it also sloughs off product build-up, dirt, and oils and leaves your hair squeaky clean without stripping it dry.


Metal Detox Hair Mask

This hydrating hair mask does it all—it penetrates the hair strand to get rid of metal particles, protects against future metal damage, infuses the hair with moisture, and restores it with some much-needed flexibility and shine.

L'Oréal Professionnel
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