Showering with hard water requires more soap and leaves a residue of minerals on the skin, while soft water requires less soap to lather and leaves skin smoother and cleaner. Soft water can leave the skin harder to dry off, but soap is harder to rinse off in hard water.
The excess minerals in hard water (iron, dissolved calcium and/or magnesium) make it less solvent, which is why it takes more soap and shampoo to shower with hard water. Clogged skin pores and bacteria carried by hard water frequently cause skin irritations like diaper rash and dermatitis. Soft water leaves the body cleaner, often with a slippery feeling on the skin. This temporary feeling is caused by body oils that occur naturally and are not being blocked by excess minerals. Hair may be shinier and more manageable when shampooed in soft water, and razors can cut closer to the skin.
The minerals in hard water can build up inside pipes and water heaters, decreasing the water flow and increasing the cost of water heating. Hard water can also be over-softened due to faulty water softeners, reducing its ability to stick to soap molecules and making it harder to rinse off.