Even though most of us are long past school age, you don’t need three months of dedicated summer vacation to find time to enjoy the season. One of the most accessible ways to relax during the summer is taking a dip in the pool, where you can enjoy some fresh air and outdoor time while still beating the heat. But as much as we advocate for indulging in some pool time, the same chlorine that keeps your pool water disinfected can also have some pretty negative effects on your hair.
Here are some of the most common effects that chlorine can have on your hair:
Beyond the most well-known effects of chlorine on our hair, there are also things happening below the surface.
Since no one deserves to spend a summer indoors or sweltering in the heat, we don’t want to scare you away from going near swimming pools ever again. You can still enjoy this seasonal pastime as much as you’d like — there are just a few adjustments you can make to your routine to ensure your hair is as prepped and prepared as possible. After rounding up your sunscreen, swimsuit and towel, make sure you follow these precautions before hitting the pool to make sure your hair is properly protected against chlorine.
The easiest way to avoid soaking up chlorinated pool water? Make sure your hair is wet before you jump in! By saturating your hair with fresh water, it becomes less absorbent than dry hair. This will help to stop your strands from soaking in any additional damaging pool water.
If you want to keep your hair dry and protect it from chlorine, invest in a swim cap. This is an excellent way to really protect your hair across the board: you’re keeping it snug and dry away from the harsh effects of chlorine, potential tangles, breakage, and sun damage. If you’re unsure where to begin, check out thesebest-selling swim caps on Amazon.
Applying olive, coconut oil or another organic hair oil to your hair before your next swim helps to form a protective barrier that prevents chlorine damage. These nourishing oils are also great for overall hair health, so you’re actively working towards healthier, shinier strands.
Applying a pre-swim conditioner can help to seal the cuticle and form another kind of protective barrier against chlorine and damage.
photo by @goldandglowco
Even with the previously mentioned precautions, there are still some additional steps you can take after swimming to ensure chlorine won’t damage your hair.
Your post-pool shower should include a clarifying shampoo, which can help remove any stubborn chlorine deposits on your hair. These shampoos are also great for removing any additional residue or product build up that may have been weighing your hair down. If you don’t have clarifying shampoo on hand after swimming, use any sulfate-free shampoo or just rinse your hair with fresh water to remove some of the chlorine present on your strands.
We know that chlorine can make your hair more susceptible to damage and breakage, so it's especially important to be gentle with your hair after a swim. Microfiber towels are kinder on strands, since they absorb excessive water without being as rough as traditional cotton towels. Be sure to detangle your hair carefully with a comb, and always use a heat protectant spray if you plan on heat styling your hair after.
Every hair type can benefit from a rich conditioner or weekly leave-in hair mask treatment, and this is especially true for hair exposed to chlorinated pools. After showering with your clarifying shampoo, apply a nourishing hair mask to your strands: this will help to restore lost moisture, hydrating and giving softness and movement back to strands after chlorine dries them out. Using a leave-in hair milk after your swim is also a great thing for your hair, since it helps to detangle while moisturizing and softening your hair.
Summer is all about finding time to unwind, so the last thing you need is to worry about hair damage every time you step outside. Start by wetting your hair with freshwater or a protective hair oil before your next swim — or just make it easy on yourself and wear a protective swim cap. Make sure your post-swim shower includes a clarifying shampoo and restorative conditioner to strip any residual chlorine deposits and bring back essential moisture and nutrients into your strands. Just keep these tips in mind the next time you take a dip in the pool, and you’ll significantly decrease your chances of chlorine damaging your hair. And since keeping your hair healthy is another great way to protect it against chlorine damage, be sure to read our blog post on healthy hair care tips. If you have any additional tricks that have helped to protect your hair against chlorine damage, be sure to share them in the comments below!
By Lauren Hannel, staff contributor