Oh hai, I have more important stuff to do but I'm trying to avoid it, so I made you a gigantic, overly detailed post!

Swimming in the ocean can make hair feel amazing and give you beautiful curls... for a day or two. Seawater is highly damaging to hair! It leaves behind mineral deposits that harden and dry out your hair, and the salt is so abrasive that it tears at your hair. Chlorine also leaves mineral deposits on your hair, as well as stripping oils and disturbing protein bonds.

So, whether you're dealing with chlorine or seawater, you should do the following:
  1. Before swimming, detangle your hair and tie it in a bun, ponytail, or braid. This will reduce tangling and matting from chlorine and seawater. Ideally, wear a swim cap.
  2. After swimming, thoroughly rinse your hair with freshwater and gently detangle. This is especially important after swimming in the ocean! Seawater should never be allowed to dry on hair, so be sure to rinse your hair while it's still wet.
  3. Remove the minerals deposits from chlorine and seawater with a chelating shampoo.
Wait, isn't shampoo the devil? And don't chelating shampoos contain ~sulfates~ ?!? Swimming presents special circumstances where the benefits of shampoo outweigh the costs. Chlorine and seawater coat hair with a mineral film that's both damaging and difficult to remove. Like it or not, the only real way to get rid of it is with chelating shampoos. Not all chelating shampoos are labeled as such, so just look for common chelating ingredients like EDTA, sodium citrate, and trisodium phosphate. A lot of cheap drugstore shampoos are actually chelating! You should also use them about once a month if you have hard water.

Some other tips:
  1. Before your vacation, get your hair in extra-good shape by using moisturizing and/or protein deep treatments.
  2. Limit absorption of chlorine and seawater by drenching your with freshwater right before you swim. If your hair is already sopping wet, it will have difficulty absorbing additional water. You can also enhance the drenching with a light coating conditioner. (I think sealing with coconut oil would work even better.)
  3. Limit keratin damage by covering hair with a hat, scarf, or swim cap. UV rays break down the protein bonds in your hair.
  4. Replace oils stripped by chlorine and chelating by using richer moisturizing conditioners/ treatments than usual. You can use them more frequently, too.
  5. Compensate for protein lost to chlorine and UV rays by patching your hair with protein conditioners and/or reconstructors. The effects of protein products are always temporary, but you can maintain them through regular use. You'll probably need to follow them up with a moisturizing conditioner.
This post is my interpretation of information from the book Hair Care Rehab, which I highly recommend. Currently the Kindle version costs only 10 bucks. Citation: Davis-Sivasothy, Audrey (2012). Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair & Reconditioning Manual. Saja Publishing Company.

Last edited by Eilonwy; 02-24-2013 at 04:03 PM.