Summer is about having fun and taking a load off from school, work, or just from the cold. We are all ready to get our feet wet in the ocean or more so in the pools. Yes, we are more apt to getting into pools during the summer and while that’s fun, it’s harsh on our curls, coils, and waves. The main culprit…chlorine.

“Chlorine is the chemical most often used to keep swimming pools and jacuzzis free of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans. Chlorine kills bacteria through a fairly simple chemical reaction.”  –How Stuff Works

Chlorine keeps water’s pH level between 7 and 8 with an optimal level of 7.4. That is the pH level of human tears. Despite such levels that would seem great for humans, chlorine can be extremely harsh for our hair. Chlorine is overly drying (hence most of us are super ashy when we get out of the pool”>, and it has the sneaky habit of stripping our hair of its natural oils. It literally dissolves the oils that keep our cuticle layers together.

Chlorine is bad business for our tresses, but we can combat its negative effects on our hair by properly preparing our hair before getting in the pool and making sure to cleanse it from our hair ASAP.

Before the swim

Don’t just jump in and expect to fix the problem after you finish your water play. You have to protect your strands before you hit the pool.

  1. Wet your hair thoroughly with tap water. That will keep some of the chlorine from penetrating your hair shaft because your hair has already absorbed the tap water and very little chlorinated water will be able to get in.
  2. Apply a heavy oil like coconut oil to your hair. Coconut oil and olive oil are great options, as they seal your hair’s cuticle. Both oils will try to keep moisture in your hair shaft during your swim.
  3. Apply a conditioner. Choose a cheap conditioner for dry or damaged hair and slather it on. Coat the roots, length, and scalp. It will also help to protect your strands from the harsh pool conditions. Don’t rinse anything out! 
  4. Put your hair up. If you can that is. Put in a bun, in twists, or braids. Twists and braids will help with tangled hair, so if your hair is prone to tangles then make sure to choose these options over the bun. You can also use a swim cap but I’m not a fan of them ( I have bad memories of them while I was a child, don’t mind me”>.

After the swim

It’s time to get your tresses back to normal after your swim. Hope you had fun because it’s time for work now!

  1. Rinse hair thoroughly. It really does get rid of some of the chemicals before they get a chance to bind to your hair. The longer the better, but a good 3 to 5 minutes is a good time to work with.
  2. Detangle before you shampoo. This will prevent excessive matting. The combination of chlorine and entangled shed hairs is quite the headache to detangle. Applying conditioner or oil to lubricate for detangling prior to shampoo will help prevent potential of excessive matting from the suds from the shampoo.
  3. Cleanse and condition well. Use a sulfate-free shampoo and follow up with conditioner! Use the good stuff, your primo stash (we all have one”>. This is not the time for the cheap conditioner that you used earlier. Make sure to deep condition each and every time you finish from a swim and yes, even if you swim every day.
  4. Steer clear of certain styles. Steer clear of heat styles after swimming. This will combat dryness so air drying and no heat styles are best. Skip the blow-dryers, flat-irons, and any direct heat for a few days. If you are in the water regularly, then try no-heat for the summer to give your hair a fighting chance against the dryness.

It may seem extreme but when the summer is over and your hair is damage free and lovely, you will be thankful for taking out the time to keep your hair healthy and happy all summer long.

How do you prepare your hair before swimming? What do you do afterwards?