How To Protect Your Hair From Chlorine Pools

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Swimming has many benefits for the body and the mind, making it the perfect low-impact exercise for burning fat, conditioning muscles, and boosting resistance. A 2014 study in The American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology also suggests that swimming helps increase cognitive functions, promotes brain health, and reduces stress. Although being in the pool is an excellent way to improve your well-being, the chlorine added for bacterial control can spell troubles for your hair and skin. If you want to splish splash to the max without sacrificing your hair, you'll need to observe some essential do's and don'ts, such as wearing a swim cap and rinsing your hair before a dip.


A disinfectant and bleaching agent, chlorine can suck natural oils out of your hair, drying it out and making it more vulnerable to breakage. Chlorine is the archenemy of chemically treated hair. If you have colored hair, the chlorine will bond with the artificial color and suck it out of your hair strand. Furthermore, the interaction between copper and chlorinated water can create a blue-green sheen on your hair's surface. If your scalp is sensitive, frequent exposure to chlorine can turn it into a hotbed of dandruff. All in all, chlorine damages hair, so check out tips on protecting your tresses in a chlorinated pool.

Rinse your hair before swimming

A useful way to stave off chlorine damage is to wash your hair for a few minutes with tap water before diving into the pool. Chlorine will not be able to penetrate your hair and cause substantial damage when it's already soaked with water, explains Clinical Dermatologist Dr. Vergara-Wijangco to Vegamour. The ability of the hair to absorb water and other environmental elements makes it as absorbent as a sponge, and it will suck up chlorinated water to quench its thirst when it is dry. Pre-soaking it with clean water first will make it less porous and more difficult for the harsh chemicals in the pool to permeate the hair shaft. 


The same rule applies to your skin. You should always shower and wash your face before diving into the pool. If the skin is dry, it will quickly absorb the chlorinated water, which can penetrate deeper layers of the skin and cause more damage. After getting out of the pool, wash your tresses with a clarifying shampoo and rinse thoroughly to prevent the harsh chemicals from sitting on your hair.   

Wear a swim cap

Wearing a swim cap before diving into the swimming hole is the easiest and safest way to protect your hair from the harsh chemicals added to the pool to a certain extent. However, keep in mind that a swim cap is not airtight and chlorinated water can still seep into it if you're diving, so you'll still need to wash your hair thoroughly after getting out of the pool. A swim cap also helps you navigate pool activities with safety and confidence. It helps to keep your hair out of your face, enabling you to glide through the water without having to windshield-wipe your tresses from your eyes after every stroke. If you're wearing earplugs, covering your ears with a swim cap can help prevent water from entering your ears. 


Swim caps come in different shapes and sizes. If you tend to get chilly in the water, opt for a silicone cap or a neoprene cap with a thicker fit that helps trap heat and keep you warm. If you have long hair or your head gets hot and stuffy easily, a latex swim cap with lighter, more breathable material and a more generous fit will suit you better.

Apply leave-in conditioner before entering the pool

After wetting your hair and before putting on your swim cap, apply a generous amount of leave-in conditioner to your hair for added protection. Pre-conditioning your hair before swimming helps to create a defense layer around your hair strands to block harsh substances in the pool and the open water from your hair shafts. Besides, a leave-in conditioner packed with hydrating ingredients can help moisturize your hair while in the water and prevent it from drying afterward. Spritzing your wet hair with a swim spray also helps to protect your hair from the damaging substances in the pool and prevent your hair color from fading.  


After getting out of the pool, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo and follow with a conditioner to replenish the moisture lost from exposure to chlorine and UV rays. If you swim daily, consider using a conditioner formulated with swimmer-friendly benefits, such as removing chlorine, preserving hair color, and hydrating hair strands. After your shower, gently comb your hair with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to detangle it without inducing breakage.

Use coconut oil to create a protective barrier

Infusing your locks with a natural oil — like coconut oil — can help guard against chlorinated water. Since chlorine can deprive your hair of its natural oils, slathering up with coconut oil before dipping into the pool can help create an extra layer of anti-chlorine defense. You can think coconut oil as the protective barrier between your hair and chlorine.  


Numerous natural oils can nourish and strengthen your hair. Still, coconut oil is particularly good at lowering the chlorinated water your hair absorbs and minimizing daily damage while moisturizing your mane. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Trichology notes that coconut oil was the only oil that could stop protein loss and is particularly useful as a pre-and post-wash grooming treatment for both damaged and undamaged hair. Additionally, coconut oil has the same properties as natural hair proteins and the capacity to permeate the hair shaft to release therapeutic effects. 

Before entering the pool, massage a decent amount of coconut oil in your hair, starting at the base and continuing to the hair ends. You can use coconut oil in place of a leave-in conditioner. If you don't have time to rinse your hair, apply coconut oil to the strands instead.