How to Protect your Hair from Chlorine Damage

By Jannina M. Londono

SwimJim Lifeguard and Instructor-in-training  

Love to swim but hate the effect the chlorine has on your hair? Well, now you can learn to protect your hair before, during and after swimming. Let’s start by explaining what chlorine is and why it’s in the pool to begin with. Chlorine is used as a water disinfectant, and without it, you wouldn’t want to swim in the pool to begin with! Chlorine helps keep the water safe and clean enough to swim in. Short, occasional exposures to chlorine won’t cause much damage to your hair, but overtime it can lead to dryness or change the tone of dyed hair.

Here are three basic tips that are absolutely FREE and can help you protect your hair!

  1. Your hair is very porous so if you thoroughly wet your hair in the shower or with clean tap water BEFORE entering the pool, your hair will be full of water and thus absorb less of the chlorine! Because of this fact, running sunscreen or Vaseline through your hair BEFORE entering the pool will coat your hair and help prevent the absorption of chlorine while also providing moisture. Rinse hair AFTER swimming! Rinsing your hair immediately after swimming can help wash away the bulk of the chlorine and any other dirt or bacteria that was picked up in the pool.
  2. Chlorine build-up can lead to limp, dry and dull hair. Using an apple cider vinegar rinse can help restore life and moisture to your hair within minutes. To safely rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar, you should mix four parts water to one part vinegar in a spray bottle. You should then spray your scalp generously and work into your hair with your fingers or a comb. Let the vinegar mixture sit for three to five minutes (depending on the length and thickness of your hair) and then rinse with cold water. Follow with a light conditioner and rinse well.
  3. Wear a swim cap! This may sound very obvious, but it really can significantly decrease the amount of chlorine your hair absorbs. And if you thoroughly wet your hair before putting on the cap, even better!

Here are three products that you can use to increase the protection on your hair!

  1. Chlorine-removing shampoos can be very helpful if used after swimming. These shampoos focus on removing any chlorine deposits left on the hair and some also help restore moisture as well. Ultraswim chlorine-removing shampoo has had great results and Fairy Tales Brand is great for kids hair (and adults too)!
  2. Leave-in conditioners are great to apply to wet hair after shampooing. This helps restore the moisture that was lost due to the chlorine and helps protect the hair from further damage. CHI silk infusion is a great leave-in conditioner that can be applied to dry hair before swimming and wet hair after!
  3. Lastly, if your hair is very dry or damaged you may want to talk to your hair stylist about getting a Moroccan oil treatment done. This is a great treatment to restore large amounts of moisture to your hair as well as restoring shine and overall health.

Don’t let chlorine damage get in the way of swimming! The damage is very preventable and treatable and we hope this tips will help you!