Summer days are incomplete without spending time swimming. It’s a fun activity for your friends and family. Swimming pools, however, are maintained with one substance that can wreak havoc on your hair: chlorine.
What Is Chlorine?
Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant dissolved in pool water to kill bacteria. It protects swimmers from diseases and infections, keeping the water safe for swimming. Without chlorine, you’d end up swimming in a filthy pool, which, of course, isn’t very appealing.
Chlorine isn’t safe for your hair though. It dries out your hair shaft, which makes the hair coarse and prone to breakage. In addition, it removes the sebum, which also causes the strands to crack and dry out. As a result, your hair becomes brittle and frizzy, which will lead to breakage, split ends, and loss of shine.
The longer you leave chlorine on your hair, the bigger the harm it brings. And so, your hair should be protected to shield it from possible damage.
Dealing With Chlorine Damage
Don’t let the chlorine take the fun out of swimming and summer time. Let chlorine be harsh on bacteria but not on your hair. Here are some steps you could take to protect your hair from chlorine damage.
Wet your hair first before diving in
Your hair is like a sponge. It soaks in liquid fast. Wet hair is known to be less absorbent compared to dry hair. If your hair is wet and filled with clean water, then the chlorinated water will find it difficult to work its way into your hair and cause damage.
This is why no matter how excited you are, you still shouldn’t forget to wet your hair first before you dive in. It would have absorbed fresh water before it gets exposed to chlorine-treated water.
Take a shower to prepare your hair and skin for swimming. Both your skin and your hair will thank you.
Coat Hair with Olive (or Coconut) Oil
Coat your hair with oils such as olive oil and coconut oil prior to swimming. Oils prevent the chlorine from penetrating or even coming in contact with your hair. In addition, the oils reinforce the sebum produced by the scalp, so that even though the hair gets submerged in chlorinated water, it won’t be damaged.
Olive oil nourishes the hair; it’s natural so it won’t weigh the hair down. Coconut oil works as a great alternative because it not only nourishes the hair but also moisturizes it. A lot choose coconut oil rather than olive oil because the former is less expensive than the other.
Make sure to apply olive or coconut oil on your scalp and on the tips of your hair. If you can, cover your head as well, because oil can cook your hair under the heat of the sun.
Wear a Swimming Cap
A swimming cap also offers a layer of protection in addition to your hair care routine.
Wearing a swimming cap will shield your hair from chlorine and protect your hair from the elements. It will also keep your hair in place, which is perfect for those who are training or want to try a few good laps in the pool. Swim caps are reusable and cheap. Most of them may not block the water entirely, but they will slow down the process.
For further protection, apply deep conditioner (or oils as mentioned above) on your hair before wearing the cap. All of your hair should be tucked to make sure it will all be protected as you swim.
Hate Swim Caps? Style Hair Instead
It’s okay if you’re not fond of swimming caps; you can just pin your hair back or style your hair in a protective hairstyle such as braided pigtails or French braids to limit the hair’s exposure to chlorine as much as possible. This will also make the hair less prone to tangling and/or breakage.
You can also pull your hair up in a knot or in a tight bun. If you’re just by the pool, then you can just tie the hair in a ponytail or even use a scarf or hat to lessen the exposure.
Rinse Your Hair Immediately
Rinse your hair right away after swimming. If you can’t, just make sure to wash your hair with clean water as soon as possible. Not washing your hair immediately will make chlorine stick on your hair and harder to remove. You can even rinse your hair in between dips to the pool to help flush chlorine and other chemicals in your hair.
Use tepid tap water in washing your hair to remove as much chlorine as possible. This will prevent the residual chemicals and metals from building up and even help the hair keep its strength.
Other than rinsing your hair with water, you can also wash your hair with clarifying shampoo to get rid of chlorine. Clarifying shampoos deep cleanse to remove chemicals that are damaging to your hair. For best results, use a deep conditioner.
Kitchen Items to the Rescue
Sometimes washing your hair with water doesn’t do the trick when it comes to chlorine damage. In times like these, kitchen items such as baking soda and apple cider vinegar will come to your rescue.
- Baking Soda
Baking soda is one household item that you can use to remove chlorine buildup. It can absorb the chlorine, decrease its damage, and help in the hair’s recovery.
To prevent chlorine from damaging your hair further once you’re done swimming, sprinkle baking soda on your hair. Spread an amount that’s enough to cover your entire head. Use either club soda or non-chlorinated water to rinse it out.
Another alternative is to add baking soda to your usual shampoo. You can shampoo your hair as usual. This method can be done once a week.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Another item that you can use is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a natural clarifier that helps remove any buildup that chlorine and other commercial products have left behind. Vinegar can also restore the shine of your hair.
You can perform an apple cider vinegar rinse by mixing one part of apple cider vinegar with four parts of water. Pour the mixture over your hair and afterwards, rinse clean with cold water to seal hair cuticles and prevent further damage.
Would you have thought eggs can also help you treat your chlorine-damaged hair? Eggs are largely made of protein, so they can strengthen the hair and make it smooth and shiny.
You can prepare an egg treatment for chlorine damage. Just mix a beaten egg with a tablespoon of honey and plain yogurt, and then pour it onto clean and damp hair. Massage the mixture onto the hair, and then wear a shower cap. Let sit for 30 minutes and rinse with cold water.
These – baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and eggs – are just some of the household items that you can use to treat chlorine damage. Using those items is an effective yet inexpensive way of managing hair that’s exposed to chlorine.
Be Gentle on Your Hair
Don’t be too harsh on your hair. Be gentle, which means that when drying, you should just be squeezing your hair rather than rubbing it using your towel.
Done swimming? Don’t reach out for that brush; choose the wide-toothed comb instead. Using a wide-toothed comb will easily untangle your hair without resulting to a “tug-of-war” between you and your hair. It loosens tension and reduces hair breakage.
As much as possible, don’t use a blow dryer to dry your hair. Doing so will even add to the damages that your hair is dealing with. It will also take away the moisture that you’ve tried so hard to restore.
Trim Your Hair
The ends of your hair often deal with the most damage. It’s also the first to show signs of dryness. If you’ve noticed that the chlorine damage on your hair is already way difficult to repair, then you might have to resort to “extreme” measures such as cutting your hair.
You don’t have to chop them off; having your hairstylist cut an inch or two is just fine. Your hair will grow back and look healthier. Following the tips given above will assure you that you don’t have to ever cut your hair out just because of chlorine damage.
DON’T LET CHLORINE WIN
The main task of chlorine is to make sure that swimming pools are clean and not infested by germs and bacteria. It does this task perfectly; however, it comes with unfortunate consequences to the hair and skin. These “unfortunate consequences” can be avoided, so you shouldn’t stay away from swimming and spending time by the pool.
Swimming is a healthy activity and is a form of exercise; it’s also a good way to unwind. Don’t let chlorine spoil your plans of having fun. So long as you’re going to take note of the steps given here in protecting your hair from chlorine damage, then you’ll be just fine.