How To Protect The Hair While Swimming Every Day

Written by Anjali Sayee

Swimming is a fun activity that relaxes and rejuvenates the body. But if you are a frequent swimmer, the chlorinated pool water might wreak havoc on your hair. It damages the hair cuticles, leading to split ends and breakage. To prevent this, proper pre and post swimming hair care is essential. This article covers a few tips and tricks to protect your hair while swimming. Scroll down for a detailed guide!

Hair Care For Swimmers – Tips To Protect It From Chlorinated Water

Pre-Swimming Hair Care

  • Oil Your Hair

Oiling is the primary and most important step to protect the hair from chlorinated water. Oil penetrates the hair shaft, prevents water from entering into the cuticle, and lowers hygral fatigue (swelling and drying of the cuticle). Oil can fill the gaps between the cuticle cells and prevent chlorine from entering into the cuticles (1).

Applying oil before swimming forms a protective layer on the scalp and makes the hair waterproof. It also prevents leaching of hair color and keeps blonde color from turning green. Use coconut or olive oils to nourish and hydrate the hair during and after swimming.

Applying coconut oil (rich in lauric acid) cab help prevent protein loss caused by chlorine water and reduce further damage (2). Massage coconut oil gently on damp hair to protect it from chlorinated water.

  • Take A Quick Shower With Non-Chlorinated Water

Taking a shower can help prevent chlorinated water from penetrating the hair. Wet hair with an oil coating absorbs less chlorine from the pool water, reducing hair breakage and damage.

  • Apply Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is a humectant that protects the hair from chlorine water damage. It not only nourishes your hair but also forms a protective layer against chlorine and other harmful chemicals in the pool.

A leave-in conditioner neutralizes the electrical negative charge of the hair fibers by adding positive charge and lubricates the hair cuticles, making them hydrophobic (waterproof) (1). It mimics the hair natural lipid content, seals the cuticle, and minimizes frizz and breakage.

  • Spritz Some Hairspray

If you are into outdoor swimming, use a sun protectant hair spray. A hairspray with botanical ingredients nourishes the hair and protects it from UVA and UVB sun damage. It also prevents the fading of hair color.

Hair Care While Swimming

  • Wear A Swimming Cap

Wearing a swimming cap is probably the best way to protect the hair from the damage caused by chlorinated water. It covers the entire head, prevents contact with water, and keeps the hair dry. The interesting part is that it has a utilitarian and fashionable approach. You can protect the hair and also match the cap color with your swim wear.

Note: If you are not comfortable with wearing a swimming cap, tie your hair on the top of the head and avoid dampening it as much as possible.

Post-Swimming Hair Care

  • Wash Your Hair Thoroughly

Rinse your hair immediately after swimming. It helps clear the buildup of chlorine and other harmful chemicals. A quick shower removes salt water (in case of outdoor swimming) and all the residue from the scalp.

  • Shampoo Your Hair

Chlorine deposition is a disaster for your hair texture and color. Even saltwater bleaches blonde hair, making it dry and frizzy. The best way to rinse the buildup is by using an anti-chlorine shampoo. It not only removes excess deposits from the hair and scalp but also nourishes the tresses.

  • Apply A Deep Conditioner

A deep conditioner fights dryness, adds moisture, and nourishes the hair. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner for extra nourishment and shine.

  • Comb Your Tresses

Combing with a wide-toothed brush controls frizz and is an easy way to detangle your hair without pain. It loosens the tension built up in the hair and reduces breakage.

There are certain things you should avoid in post-swimming hair care. Check out the following section to know more!

Things To Avoid In Post-Swimming Hair Care

  • Avoid Dryers Post-Swimming

Blow drying further damages the hair and makes it dehydrated. It is better to towel dry your hair and let it dry naturally.

  • Avoid Washing The Hair More Than Once A Day

Though shampooing the hair helps keep the scalp healthy and oil-free, doing it more than once a day might make your hair dry and brittle.

Scroll down to find how chlorine and saltwater can damage the hair.

How Chlorine And Saltwater Damage The Hair

Chlorine water can turn the hair (and blonde hair) green. It reacts with hair keratin and forms water-soluble chemicals that bond with the hair fiber, resulting in hair breakage, dryness, and hair loss.

The chlorine and other chemicals in the pool strip the scalp’s natural oils and make the hair dry and frizzy. Regular exposure to chlorinated water increases the hair porosity and causes swelling of the scalp, leading to intense damage (1).

Chlorine and saltwater affect color-treated hair. They dry out the hair and wick off natural oils from the scalp. A study on Japanese elite swimmers shows that hydrochloric acid in pool water penetrates deeply into the hair cortex. This leads to the oxidation and degeneration of melanosome (a pigment responsible for the hair color) (3). If your scalp is sensitive, chlorine may cause itchiness and scalp inflammation.

Swimming is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. But don’t forget to take care of your hair while indulging in this activity. The tips mentioned above can help solve your hair care woes related to swimming. Follow them and flap away in the pool happily.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should a swimmer wash their hair?

Swimmers need not wash their hair regularly. Washing the hair two to three times a week with a shampoo and conditioner can help remove the chlorine buildup.

Can I go swimming if I dyed my hair?

Yes, you can go swimming if you have bleached or dyed your hair. Follow the tips mentioned in the article to prevent the hair color from fading.

What is the best hairstyle for swimming?

Braids, ponytails, and top knots are the best hairstyles for swimming as they decrease the contact area and protect the hair.


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Anjali Sayee is a writer and an introvert. From studying Aeronautical Engineering and wanting to design her own airplane to writing articles on hairstyles, she has been on quite a journey. She believes that hair is one of the key factors that define a woman’s personality. To quote her, “What’s the first thing they do in the movies to show a personality change? Change the hair – because it has a life of its own.” She’s here to help you find the hairstyle you need. This bookworm is a self-professed Wholocker, a talented drummer, and an amateur photographer.