How To Protect The Hair While Swimming Every Day

Put an end to the worries about your tresses with these tips as you swim your heart out.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Meena Konada, MBBS, DDVL Dr. Meena Konada Dr. Meena KonadaMBBS, DDVL facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Krati Darak MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years

Swimming is an enjoyable exercise that helps the body relax and refresh. However, if you swim frequently, the chlorine water can affect your hair and result in split ends and breakage. If you have been wondering how to protect your hair while swimming, we have you covered. Appropriate pre- and post-swimming hair care methods are vital to prevent any damage. This article will provide you with a few pointers on how to keep your hair safe while swimming. Scroll down for a complete guide on how you can protect your tresses while you swim without worry!

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

Pre-Swimming Hair Care

Woman oiling her hair before diving into the pool
Image: Shutterstock
  • 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, lowering the chances of 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 a swimmer’s hair oil before swimming forms a protective layer on the hair 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) can help prevent protein loss caused by chlorine in the water and reduce further hair damage (2). Massage coconut oil gently onto the damp hair to protect it from chlorinated water.

A study, conducted between October 2016-2017, showed that out of the 1899 individuals, 327 (17.2%) reported trying standardized scalp massages(SSM). Among them, 68.9% reported either stabilization of hair loss or regrowth.

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You can also use thick carrier oils like olive oil or castor oil to coat your hair and protect it from chlorinated water.
  • Take A Quick Shower With Non-Chlorinated Water

Showering immediately post swimming can help prevent chlorinated water from penetrating the hair. Wetting hair with an oil coating absorbs less chlorine from the pool water, preventing hair damage.

  • Apply Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner is a humectanti  A widely used ingredient in hair products that helps to keep the tresses hydrated by drawing moisture from the environment. 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 lipidi  The fatty acid layer over the hair shaft that protects it from external damage, contributing to the health, strength, and luster of the hair. content, seals the cuticle, and minimizes frizz and breakage.

  • Spritz Some Hairspray

If you are into outdoor swimming, use an SPF hair spray for sun protection. 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. You can also use a hat or a scarf when you are not in the water.

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You can use a hair protective or pre-swimming chlorine protective spray that coats your strands and protects it from the effects of chlorinated water.

Hair Care While Swimming

Woman tucking her hair under the swimming cap
Image: Shutterstock
  • Wear A Swimming Cap

Wearing a swimming cap or a hair wrap 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 swimwear.

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

  • Wear Protective Hairstyles

If you swim daily, choose hairstyles that keep your hair secure and minimize tangling and damage from chlorine and water. Low buns, braids, twist braids, or high ponytails are good options to wear underneath the swim cap. You can also apply some protective gel to prevent the chlorine and water from damaging your tresses.

  • Choose Outdoor Pools

Swimming in outdoor pools is better for your hair than indoor pools because the chlorine evaporates more quickly into the air, lowering its concentration in the water. This may reduce the amount of chlorine that could be absorbed by your hair and skin, making it a healthier and better option when available. However, avoid swimming outdoors when its very sunny.

Post-Swimming Hair Care

Woman shampooing to wash chlorine from her hair after swimming
Image: Shutterstock
  • 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 or swimmer’s shampoo. It not only removes excess deposits from the hair and the scalp but also nourishes the tresses.

  • Apply A Deep Conditioner

A deep conditioner can fight dryness, moisturize, and nourish the hair. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner or swimmer’s conditioner for extra nourishment and shine. A deep conditioning mask or a swimmer’s hair mask is also a great option to restore nourishment.

Anna, a beauty and lifestyle vlogger, recommends always taking a deep conditioner along and using it immediately after rinsing the hair after a swim. She states, “Allowing my hair to soak up some conditioner oil on my way home just makes it so much easier to detangle while I’m in the shower or after the shower. And it really helps to bring moisture back into my hair (i).”

  • 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

Woman is using towel for hair drying
Image: Shutterstock
  • Avoid Dryers Post-Swimming

Blow drying can damage the hair, making it more 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

How Chlorine And Saltwater Damage The Hair
Image: Shutterstock

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 the 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 cortexi  The middle layer of a hair shaft that imparts strength, shape, texture, and color to the hair fiber. . 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.

Infographic: Important Tips to Protect Hair When Swimming

Who doesn’t appreciate a leisurely swim every now and then? Although you may love swimming, your hair may not feel the same. Swimming pools are filled with chlorine that can harm your hair in unpleasant ways, making it rough, unruly and even fading lovely hair colors.

Wondering how to keep your hair safe when swimming? Do not fear; we have mentioned everything in the infographic below. Check it out!

important tips to protect hair when swimming (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Swimming is arguably one of the best exercises that not only enhances your fitness level but also relaxes your mind and body. But, it could lead to hair damage due to the chlorine content in pool water. Remember to follow the pre and post hair care tips mentioned above to keep your tresses healthy and damage-free. A few pre hair care tips include oiling your hair and applying leave-in conditioner. Some post hair care tips include washing your hair thoroughly after swimming and using a deep conditioner. These simple yet effective care tips teach you how to protect your hair when swimming without having to shell out money on expensive products or treatments. So, follow them and swim away merrily!

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 dye 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. You can use hair clips or a bandana to secure the front of your hair.

Will swimming once a week damage my hair?

The chlorine in the pool water can damage your hair, whether you go for a swim regularly or once a week. You can reduce the risk of damage by wearing a swim cap, deep conditioning your hair, or using hair sprays.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a swim cap or pull your hair into a braid or bun to reduce exposure to the water.
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner or oil, which will shield your wet hair from the chlorinated pool water.
  • After swimming, rinse your hair thoroughly to remove chlorine or salts, and you can also use clarifying shampoo to remove buildup.
  • Nourish your hair with natural oils and deep conditioners frequently, and go for a trim to avoid split ends routinely.
how to protect hair when swimming

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Learn how to take care of your hair and skin while swimming! Get tips on how to protect your hair and skin from chlorine and other pool chemicals in this video. Watch it now!

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview
  2. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage
  3. Hair-discoloration of Japanese elite swimmers
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Dr. Meena Konada

Dr. Meena KonadaMBBS, DDVL

Dr. Meena Konada is a board-certified dermatologist with 9 years of experience. She is a public health nutrition graduate from New Jersey, USA. She specializes in aesthetics and trichology and is a practicing consultant in one of the internationally renowned skin clinics in Hyderabad, India.

Read full bio of Dr. Meena Konada