What Does Chlorine Do To Your Hair & How To Prevent Damage

Reviewed by Tere Pruett, CT, PBT
By Anjali Sayee

Most of us are aware that pool water contains chlorine (a common disinfectant). It keeps you safe from many infections. But what does chlorine do to your hair? Apart from killing bacteria in the water, does it also damage your hair? This article explores how chlorine affects your hair, how you can protect your hair from chlorine damage, and how to remove it from your hair. Keep reading.

What Does Chlorine Do To Your Hair?

Chlorine sucks all the natural oils from your hair. It leaves your hair feeling dry, rough, and damaged. We are aware that our hair needs natural oils to remain healthy and shiny. But chlorine may make the hair brittle and dry as it strips your hair of these natural oils. It also may lead to split ends(1).

Chlorine may also lead to a change in hair color (2). But does it turn your hair green?

Does Chlorine Turn Your Hair Green?

Swimmers usually observe their hair turning green after swimming. However, chlorine is not directly responsible for this effect. This change in hair color is caused by copper that has been oxidized by chlorine. Chlorine contains oxidized copper that is absorbed by your hair while you swim, eventually turning your hair green (1).

But you sure can protect your hair while swimming from the ill effects of chlorine. We have highlighted a few techniques in the following section.

How To Protect Your Hair From Chlorine Damage?

1. Wet Your Hair First

Wetting your hair before going into the pool can keep it from absorbing the water containing chlorine or other damaging salts.

2. Wear A Swim Cap

Keeping your hair from getting wet altogether can help. Wear a swim cap to ensure your hair does not come in contact with the chlorinated water.

3. Use A Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner in your hair can prevent the absorption of chlorine in the water. Apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair before going for a swim. You can also put on a cap after applying the leave-in conditioner. This will keep your hair from chlorine damage, and will also moisturize your hair (3).

4. Apply Oil

Oil is hydrophobic and repels water. Applying oil (like coconut oil) to your hair can help repel the chlorinated water and potentially prevent hair damage.

It is important to understand that these are not fool-proof methods. Your hair may still get in contact with chlorinated water despite your best efforts. Well, what should you do then?

How Do You Get Chlorine Out Of Your Hair?

1. Wash Your Hair Immediately

Washing your hair immediately after swimming reduces any possible damage due to chlorine. You may wash your hair with specific shampoos meant for removing chlorine from hair.

2. Comb Your Hair

Brush/comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb after washing your hair. However, ensure you do not comb through wet hair (as it can cause breakage). A wide-toothed comb can gently help untangle your hair.

3. Clarify Your Hair

Hair clarifying products help remove the harsh chemicals from your hair. You may use a clarifying shampoo to wash your hair right after you are out of the pool. You may also use an apple cider vinegar rinse. Make sure to follow up with a good conditioner to replace moisture in the hair.

Chlorine is a disinfectant used in swimming pools to keep people safe from infections. However, it also strips your hair of its natural oils, leaving your hair brittle, lifeless, dry, and with split ends. While many swimmers claim chlorine turns their hair green, it is oxidized copper that results in changed hair color. You must wear a swimming cap and use a leave-in conditioner to protect your hair from chlorine. Additionally, wash your hair immediately after contact with chlorine or leaving the pool to keep your hair healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does chlorine make your hair gray?

Chlorinated water causes hair discoloration (1). Therefore, it may turn dark hair gray.

Does chlorine turn brown hair blonde?

Hair discoloration can be caused by chlorinated water (1). Hence, chlorine may bleach your brown hair and make it blonde.

Key Takeaways

  • The chlorinated water in the pool may make your hair brittle and dry, stripping your hair of natural oils.
  • While swimming, oxidized copper in chlorine is absorbed by your hair, turning it green.
  • Swimmers can protect their hair from chlorine and enjoy their experience more if they take the proper precautions.

Sources

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 color damages caused by exposure to chlorinated water in the presence of ultraviolet radiation
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236109930_Hair_color_damages_caused_by_exposure_to_chlorinated_water_in_the_presence_of_ultraviolet_radiation
  2. CLEAR WATERS AND A GREEN GAS: A HISTORY OF CHLORINE AS A SWIMMING POOL SANITIZER IN THE UNITED STATES
    http://acshist.scs.illinois.edu/bulletin_open_access/v32-2/v32-2%20p129-140.pdf
  3. Hair cosmetics: An overview
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/
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author
Anjali specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. Her philosophy... more

Tere Pruett

(CT, PBT)
Tere Pruett is a certified trichologist from the United States Trichology Institute. She also has a graduate education in phlebotomy.... more

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