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How to Protect Hair When Swimming

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Do you love swimming but worried about the impact of chlorine on your hair? You’re not alone! Many of us struggle with maintaining healthy locks while enjoying the pool. Worry not, as we’ve got you covered with pro tips on how to protect hair when swimming.

Dive into this guide that covers the effects of chlorine, pre-swim and post-swim hair care techniques, and product recommendations for swimmer’s hair. Let’s get started!

Understanding Chlorine’s Impact on Hair

Chlorinated pool water in swimming pools is a double-edged sword. While it kills bacteria, it can also harm your hair by stripping natural oils, leading to:

  • Increased hair porosity
  • Dryness
  • Brittleness
  • Discoloration

Different hair types, including those with lighter coloured hair, may experience varying levels of damage, depending on their hair routine and hair dry structure.

You may wonder, how can the negative effects of chlorine on hair be minimised while still enjoying a swim in as much chlorinated water?

Chlorine and Hair Types

Textured and chemically processed hair, such as curly or colour-treated hair, are more prone to chlorine damage. These hair types have a unique structure and treatments that make them more susceptible to:

  • Dryness and brittleness
  • Colour changes due to chlorine reacting with melanin
  • Weakening of hair strands
  • Drying out of hair
  • Raising of cuticles
  • Alteration of hair’s texture due to chlorine’s interaction with the outer protein layer

What steps can be taken to protect hair from damage while swimming?

swimming pool water

Preparing Your Hair for Swimming

Before immersing yourself in the pool, it’s recommended that you prepare your hair adequately for swimming. Pre-swim hair care includes:

  • Wetting your hair to minimise chlorine absorption
  • Applying natural oils like coconut or olive oil
  • Using leave-in conditioners to create a protective barrier.

Here is a more comprehensive look at these pre-swim hair care methods.

Wetting Hair Before Swimming:

Wetting your wet hair before swimming is crucial in reducing the absorption of chlorinated water. Dampening your hair with fresh water enables it to absorb less chlorinated water when you swim, thereby reducing potential chlorine damage.

Therefore, before entering the pool next time with your hair wet, remember to rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Using Natural Oils:

Natural oils can provide a protective layer against chlorine damage and help retain moisture in your hair. Coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil are effective in safeguarding hair from chlorine damage. Apply these oils to your hair before swimming, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends to create a barrier that reduces the amount of chlorine absorbed by your hair.

When choosing a natural oil, consider your hair type, as different oils offer various benefits. For example, coconut oil is excellent for preventing protein loss, while argan oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, making it suitable for coloured hair.

Whatever oil you choose, ensure that you apply it evenly and rinse it out after swimming to maintain your hair’s optimal health.

Applying Leave-In Conditioners:

Applying a leave-in conditioner before swimming can further protect your hair from chlorine by sealing in moisture and providing a barrier against pool chemicals. Look for conditioners containing ingredients like butylene glycol, PEG-12 dimethicone, activated charcoal, and natural oils like jojoba and coconut oil, which help shield your hair from chlorine damage.

Including a leave-in conditioner in your pre-swim routine is a proactive way to maintain your hair’s health and vibrancy.

swimming pool water

Protective Measures During Swimming

While swimming, you can take additional protective measures to minimise chlorine damage to your hair. Wearing a swim cap and choosing secure hairstyles like braids or buns can help reduce your hair’s contact with chlorinated water.

Now, let’s delve into the advantages of these protective practices during swimming.

Wearing Swim Caps:

Swim caps offer a physical barrier between your hair and chlorinated water, reducing the risk of damage. To get the most protection, ensure all your hair is inside the cap and wet your hair before putting on the cap for a better fit. Having spare swim caps in your swim bag is also a good idea in case one gets damaged.

Remember, a swim cap isn’t just for professional swimmers – it’s a practical solution for anyone looking to protect their hair while enjoying the pool.

Selecting Hairstyles for Swimming:

Hairstyles like braids, buns, or ponytails can help keep your hair contained and minimise exposure to chlorine. These secure hairstyles reduce the contact area and protect your hair from chlorine and water damage. You can rely on hair clips or a bandana to keep your hair in place while swimming. Firmly secure the front of your hair with either of these for best results..

If you prefer not to wear a swim cap, you can still protect your hair by using a hair tie to create a bun on the top of your head and keep your hair as dry as possible. Alternatively, a high ponytail can reduce hair exposure to chlorine by keeping the majority of your hair out of the water. The key is to choose a hairstyle that limits your hair’s contact with chlorinated water, giving you peace of mind while swimming.

protect your hair

Post-Swim Hair Care Techniques

After your swim session, it’s essential to give your hair some TLC to counteract the effects of chlorine. Post-swim hair care involves rinsing your hair thoroughly, using a clarifying shampoo to remove chlorine, and applying deep conditioning treatments to restore moisture and repair damage.

Let’s delve deeper into these post-swim hair care techniques.

Rinsing Hair After Swimming:

Rinsing your hair after swimming is the first step in removing chlorine and other pool chemicals, preventing further damage. Even if you’ve worn a swim cap, it remains important to thoroughly rinse your hair with clean water. Opt for lukewarm or tepid water to effectively wash away the chlorine and other impurities.

Remember, a quick rinse can go a long way in maintaining the health of your hair after swimming.

Using Clarifying Shampoo:

Clarifying shampoos are designed to cleanse your hair of chlorine remnants and other impurities. Some highly recommended brands for swimmers include:

These shampoos contain ingredients like lemon myrtle, Kakadu plum, desert lime, and macadamia oil, which effectively remove chlorine from your hair.

Keep in mind that clarifying shampoos can be potent, so use them judiciously and avoid daily use to prevent hair damage.

Deep Conditioning Treatments

Deep conditioning treatments are crucial for restoring moisture, repairing damage, and maintaining hair health after swimming. Look for treatments containing:

  • Emollients
  • Polyquaternium-10
  • Vitamin E
  • Aloe vera
  • Olive oil

These ingredients are known to help protect and repair hair damaged by chlorine and other pool chemicals. Use deep conditioning treatments once or twice a week, depending on your hair’s needs.

To apply a deep conditioning treatment, follow these steps:

  1. Thoroughly rinse your hair with clean water.
  2. Generously apply a deep conditioner from root to tip.
  3. Comb the conditioner through your hair to ensure even distribution.
  4. Allow the conditioner to remain on for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Thoroughly rinse it off with lukewarm water.

Including a deep conditioning treatment in your post-swim routine will aid in keeping your hair nourished, healthy, and protected.

protect hair

Product Recommendations for Swimmer’s Hair

To help you combat the effects of chlorine on your hair, we recommend a few standout products for swimmer’s hair. Consider UV and chlorine protection sprays, leave-in conditioners, and intensive hair masks designed to repair and nourish chlorine-damaged hair.

Some of the highest-rated leave-in conditioners for swimmer’s hair include Malibu C Leave-In Conditioner Mist, Ion Swimmers Leave-in Conditioner, Carol’s Daughter Leave-In Conditioner and TRISWIM Conditioner.

For intensive hair masks, experts recommend:

  • Olaplex No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask
  • Guerlain Abeille Royale Double R Radiance & Repair Mask
  • Kérastase Blond Absolu Masque Cicaextreme
  • Davines NOUNOU Nourishing Repair Mask
  • Kérastase Resistance Mask for Severely Damaged Hair
  • Deep conditioning mask

Always consider your hair type and preferences when selecting the right products to ensure the best results.


Protecting your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine is essential for maintaining healthy locks while enjoying the pool. By understanding chlorine’s impact on different hair types, preparing your hair for swimming, employing protective measures during your swim, and utilising post-swim hair care techniques, you can minimise chlorine damage and keep your hair looking and feeling its best.

hair when swimming

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to common questions about protecting your hair from chlorine when swimming.

What should I put in my hair before swimming?

Protect your hair from chlorine and other chemicals by applying natural oils such as coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba before swimming. Additionally, use a conditioner or deep conditioning mask to form an extra barrier between your hair and the pool water.

How can I swim without wetting my hair?

To swim without wetting your hair, tie it back and secure it with a clip. You can also wear a snorkel and mask instead of a swimming cap, and opt for a two-layer barrier of a shower cap underneath the swimming cap for extra protection. Finally, be sure to add natural oils for added water resistance.

How do I protect my hair from chlorine in my pool?

To protect your hair from chlorine in the pool, pre-wet your hair before entering the water, use a leave-in conditioner or other nutrients for protection, wear a swim cap, and rinse out your hair with fresh water after swimming.

How does chlorine affect different hair types?

Chlorine can cause changes in colour, weakened hair strands, dryness and raised cuticles, as well as altered textures due to its reaction with melanin, protein and other components of the hair. Prolonged exposure can result in further damage.

What are some effective post-swim hair care techniques?

Rinsing your hair thoroughly after swimming and using a clarifying shampoo to remove chlorine followed by deep conditioning treatments can help restore moisture and repair post-swim damage for effective hair care.