Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Gopika Suresh (Journalist) on 28th Sep 2020
Love swimming? Your Pre-Swim and Post-Swim Hair Regime Matters
It's challenging to stop oneself from heading to the pool for some cool relief during the summer. However, it is crucial to understand that spending too much time in water containing chlorine can harm your skin and hair.
A good swim might be what your heart needs, but the chlorine in the water may be doing the opposite. Keep reading to know how chlorine damages hair and what you can do to prevent and treat it.
Chlorine, Hair damage and your health
Almost every swimming pool, whether private or public, has chlorine due to hygiene reasons. However, experts say that it is a corrosive chemical which is very bad for human health, specifically the skin, hair and eyes.
Chlorine possesses an oxidizing effect, which causes dryness and irritation if we stay in water for long hours. In some dangerous scenarios, exposure to it may have more severe consequences. The formation of hypochlorous acid can enter into our cells and destroy them from the inside.
What is alarming is that although lower chlorine concentrations do a great job at keeping the water sanitized, they can still threaten swimmers. Even though it may be in small amounts, chlorine still has the potential to bring serious harm to our eyes, skin and hair.
Does chlorine cause hair loss?
The popular myth that most of us fear is that chlorine will cause hair damage. This, fortunately, is not valid. Average exposure to the chemical compound will NOT make you lose any hair. In fact, a study done by the Journal of Dermatology debunked the myth.
For the experiment, a comparison between the hair of 54 individuals who spent no to little time in the pool against that of 67 professional swimmers, was analyzed. The research findings showed that although the swimmers' hair showed signs of damage caused due to chlorine, such as coarseness and dryness, they were not subject to any additional hair loss.
However, there is no denying that exposure to more than normal chlorine levels could leave the scalp to become irritated, dry and flaky.
In some cases, shedding or thinning of the hair might be a consequence. It is essential to understand that it requires a certain level of exposure to the chemical compound for severe damage. Usually, when you swim in a regular pool, you are left with just dry and coarse hair.
Will chlorine change the color of your hair?
Most often, what people ask is whether chlorine will change their hair color. You need not be worried because it doesn't. Sometimes, you may notice a slight greenish tint to your hair if you have spent a long time in the pool. This is due to the oxidized metals present in the water, such as copper, that cause temporary discoloration.
However, sometimes if your hair is color-treated, it may make it easier for the chlorine to turn your hair to green. This is because when you undergo color treatments and dyes, your hair becomes much more brittle, dry and porous. Such kind of hair absorbs compounds like copper and others faster, giving rise to the discoloration.
How can you control the damage chlorine does to your hair?
You don't have to compromise on a good swim, as long as you pamper your hair enough, both before and after. Make it a point to strictly follow a pre and post-swim care regime without fail to protect your lock from chlorine and other harmful substances in the pool water.
All you need are a few products, materials, some extra minutes (that will be worth it), and you're good to go.
Check out these pre-swim tricks to ensure the damage done to your hair is minimal.
Minimalist Tip - Washing your hair before
One trick you can do is wet your hair with fresh water before getting yourself into the pool. Not many people know this, but you could significantly reduce chlorine does to your hair. Our hair is very similar to a sponge; it has a fantastic ability to absorb moisture.
So, by washing your hair for a few seconds with fresh water before entering the pool, you create a safe barrier. It is difficult for your hair to absorb the chlorine in the water once you get into the pool with this barrier. Thus, leaving it more protected.
Minimalist Tip - Oil treatment
Never forget to oil your hair before a dive into the pool. The perfect pre-care treatment before swimming, oil forms a protective layer over your scalp and hair strands.
Thus, it makes your hair waterproof and prevents chlorine from entering. Chlorine could damage your cuticles, cause discoloration, and remove hair shine. However, after a thorough oil treatment, you are safe.
After giving a quick wash to your hair with fresh water, massage some oil on to the scalp and hair strands. You could use any oil of your choice, from coconut oil to olive oil. However, usually, Moroccan oil is best known for its moisturizing properties.
Minimalist Tip - Deep conditioning
One can never go wrong with deep conditioning, even while swimming.
Pick a conditioner and apply a thick layer of it from the scalp to the ends of your hair. This will not only nourish your hair follicles but will form a layer of protection against chlorine and other harmful substances in the swimming pool.
Minimalist Tip - Swimming cap
Now, we know the swimming cap doesn't make you look too stunning. But if the Harvard School of Public Health is all for it, you should give it a shot! You may hate it when the lifeguard at the pool tells you to wear it for sanitary reasons. But it turns out, swimming caps protect your hair and scalp from the harmful chlorinated water. It is a smart way to keep all your hair tucked inside the swimming cap before diving into the pool.
Just because you took care of your hair before getting into the pool doesn't mean you're done. It's only halfway there; you have to indulge in post-care as well.
Even if you missed out on the pre-swim regime, that's fine. You could reverse the damage as long as you diligently follow the post-swim tricks and tips for your hair.
Minimalist Tip - Shampoo your hair immediately
The most common way the chlorine in the water can damage your hair is by getting into the strands and making them dry and porous. This later may lead to discoloration.
Immediately after a swim, shampooing the hair is a must. To reverse all the damage done in the pool, wash and rinse your tresses thoroughly. Even though you may feel tired after a swim, push yourself to the shower because harmful chlorine particles are stuck on your hair. These, if left for a more extended period, are harder to rinse off, so do so immediately.
Go for a fair amount of shampoo to wash off all that chlorine. You could try an anti-chlorine shampoo that would remove both the chlorine and other harmful agents like copper. Finish your hair wash with a conditioner that is rich in protein to repair all the damage from your swim. For those who have color-treated hair, you may opt for shampoos and conditioners that reduce discoloration.
Minimalist Tip - Comb your hair.
Swimming with a cap may lead to tangles that could cause breakage of hair. So, make sure to comb your locks out with a wide-toothed comb to minimize any tension.
A home remedy for your hair
You could take it one step ahead and go for a home remedy to ensure that your hair is truly protected. Here is a highly effective remedy made of stuff you could find in your kitchen.
Apple Cider Vinegar Wash
You Will Need
- 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups of water
- A squeeze bottle
What You Need To Do
- Mix the water and the apple cider vinegar and pour it into a squeeze bottle.
- Massage the mixture to your roots and hair strands. Allow it to soak for about two minutes.
- Afterward, rinse your hair and let it air dry.
You could apply this mixture once a week.
Why This Works
You need a product that clarifies your scalp and hair after a swim. Apple cider vinegar breaks down the chlorine and other mineral residues that stick to the hair's outer layer. It cleanses it thoroughly, making it healthy, soft and shiny. It tightens the cuticles too, which helps the hair to retain moisture better.
Swimming is one of the best exercises. Swimming regularly keeps your body fit and relaxes your mind. Despite the presence of harmful substances like chlorine in the pool, every swimmer must have fun swimming without any concerns about their hair, which is why we have provided the above tips and tricks consisting of both a pre and post-swim care regime. As long as you follow them diligently before and after every swim, your locks are going to look as beautiful as they did earlier or maybe even better!