How to protect hair from chlorine

Swimming pool season can be as exciting and worrying because of the possible damages that chlorinated water can do to our hair.

If you’re anything like me, I would certainly want to cool off at the pool and have fun. It’s rather boring to stay in one spot and not enjoy the water.

I’m going to share with you some tips on how we can protect our hair from chlorinated water the next time you visit a pool.


How to protect your hair from chlorine?

How to protect your hair from chlorine

While chlorine disinfects and makes our water safe, it can harm our hair. If you plan on frequently visiting the pools this summer, it’s important to know how to protect hair from chlorine when swimming.


City water treatment systems add chlorine to tap water to make it safe for drinking. But swimming pools are much worse because of ammonia which comes into contact with chlorine and creates a byproduct called chloramines. Chloramines are the culprit behind that strong “pool water smell”. 

1. Wash hair before and after swimming.

Do you tend to ignore the sign saying to take a shower before swimming, thinking you will get wet anyway? Well, after this, you won't. 

This is because saturating our hair with clean water minimizes the amount of chlorine absorbed by our hair.

Rinse your hair right after swimming with a good clarifying shampoo, a chlorine removal shampoo, or a DIY by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 ½ cups of water to give it a deep clean.

Use a good moisturizing hair conditioner or mask to replenish the lost moisture and protein.

2. Wear a swim cap

Swim caps are great for keeping our hair away from our mouth and eyes while swimming. They help professional swimmers move faster underwater as it minimizes drag

There are a lot of options for swimming cap materials to choose from — silicone, latex rubber, lycra or spandex, and neoprene. Don't forget to wet your hair, so it's easier to put them on.

Silicone swim caps are thicker than latex, hypoallergenic, and soft to touch. They are great for chilly days or cooler pools as they provide additional warmth. 

Latex rubber is thinner and best for summer days or warm waters where your body is more likely to heat up. They’re inexpensive and can fit almost every head size and shape. 

If you do water exercises like water aerobics and are looking for comfort, you might want to consider getting a Lycra swim cap.


How to protect colored hair from chlorine

The ability to change our hair color is probably one of the best fashion innovations. But this procedure comes with its share of damage to our hair. Now just imagine how worse things will be when you combine it with dyed hair and chlorine.

The tips mentioned above are still applicable for colored hair. You just have to add specialized kinds of shampoos and hair products. 

According to Lucille Javier at New York's Mark Ryan Salon, different colors require specific shampoos and conditions for the right protection. 

For brunettes, go for a shampoo and a hair mask that can restore the color and shine to your hair. 

For reds, go for a sulfate-free shampoo and hair mask.

For blondes, you need a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to moisturize bleached hair. 

How to protect blonde hair from chlorine

The most common problem for people with blonde hair is that chlorine can turn hair green. This goes with other issues like dry, brittle, and tangled hair.

Why? 

Most pool water contains copper, chlorine, and other hard metals. Chlorine is acidic while copper is basic, so contact between these 2 and other hard metals results in oxidation. 

Having light-colored hair makes the green color more obvious, which is an indication of chemical build-up.

Saturating the hair, oiling up, pre-swim sprays, hair sunscreen, and swim caps are the basics of protecting your blonde color.  But if you are already experiencing greenish hair, try doing some of these home remedies.

  • Mix baking soda with water to make a paste, then apply it to your greenish hair.
  • Wet your hair with lemon juice for 5 minutes (fresh or bottled).
  • Coat your hair with ketchup, and then wrap it with tin foil. Let it sit for a while.
  • Apply a mixture of 8 crushed Aspirin and water. Wash your hair with it and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Wash your hair with Coke or any club soda and let it sit for a while.

You can use any of these options depending on what’s accessible to you. You can shampoo and condition as usual, right after. You may need to repeat the process depending on how greenish your hair is. 

If they don’t work out, seek professional help.


How can I protect my hair from chlorine without a swim cap?

How can I protect my hair from chlorine without a swim cap

Swimming caps can be unfashionable for some to wear and troublesome if you’re not used to them. If you don't want to wear one, here are your options.

Pre-swim hair protection spray

Depending on your budget and preference, there are many to choose from — commercial and DIY.

1. Hair Oils

Choose from a wide range of natural oils like coconut oil and apply them to your hair before you go for a presoak. You may wonder, does coconut oil protect hair from chlorine? 

Yes, it creates a slippery barrier repelling as many chemicals from your pool water. It also makes it easy to detangle your hair.

2. Hair sunscreen

Yes, sunscreens are a must for our hair as they are for our skin. Look for hair sunscreens that contain UVA and UVB filters for better coverage.

Tie your hair up

Tying your hair on a cute bun, ponytail, top knot, or braid are simple ways to minimize contact with chlorine if you are not planning to go for a full swim. 

Clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoo is good for removing chemical build-up brought by hard water, styling products, and hair coloring. Regular shampoo focuses more on mild cleansing and moisturizing our hair. 

In terms of ingredients, regular shampoo uses sulfates which can be harsh and drying to our scalp, while clarifying shampoo uses a more friendly formula to dissolve impurities by making them water-soluble.


How do I take care of my hair if I swim every day?

How do I take care of my hair if I swim every day

If you are a regular swimmer, you may have probably experienced what they call ‘swimmers’ hair’, where the hair gets very dry and damaged to the touch. You can blame chlorine for this.

Here are the do’s to take care of your hair

  • Wear a good swimming cap. 
  • Use a good clarifying shampoo to deep clean your hair right after swimming. 
  • Leave in conditioners to replenish lost moisture.
  • Consider using hair masks with activated charcoal ingredients, as it's great for removing chemical buildup.
  • Choose a good hair oil to help replenish and keep the moisture in your hair and scalp.
  • Talk to your hairstylist about your hair-specific concerns. 

What product protects hair from chlorine?

Here are the products that you can consider having to protect your hair from chlorine

  • Hair oil to coat your hair strands and minimize chlorine water absorption
  • Pre-swim protection sprays are great for blocking chlorine from penetrating your strands.
  • Good fitting swimming caps to keep hair tucked in and away from water. 
  • Clarifying shampoo to deep clean your hair after swimming. Remember to do it right after.
  • Conditioners to replenish the lost moisture after swimming. 
  • Once-a-week deep-conditioning treatments, but if you are time-poor, go for regular leave-in treatment.

Do swimming caps protect hair from chlorine?

Swim caps are suitable for keeping our hair away from our eyes and mouth while swimming, but they do not provide tight-sealed protection from pool water. 

This is why washing our hair before putting the swim cap on makes wearing it easier and lessens chlorine absorption, especially if you lose your cap while swimming.


How to protect hair from chlorine tap water

Yes, tap water from our faucets and showers is potable because of chemical disinfectants like chlorine and chloramines. This is why tap water often has increased chlorine levels just to process hard water.

Some people may experience dry hair and scalp due to tap water.

If this is the case, try using filtered water or soft water. You can use bottled water or buy a water softening system. But they can also be heavy on the pockets for some.

A more cost-effective solution is to buy a dechlorinating shower filter. An even more inexpensive method is to boil water and use it to wash your hair. The only downside is that it’s a hassle to do this over and over. 

The other options are counter treatments in the forms of clarifying shampoo, leave-in conditioner, and deep-conditioning hair masks. 

Last Updated: July 4, 2022

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