How to remove chlorine in hair

Whether you are a frequent swimmer or not, you probably know that pool water contains chlorine. 

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control Prevention, chlorine and pH are essential in keeping water sanitized and eliminating harmful germs. 

It’s all fun when it is germ-safe, right? Most of the time. 

It’s because chlorine buildup in hair is a true horror to deal with when you don’t take precautions and post-swimming care. 

Today, you’ll learn how to get chlorine out of your hair and some valuable tips to keep hair healthy. 


How long does chlorine stay in your hair?

How long does chlorine stay in your hair

If you are the type to let your hair dry after swimming, it’s time to recognize a red flag and stop it. 

Chlorine can strip away the natural oils coating your hair. In turn, your hair may lose shine, moisture, and manageability. 

It can also break down the protein and amino acids in your hair, weakening your hair shaft's structural integrity. In such cases, your hair turns dry, dull, tangle-prone, and brittle. It also becomes more porous and vulnerable to dirt. 

Fragile hair may seem scary enough, but excessive chlorine exposure may result in fallout and destroy melanin pigments. Moreover, your skin may get irritated and red from the rash. 

It’s a total no-no! 

It also does not take long for chlorine to affect your hair. 

If left untreated, chlorine will stay in your hair. It won’t evaporate or magically vanish, unfortunately. The damage will start once your hair dries off. The longer you wait to remove it, the greater the potential damage. 


Can you just rinse chlorine out of hair?

Now that you are aware of the possible harm that chlorine can inflict on your hair, your mind may already be in a dark alley of moments where you left your hair to dry. 

Don’t worry! Everyone had those moments, and not all ended up with brittle hair. 

As already stated, the level of chlorine damage can rely on how long your exposure was to chlorine. 

Frequent swimming in chlorinated water also contributes to the gradual weakening of your hair. But if you only dipped in a pool once for a summer outing and used a swimming cap, your hair may only have low chlorine levels.

Short, occasional trips to the pool won’t bring an end to your hair. 

In fact, rinsing your hair immediately after swimming may remove chlorine from it. 

Of course, you must do it thoroughly to flush most of the chlorine out. It doesn’t guarantee total removal, but it is the least of the measures you can take to ensure your hair’s health. 

Another essential precaution you would want to know is showering before swimming. 

Saturating your hair with clean water before you take a dip in the pool can lessen the amount of chlorine that gets inside the hair shaft. 

Think of it this way: since your hair’s pores are already “full,” once you soak them in with water, chlorinated water doesn’t get absorbed as readily. Basically like a sponge!

If you didn’t rinse your hair immediately, it’s best to follow it with a conditioner as an additional measure. Some strands may already be dry from leaving chlorine in your water, and it is better to moisturize your hair ASAP than to suffer the consequences later. 


Does shampoo get rid of chlorine?

Does shampoo get rid of chlorine

Rinsing your hair immediately and thoroughly may be ideal, but not everyone adheres to that. 

If you regularly swim, it’s a hassle to think of rinsing off every time you get out of the pool. Well, if chlorine has already found its way to bond with the amino acids in your hair, there’s not much rinsing can do anyway. 

Here’s the part where you summon the powers of science — in a bottle of shampoo— to get you out of trouble. However, it’s not just ordinary shampoo. You require a special shampoo to remove chlorine.  

Ordinary shampoo won’t work because its formulation targets dirt or oils on your hair. The surfactants, like SLS, in regular shampoo bond with this oil and take it away with them as you rinse it off. However, it doesn’t do anything with the bonded chlorine in your hair. It actually causes more harm! 

You heard it right! If you use regular shampoo in already dry, chlorinated hair, you eliminate the remaining natural oils. The dehydration may also lead to scalp itchiness. Regular clarifying shampoos may cause similar reactions.

Chlorine removal shampoo has reducing agents like sodium thiosulfate and citric acid, which can help neutralize chlorine. There are well-priced shampoos dedicated to chlorine removal, so you won’t have to go to the pool without one. 

There are two other criteria to consider when picking: mildness and hydration. In other words, it must also be gentle enough for regular use and can deliver much-needed moisture to your chlorinated hair. 

Here are five shampoos you might want to check out at your next pool party. 

  1. Ultra Swim Shampoo— also comes with a conditioner. The set is affordable and also has a moisturizing formula. 
  2. Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three — a clarifying shampoo that can remove chlorine and other minerals which may contribute to a green tint when swimming in the pool. It is also gentle enough for daily use.
  3. Malibu C Swimmer’s Shampoo— a vegan option formulated with a Vitamin C blend. It is also sulfate-free and contains an antioxidant complex to combat oxidizers like chlorine.
  4. Solpri Swimmer’s Shampoo— breaks down chlorine with Vitamin C formula. The shampoo goes best with the amino acid conditioner. Moreover, it is sulfate and paraben-free. 
  5. Tri-Swim Shampoo— formulated with aloe vera and chamomile to help with hydration and soothe irritation. It is gentle enough for everyday use and comes in a lime plus mango scent. 

How to get chlorine out of blonde hair

If you swim long enough and leave chlorine untreated, any hair will suffer some damage. However, more vulnerable types need to be extra careful when swimming. 

Among them are those with fine hair, colored or bleached hair, chemically-treated hair, damaged hair, and natural blondes. 

You may not only incur damage to your hair, but when you have light-colored hair or are naturally blonde, your hair may show a greenish tint after swimming in a pool. 

While some think that chlorine directly causes this tint, it is not so. The tint is from copper, abundant in pool water, getting oxidized by chlorine. This metal oxide is greenish and can show more clearly in light hair. 

If you are blonde and suffering from chlorinated hair, you can opt for special shampoos containing Vitamin C or sodium thiosulfate. 

You may also choose a clarifying shampoo but always consider its drying effects before using it. Shampoos with chelating agents like EDTA may also help lessen build-up if you swim frequently. 

Of course, you must follow your shampoo with a deep conditioner to boost moisture levels in your hair. 

Blonde hair is naturally more porous and likely thinner. Stay away from blow-drying or brushing your hair when wet or chemical treatments after spending a day in the pool. 

Overall, you would likely need shampoos and conditioners specific for swimmers, or you can browse below to know how to get chlorine out of hair naturally. 


How do you get chlorine out of your hair naturally?

How do you get chlorine out of your hair naturally

You don’t have to hurry to the nearest mall if you worry about chlorinated hair. There are DIY options you can follow as an emergency plan. 

To save you from searching “how to remove chlorine from hair home remedies,” below are some home staples you can gather quickly and use for chlorine removal. 

How to get chlorine out of hair with ketchup

Sometimes, DIY remedies can seem wacky and out of this world. 

And since you are here for any effective suggestion, here’s the wackiest of them all: tomato ketchup! None other than your favorite condiment to resolve your chlorine issues. 

When chlorine gets into your hair, the pH of your hair increases; once this happens, the cuticle layer of your hair lifts and causes structural impairment. In simple words, your hair gets frizzy and suffers from breakage. 

Tomato ketchup has an acidic pH. Hence, it can balance your hair’s pH to normal levels. Moreover, the red coloring may aid those with light-colored hair that turns greenish after swimming. 

  1. Rinse your hair thoroughly and squeeze to rid of excess water
  2. Slather ketchup on your hair or wherever there is a noticeable green tint
  3. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes. If the green is evident, it may take longer. 
  4. Wash with shampoo and conditioner afterward.

Note that this method may leave a weird odor in your hair. If you are sensitive to that, you may proceed to the ACV method instead.

How to get chlorine out of hair with apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a stellar reputation in the hair department. 

The acidic nature of ACV brings the pH of your hair back to where it's supposed to be. Once you balance the pH, your cuticle layers close up and will not fall to extra damage. 

Mix ¼ cup of organic ACV and 1 ½ cups water into a spray bottle. Depending on your preference, you can add an essential oil like lemon or rosemary. After shampooing, spritz your hair with this mixture and leave it for three minutes. You can rinse it afterward with cool water. 

ACV is known for removing heavy metal build-up and adding shine, manageability, and smoothness. If you also wonder how to get chlorine out of hair without washing it, carrying a spray bottle of the ACV mixture with you is the key. It’s convenient and helps your hair stay healthy. It’s a win-win! 

Note: You can try crushing and diluting vitamin C tablets and using them as a rinse, but it would cost too much, and Vitamin C can be sensitive to light and decompose shortly.

How to get chlorine out of hair with baking soda

Admittedly, slathering ketchup or precious ACV on your hair may not be the most budget-friendly option. There’s a cheaper but highly effective choice instead: baking soda

You only need to mix one tablespoon of baking soda and one cup of water in a bowl. Apply it evenly and thoroughly to your hair. Those with lighter hair and a noticeable greenish tint may need to soak the mixture in for several more minutes. Rinse it thoroughly afterward. 

Baking soda is extremely drying to the hair. It is also an alkaline product. Doing an ACV rinse is advisable to bring the pH to normal levels. If you already have damaged and brittle hair, this method may not be for you since this can worsen your hair’s situation. 


Tl;dr What can remove chlorine from hair?

The most surefire way of chlorine removal is relying on commercial products. 

Shampoos and conditioners with sodium thiosulfate, citric acid, or antioxidants that neutralize chlorine can help you immediately and with less fuss. 

However, if you are the DIY type, ACV rinse and baking soda paste work effectively too. 

Whatever your choice for chlorine removal is, always remember to post-hydrate. You can also lessen chlorine exposure through silicone swimming caps or create a barrier by putting on hair oil or a leave-in conditioner before swimming. 

Last Updated: July 21, 2022

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