How to Protect Hair from Harmful Effects of Pool Chlorine

Effects of Chlorine on the Hair

Woman in Swimming PoolChlorine is a chemical disinfectant used to prevent the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in swimming pools. While keeping swimming pools clean and safe, chlorine also has harsh effects on swimmers’ hair. Negative effects of exposure to swimming pool water on the hair include chemical reactions of chlorine with hair proteins, sebum, and pigments responsible for hair color.

Chlorine in the pool reacts with amino acids in hair protein and separates the bonds between keratin fibers, which build the hair shaft. This weakens the structural integrity of the hair shaft, making hair more vulnerable and prone to breakage and split ends. Chlorine also pushes up the cuticles, making hair rough, porous and difficult to untangle.

Chlorine removes a protective layer of the natural lubricants that coat the hair shaft, resulting in loss of shine and elasticity and making the hair more susceptible to damage. Swimming in chlorinated pools can leave hair dry, brittle, dull and lifeless.

Chlorine acts as a bleaching agent that can remove melanin pigments and lighten your hair color. Chlorine raises the cuticle, allowing minerals to get into the hair and affect its color.  People with gray hair may develop brassy tones after swimming in pools on a regular basis. Blonde hair and blonde highlights may even turn greenish after exposure to chlorine.

Swimming in a pool on a regular basis leaves a chemical smell that can linger on your skin and hair -even after taking a shower.

Color-treated, permed, or relaxed hair is particularly vulnerable and needs extra care to prevent and treat damage from pool chlorine. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to protect hair before and after swimming and minimize the negative effect of chlorine. With proper protective measures and care, you will not end up with excessively dry, orange or green hair.

How to Prevent Chlorine Damage to Hair

Protective Steps before Swimming in a Chlorinated Pool

Swimming Cap

Use a quality silicone swim cap that fits snugly around your head. A swimming cap will keep your hair dry and protect it from the damaging effects of chlorine.

Soaking Hair in Fresh Water

To prevent chlorine from reacting with your hair, take a short shower prior to entering the pool. This will saturate your hair with fresh water and reduce hair’s ability to absorb pool water.

Oil Coating

Apply a generous amount of olive oil or coconut oil before you get in the pool. The oil will coat your strands and create a protective barrier that prevents chlorine damage.

Pre-Swim Conditioning

Before stepping into the pool, saturate your hair with a moisturizing or leave-in conditioner. The conditioner will coat the strands and repel chlorine from entering the cuticle.

There are special pre-swim conditioners that can be applied to wet or dry hair before swimming to protect color-treated hair and keep it safe from the damaging effects of pool chlorine.

How to Treat your Hair after Swimming

Washing

Wash your hair immediately after your pool time. Apply a generous amount of shampoo, followed by a conditioner. Choose a shampoo specifically designed to remove chlorine and mineral deposits from your hair.

Drying

Do not vigorously rub your hair with a towel, because wet hair tends to be very fragile, especially after exposure to chlorine. Instead, gently blot and squeeze your hair, or wrap it in a soft towel. Let your hair air-dry, if possible, or use a blow dryer at a lower setting.

Conditioning

Apply a leave-in conditioner to replace lost moisture and make combing easier. Use a wide-toothed comb instead of a brush to avoid stretching wet hair.

Chlorine Removal Shampoos

Avoid shampoos that contain sulfates since sulfate-based products can be harsh on your hair. A gentle shampoo formula with moisturizing and nourishing ingredients will keep your hair in good condition.

There are shampoos and conditioners designed for swimmers, which should help reduce the damage done by chlorine and other pool chemicals. These products claim to be effective in preventing chemical buildup, retaining the color and protecting hair from drying out.

Benefits of a Swimmer’s Shampoo

A shampoo for chlorine is formulated to help get rid of the chemical residue that accumulates in the hair after swimming in pool water. Using a swimmer’s shampoo twice a week should be enough to protect your hair from the harmful effects of chlorine.

After-swim shampoo keeps hair from drying out by sealing in moisture and leaves your tresses smooth and shiny. After the removal of the chemical buildup, the hair is less tangled and easier to comb.

A chlorine removing shampoo prevents silver and blond hair from turning yellow and keeps the green tint at bay.

A swim shampoo also helps eliminate the chemical smell of chlorine-exposed hair. 

Malibu C Swimmer’s Wellness Shampoo

This sulfate-free, chlorine removal shampoo is designed to gently cleanse hair and prevent chemical build-up. It is formulated with antioxidants, vitamins, and botanicals to replenish hair with moisture and boost shine. It helps preserve hair color and keeps your hair from getting brassy tones or turning green.

Malibu Swimmers Weekly Solution

This product prevents hair from becoming flat, greasy and dulled from pool water. The solution takes out shades of green and keeps blonde shades brighter.

Apply after you shampoo and rinse. Mix the powder with a little water until it forms a paste. You can also mix it by rubbing it between your hands. Apply and distribute evenly throughout hair, and leave it on for up to 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and follow with a conditioner.

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