The Negative Effects of Chlorine on Your Hair
Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant used to prevent the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in swimming pools.
While keeping swimming pools clean and safe, pool chlorine also has a harsh effect on swimmers’ hair. Negative effects of exposure to chlorine in swimming pools include chemical reactions between chlorine and hair proteins, sebum, and pigments responsible for hair color.
Chlorine in the pool causes damage to the hair proteins 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. The damage from chlorine is greatly increased in combination with sun rays.
Chlorine removes a protective layer of the natural oils that coat the hair shaft, resulting in loss of shine and elasticity and making the hair more susceptible to damage. Swimming in chlorinated pools without proper protection can leave hair dry, brittle, 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 effective ways to protect hair before swimming and to minimize the negative effect of chlorine after the swimming sessions. With appropriate 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 Entering a Swimming Pool
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 reaching your hair, take a short shower prior to entering the pool. This way you will saturate your hair with fresh water and reduce its ability to absorb pool water.
Oil Coating Layer
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. You can also soak your hair with an oil-based pre-shampoo treatment such as Huile de Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Oil Treatment.
Before stepping into the pool, saturate your hair with a pre-swim conditioner. This conditioner will coat hair strands and repel chlorine from entering the cuticle.
There are special pre-swim conditioners such as AquaGuard Pre-Swim Hair Defense that should be applied to damp 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
Wash your hair immediately after a swim. Apply a generous amount of shampoo, massage, and rinse thoroughly. Choose a shampoo specifically designed to remove chlorine and mineral deposits from your hair. Apply conditioner.
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 just wrap it in a soft towel. Let your hair air-dry, if possible, or use a blow dryer at a lower setting.
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 swimmers shampoos:
- Swimmers shampoos are formulated to help get rid of the chemicals that accumulate in the hair after swimming in pool water. Using a chlorine shampoo twice a week should be enough to minimize the harmful effects of pool chlorine.
- After-swim shampoo keeps hair from drying out by sealing in moisture and leaves your tresses smooth and shiny. After eliminating chemical buildup, your hair is less tangled and easier to comb.
- Anti-chlorine shampoo prevents silver and blond hair from turning yellow and keeps the green tint at bay.
- A chlorine shampoo also helps eliminate the chemical smell of chlorine-exposed hair.
This swimmer’s shampoo is formulated to cleanse your hair without chemicals while protecting it from damage caused by chlorine, sun, wind, and salt. Natural ingredients including aloe, panthenol, and sunflower oil help to moisturize, detangle, and revive the luster of your locks.
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.
This post-swim hair remedy is specifically formulated for hair exposed to pool and ocean water. It prevents damage and swimmers’ green hair while eliminating mineral build-up to restore softness, manageability, and color vibrancy.
The product is 100% vegan and free from gluten, parabens, and sulfates. It is safe for color-treated hair.
Use at least once a week or as often as desired. Apply after you shampoo and rinse. Mix the powder with a little water until it forms a rich gel. You can also mix it by rubbing it between your hands. Apply and distribute evenly throughout the hair, and leave it on for up to 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and follow with a conditioner.