If you decide to make swimming a part of your daily or weekly workout regimen, you need to take certain precautions to protect your natural hair. In order to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, algae and larvae (for outside pools), chemical disinfectants like chlorine, bromine, mineral sanitizers and other filters are used. These chemicals, chlorine, in particular, dehydrate the hair and are particularly harmful to natural hair as it is already pre-disposed to dryness.
Chlorine sucks away sebum, the natural oil our scalp produces to keep the hair healthy, and this causes the cuticle to dry out and crack. The end result is dry, brittle hair. Swimming is a fantastic way to get or stay in shape. Plus it’s a great way to build endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular strength. Furthermore, it is a lot easier on the joints than running or weight training and can be an excellent form of meditation and/or stress release.
Here are a few tips to protect your hair as you swim:
1. Rinse Thoroughly
Before you jump in the pool, rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water. Why? Think about a sponge. If you place a dry sponge in a puddle of water, it will absorb the water until it is saturated. If you place a wet sponge in a pool of water, it will only absorb a small quantity of water. The sponge is already filled with water so there is no need to absorb the puddle water. We want the hair shaft to be swollen and full of water before we hop in the pool. This way the hair does not absorb the chlorinated water. So, hop in the shower or rinse your hair over the sink so ensure it is saturated with regular tap water before hopping in the pool.
2. Apply Coconut oil to the hair.
Coconut oil protects and seals the hair cuticles. It also helps your hair retain moisture by sealing moisture into the hair shaft.
3. Apply a conditioner
After the hair is saturated, apply a conditioner. Use conditioners that are for dry, curly, damaged, or chemically treated hair. Apply a generous amount of the conditioner to hair, making sure to coat the length, roots, and scalp. The conditioner will not only moisturize the hair, it will also help protect the hair from the harsh pool water. Do not rinse out the conditioner. We want the conditioner to protect your delicate hair strands!
4. Go for a Swim
Don’t leave the hair out! Put the hair into one big braid or bun. For shorter hair wearing your hair in several twists or braids. This helps prevent the hair from becoming tangled and matted. To fully protect the hair wrap the hair with saran wrap and cover with a swim cap. Even if a bit water gets into the swim cap, the hair is well-protected.
5. Cleanse The Hair
After swimming, rinse out the conditioner and pool water for at least 3-5 minutes and use a cleansing conditioner such as Ko-Wash Cleansing Conditioner for those who choose to swim daily. Shampooing curly or kinky hair daily can be detrimental to the hair causing excessive dryness. Using a cleansing conditioner will cleanse the hair without stripping it you are ready to shampoo. It is recommended to use a chelating shampoo to fully remove chlorine and salt from the hair. The chemicals in the shampoo “chelate” with the chlorine and rinse it out of the hair.
Popular Chelating Shampoos:
L’anza Swim & Sun Daily Shampoo, Joico K-Pak Chelating, Joico Resolve Chelating Shampoo, Nexxus Aloe Rid (with chelating gel), Nexxus Phyto Organics Kelate Purifying Shampoo. Ouidad Water Works, Artec Textureline Daily Clarifying Shampoo, Kenra Clarifying Chelating Shampoo, Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three, Aveda Detox.
6. Apply a Deep Conditioner
Apply a super moisturizing deep conditioner to the hair in sections, cover with a plastic cap and let penetrate for 20-30 minutes.
7. Seal and protect the hair cuticles
Sealing and protecting the hair cuticles helps the hair retain moisture. Use oils and butter such as coconut, olive oil, and shea butter.
8. Use a Low/No Heat Method of Styling
To combat dryness, try air drying the hair in braids, twists or a bun or try setting your hair on roller, rods or curlers and allow the hair to dry overnight or air dry during the day. Try, if possible, to avoid using both a blow dryer and flat iron or curling iron as the direct heat is especially drying to those who swim regularly.
🙂 That’s it for now enjoy your time at the beach/pool.