Despite the physical and mental benefits that swimming provides, a chlorinated pool also exposes you to the following horrors: green hair, split ends, dry and brittle locks, and broken strands. The chemicals and hard minerals found in pools cause healthy hair to quickly become damaged, while processed hair that’s been colored, straightened, or permed will also dry out and look worse for the wear. A day swimming at the beach can be equally damaging to hair due to wind, salt water, and sun.
What’s a swim enthusiast to do?
It is possible to enjoy regular swim workouts and maintain healthy locks without succumbing to expensive salon treatments or a closet full of products. If you’re looking to keep your hair healthy or reverse previous damage, follow these three quick, simple, and inexpensive hair care tips for swimmers:
Step 1: Pre-treatment
Just like vitamins and supplements are used to prevent illness, a pre-swim solution should always be applied before swimming to keep hair healthy and strong. Designed to seal the cuticle and keep chemicals and environmental toxins from penetrating the hair shaft, slathering on a leave-in treatment will keep hair moisturized and soft. Additionally, pre-treatment solutions will prevent hair from tangling before, during and after swim practice.
Step 2: Cover
Granny may have been on to something when she donned her pink, plastic, daisy-covered swimming cap before wading into the shallow end. While they may be considered old-fashioned or unstylish by some, a true swimmer knows that swim caps are used by professionals to reduce drag and resistance, thereby shaving important seconds from their swimming time.
But swim caps aren’t just a tool to help you swim faster. By covering the entire head, swim caps protect hair strands from chlorinated water. Today’s swim caps come in a variety of colors, sizes, and material. From polyester to natural rubber, with chin straps or without, modern and high-tech caps can even insulate a swimmer’s head from cold water. When shopping for a new swim cap, look for soft, flexible material that will conform tightly to the head and keep hair from shifting underneath the cap while swimming. And remember: no swim cap is 100% leak-proof, but we find that bubble-style caps seem to keep hair driest.
Step 3: Rinse
When you leave the pool, don’t just slick your hair back and go. The last and most important step to keeping your hair in great condition is to rinse out any chlorine that may have penetrated your safeguards. If left on the hair shaft, these chemicals will dry out your hair and lead to breakage. The sooner you rinse your hair, the better. It’s a good idea to hop in the shower as soon as you step out of the pool.
While you can use any shampoo to wash your hair, specialized swimming shampoos feature ingredients such as aloe vera and vitamin e which boost moisturizing effects. The right shampoo will stop discoloration and make tangles easy to comb through. Using a shampoo with added conditioners takes even less time and less space in your gym bag.
Being a swimmer no longer has to mean sporting dry and damaged locks. An easy-to-follow system can keep your hair hydrated, soft, and shiny. Even if you visit the pool every day, your hair doesn’t need to look as dry and damaged as the swimmer in the next lane.