Summer fun options may be limited this year, but most experts agree swimming pools are safe places to cool off. But while splashing around in the pool is good for your fitness and soothing for your psyche, it can be a bit of a minefield for the condition and your hair color. If you’re spending lots of time in deep water right now, you may notice that your hair may be less healthy than normal, and your hair color might be a little bit “off.” But here’s good news—you don’t have to keep your head above water in order to preserve your hair color. The experts at Biolage explain just how chlorine damages your hair and offer hair care tips for before and after swimming in a chlorinated pool.
What Is Chlorine And What Does It Do To Your Hair?
Chlorine is a chemical that’s commonly used to kill bacteria and to disinfect, which is why it’s added to pool water in small amounts. Chlorine loves to bond with other elements, so when it enters pool water, it will bond with metallic substances such as sodium, potassium, or copper if those elements are present, and turn them into salts which can be drying to hair and skin.
It also actually attaches itself to your hair and skin, and when it does it begins to draw out your hair’s natural moisture, or sebum, and break down your hair structure, causing it to become dry and brittle over time. It also pulls out your melanin in hair —the element which gives your hair its natural color--which is why your hair color will begin to fade if you swim frequently. If you have colored hair chlorine will bond with the artificial color and draw it out quickly. What’s more, when chlorine bonds with copper, it creates a chemical compound that is known for its bright, blue-green color, which can ultimately cause your hair to turn pale green. Needless to say, lounging and laps in the water can be extremely hard on your hair and your hair color.
How To Prevent Chlorine Damaged Hair Before Swimming In A Chlorinated Pool
To keep your hair healthy and your hair color on point no matter how many times you dive in, consider a two-pronged approach. Start before you go swimming, by saturating your hair completely. According to Biolage Artistic Director Dilek Onur Taylor, doing this mimics the action of a sponge by filling your hair with “good” water so it will no longer be able to absorb the chlorinated pool water.
Next, apply a protective formula that will maintain your hair’s moisture. You may choose either a water-repellant treatment oil that also nourishes hair, or a hair oil treatment that strengthens and replenishes fragile hair.
Another pre-swimming option is to apply a hydrating conditioner or treatment mask to your damp hair. Doing this will not only protect hair from chlorine, it will use the power of the sun to help the mask’s moisturizing and nourishing ingredients penetrate into your strands. To apply hair oil treatment, conditioner or mask, divide your hair into sections and work the formula into each section thoroughly with your fingers. Then comb through with a wide-tooth comb to ensure even distribution.
Finally, pop on a swimming cap before you hit the diving board. The cap will minimize contact with the pool water and there’s a bonus--the oil treatment or moisturizing hair mask that you applied prior will make it easier to put your cap on and take it off!
How To Prevent Chlorine Damaged Hair After Swimming In A Chlorinated Pool
As soon as you’re out of the water, try to hit the shower and rinse your hair as thoroughly as possible to remove chlorine and all the rest of the pool chemicals and prevent them from interacting with your hair any further. Next, reach for a purifying shampoo. These formulas cleanse your hair more deeply than your daily shampoo, removing buildup and chemicals that may have attached themselves to your strands. Look for purifying shampoos that will cleanse deeply without drying your hair, such as Biolage CleanReset with lemongrass.
Now it’s time to hydrate like crazy, to prevent tangles and frizz and to restore the moisture that was sucked out by the swimming pool chlorine, not to mention the other pool chemicals, the sun and the purifying shampoo.
Choose a conditioner based on your hair type. If you have colored hair, select a conditioner that will maintain the shine and depth of your hair color. If you’re prone to frizz, grab a conditioner that repels humidity. If your hair is on the dry side, look for a rich conditioning balm.
Also, summer is the best time to add a weekly or bi-weekly hair treatment mask to your hair care routine. Modern formulas like Biolage Advanced Deep Treatment Masks, notes Onur Taylor, provide professional-level restorative results in lightweight, cost-effective formulas. There are options for a variety of hair types, including dry, damaged, color-treated or frizz-prone.
Finally, finish off every shampoo and conditioning regimen with a multi-purpose leave-in treatment spray. These versatile formulas eliminate tangles, add shine, repel frizz, protect hair from heat damage, prep hair for styling and so much more.
Now that your hair is primed and ready to fight the negative effects of chlorine and other chemicals, go ahead and paddle in that beautiful swimming pool to your heart’s content!