Ask A Colorist: How Do I Protect My Hair From Swimming in Chlorine?

Don’t let a dip in the pool stress out your strands.

When it’s finally summertime, we’re all excited to enjoy some pool time. While swimming might be one of your favorite summer activities, chlorinated water can cause some major stress to your hair and hair color.  At a glance, this chemical is known to strip your strands of their natural oils leaving them dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. And for our babes with color-treated hair, it has been found to fade your color faster and bring out unwanted tones in your locks, resulting in faded, flat hair color. 

Lucky for you, there are a number of ways to help protect your strands from swimming in chlorine so you can still enjoy a few laps around the pool. Read on to learn more about how this chemical may affect your hair and tips from our team of professional colorists on how to shield your strands from damage. 

What does chlorine do to your hair?

Let’s break it down. Chlorine is a harsh chemical agent, commonly used to disinfect pool water. So, how does pool water affect your hair?

Cause strands to dry out.

With chlorine being so harsh, it’s no surprise that dry and brittle strands are a direct result of frequent pool days. This disinfecting agent strips the hair of its hydration by depleting the natural oils in both your scalp and strands that work to retain moisture.

Change or fade your hair color.

Chlorine can have a negative effect on all hair, however, it may have a much larger impact on those with color-treated locks. This chemical can react with your hair dye causing more rapid color fade or unwanted tones, such as the commonly known “green hair” from the pool.

Cause hair to lose its luster.

Taking a swim in chlorinated water can also make your hair more porous and less conducive to retaining its essential nutrients. This results in a decreased ability for your locks to retain their healthy-looking shine as well as making them more susceptible to further damage. 

How to Protect Your Hair from Swimming in Chlorine

Now that we have the nasties out of the way, let’s get into our top five hacks to protect your strands from chlorine damage this summer.

Rinse hair before getting in the pool.

Our team of professional colorists has found that one of the easiest and most affordable ways to help prevent damage caused by chlorine is by giving your mane a quick rinse with fresh water before you make a splash. Your dry hair acts as a sponge, so pre-wetting your hair with chlorine-free water works to fill the cuticle so that it absorbs less of the harsh chemicals found in most swimming pools.

Apply a leave-in conditioner or conditioner.

It's a good idea to apply a leave-in conditioner to your already wet hair to provide an extra layer of protection that may stop any chemicals from soaking into the hair shaft. Plus, leave-in conditioners are often designed to hydrate strands so this extra step can help alleviate any dryness you get from swimming. 

An excellent option for this summer is our Universal Leave-In conditioner. This leave-in is formulated with fortifying ingredients like Rice Seed Protein and Rice Bran Extract, which replenish and reinforce your locks with the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy-looking shine and rich overall color.

Bottle of universal leave in treatment against a water background.

Wear a swim cap.

If your preferred cardio is getting in some daily laps but you’re serious about preventing damaged strands, a swim cap may be your new poolside BFF. While a swimming cap may not be your most fabulous poolside accessory, these caps are a great physical barrier between your locks and the pool. Avoiding the chemically treated water altogether by keeping your strands virtually untouched with a swimming cap is perhaps the most effective method to prevent chlorine-related damage. And healthy hair never goes out of style so you might be a trendsetter this summer.

Rinse or wash hair after a swim.

We went over your pre-rinse, now it’s time to cover the post-rinse. Rinsing your hair out with fresh water can help wash away any impurities that may have soaked into your strands. If you’re able to wash your hair, this can also help reduce any lingering chemicals or buildup that may cause further irritation or damage. 

For a gentle cleanse post-swim, try our Cream CoWash. This 2-in-1 cleanser is a great single-step option for on-the-go when your locks need a little TLC. Formulated with premium ingredients like Quinoa and Keratin, this cleanser not only works to revive and protect your color, but to also increase your hair’s overall strength.

Bottle of cream cowash cleanser against a water background.

 Add a hair mask or concentrated treatment to your summer hair care routine.

If you love swimming, there are ways to help address some of the damage caused by chlorine. Incorporating hydration-focused elements into your daily hair care regime is a wonderful place to start. We suggest adding weekly treatments to your routine such as hair masks and serums to boost moisture and rehydrate your strands.

We suggest our Weekly Retreat for those looking for a rich conditioning mask. This treatment is formulated with indulgent ingredients like Quinoa for color protection along with Avocado Oil and Jojoba Seed Oil to replenish and nourish your strands. 

Another restorative option for our color-treated queens is our Color Pro Boosters. We suggest our Moisture or Color Protect Boosters for optimal protection against chlorine this summer. Crafted with nourishing ingredients like Sunflower Seed Oil and Quinoa, these boosters are formulated to protect and extend your color’s life this summer season.

Bottle of weekly retreat and color pro booster treatment against a water background.

Don't let chlorine spoil your summer fun or fade your beautiful hair color. With these top tips, you can protect your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine while still enjoying the swimming pool. Whether you're pre-wetting your hair, using a swim cap, or incorporating our professional hair care products into your routine, you'll enjoy healthy-looking, vibrant hair all season long. So dive in, swim carefree, and let eSalon be your trusted companion in maintaining gorgeous, chlorine-free locks. For more ways to get gorgeous, radiant hair this summer, follow us @eSalon on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.