Sweet summertime. One of the summer’s greatest past times is taking a nice refreshing swim in the pool. Whether it is your community pool, a hotel pool, or a family pool in your backyard, these locals all have one thing in common: chlorine. While chlorine is a safe and necessary chemical to sanitize swimming pools, it can also be kryptonite to your hair. After all, your hair is already getting bathed in sunshine and possibly battling humidity. Chlorine can dry out your hair, causing easy breakage, a brittle texture, and dreaded split ends.
Despite this, there is no need to skip the pool this summer. Instead, you can try a handful of our tips to care for damaged hair from chlorine. Use the damage as a teachable moment and take preventative steps before your next swim session.
What Does Chlorine Damaged Hair Look Like?
Let’s start with the basics. Your hair is mainly made up of keratin, you know, that super smoothing protein. Your hair is also made up of natural oils called sebum. When keratin and sebum combine, you have hydrated, sleek, strong, and smooth strands. Chlorine can bond with your natural sebum and draw it out of your hair. When you remove that naturally occurring nourishing moisture, your hair can look dull, brittle, and dry.
Keratin isn’t off the hook, either. Chlorine can also bond with keratin, weakening it and making your hair thinner. Yikes! Plus, chlorine also likes to mess with the color pigment of your hair, melanin. The whole “chlorine can turn your hair green” claim is kind of a myth. However, chlorine can cause hair color changes depending on how long you expose your hair to the chemical.
So, what does chlorine damaged hair look like? Dry, brittle, straw-like, and dull.
7 Ways to Repair Damaged Hair from Chlorine
If you’re already experiencing chlorine damaged hair, you don’t have to skip the pool indefinitely. Instead, try some of these tips.
Deep condition your hair – When your hair is damaged by chlorine, it wants nothing more than to be hydrated and moisturized. This is why a deep conditioning treatment is a way to go. By carefully conditioning every strand, you can work to rebuild that moisture loss while protecting your hair from losing precious sebum or keratin.
Clarify your hair – The odds that chlorine is building up in your hair and scalp are pretty high. So, to combat this, try an apple cider vinegar rinse to remove any buildup. You can also use a clarifying shampoo to help eliminate the amount of chemicals still stuck in your hair.
Be mindful of the scalp – Unfortunately, chlorine can dry your scalp. When your scalp is too dry, it can get itchy and flaky. Be sure to massage your scalp to increase blood flow to the skin, and consider trying a hair mask to repair the damage from root to tip.
Wash your hair before and after chlorine exposure – If you wash your hair, or at the very least rinse your hair, before jumping into the pool, your hair can hold onto moisture from the clean water you use pre-swim. This makes it less likely to dry out when chlorine tries to bond with your sebum to draw it out. Then after your swim, rewash your hair to remove any chlorine residue.
Try Argan oil – Argan oil is packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can repair and protect damaged hair. It can also improve elasticity, making your hair harder to break. Just put a few drops in your palms and rub through your hair after washing it. You can also use aloe vera for the same purpose, whichever you have handy.
Wear a swim cap – To prevent further damage, consider tucking your rinsed hair into a swim cap before enjoying the pool. The cap can help reduce the amount of chlorine exposure your hair undergoes while keeping your locks safe and healthy. Plenty of swim caps are available that protect your hair and are easy to wear.
Try a protein treatment – Want to combat the keratin destruction chlorine inflicts on your luscious locks? Look no further than a protein treatment to help rebuild your keratin supplies. Choose a natural treatment free of chemicals or parabens for best results. Ask your stylist for recommendations before selecting a product.
Types of Hair Prone to Chlorine Damage
Certain hair types may experience more negative effects of chlorine damage than others. Mainly, individuals with dry hair can experience excessive drying thanks to chlorine. If you have thin or fine hair, chlorine can make it even thinner. If your hair has been colored or chemically treated, your hair is already vulnerable and is at a higher risk of chlorine damage.
Dreaded “Swimmer’s Hair”
Chlorine itself won’t turn your hair green, but it will bond to specific metals it finds in swimming pools, and that can unleash a chemical reaction. When chlorine bonds to metals, such as copper and iron, it can cause light-colored hair to turn a dull, ashy green. You can fix this by washing your hair with baking soda and water, creating a lemon juice wash, or trying a commercial swimmer’s hair shampoo and conditioner.
Talk to Your Stylist
Above all, you may want to talk to your stylist about your damaged hair from chlorine concerns. Your stylist will be able to determine if you need a clarifying hair treatment, deep conditioning, or a specialized hair mask to repair any damage and prevent future damage. Be sure to discuss how frequently you swim in chlorinated pools so you can develop a damage prevention plan that works for you.
Be patient! After significant chlorine damage, it can take some time for your hair to show signs of strength and repair. The important thing is to realize how dangerous chlorine can be to your hair and take the proper steps to avoid damage in the future.