Although summer is coming to an end, I still wanted to share my tips for protecting your natural hair while swimming.
My siblings and I grew up with an in-ground pool so we spent most of our summers in the pool. As a child, I can vividly remember my sisters and I having to wear the most annoying and uncomfortable swim caps in order for us to go swimming. Those caps rarely worked because our hair would still be drenched. I also remember the caps sticking to our heads and making it even more uncomfortable!
The chlorine would’ve wreaked havoc on our hair if it weren’t our parents. I remember our mom drenching our hair in conditioner prior to swimming. She would also braid our hair in multiple pieces in order to prevent the chlorine from damaging our hair. Our dad would then hose us down to rinse our hair out right after we got out. It truly was a family affair!..lol.
Whether you’re headed to the beach or to the pool, protection for your hair is a must from the harmful effects of chlorine and salt water. Here are some helpful tips to protect your hair from the harmful effects of chlorine, salt water and the sun:
- Wet your hair. Saturate your hair with lukewarm water. Wet hair will actually absorb less chlorine/salt water than dry hair. Think about a middle school science class experiment with a sponge and bucket of water. If you place a dry sponge into the bucket of water it will absorb all of the water until it’s filled right? Now if you were to take that same sponge and place it into the bucket again it would not absorb any more water. That’s because it has already been filled to capacity. There is no more room for any additional water. The same scenario applies to wet hair with chlorine and salt water. Similar to the sponge, when hair is saturated with water the shaft is full and swollen. We are giving our hair minimal room to absorb chlorine or saltwater.
- Coat your hair with conditioner, coconut oil or hair serum: After you’ve wet your hair, apply a conditioner to your hair for extra coating and moisture. I like to use protein based conditioners such as Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strenghten Grow & Restore Conditioner or Jane Carter Solution Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner. Coupled with water, conditioners give you hair the protective shield it needs against the harmful effects of both chlorine and saltwater. What I love about Jane Carter Solution is that their products provide natural protection against direct sunlight and heat. You can also opt for a more inexpensive method and apply unrefined coconut oil or hair serum to help seal the cuticles of the hair shaft. Both will help create a protective barrier between your hair and chlorinated water/salt water.
- Put your hair up: DO NOT WEAR YOUR HAIR OUT. If you leave your hair out you will end up with a matted and tangled mess. Be sure to braid or twist your hair in several pieces and tie it up or put your hair in a bun. I would refrain from cornrow styles. Chlorine and saltwater dry out our hair enough. Cornrows would be even more difficult to unravel. It’s best to wear your hair in its most natural state. Afterwards wrap your hair in Saran Wrap and use a swim cap for coverage. I wish my parents knew about this tip when we were kids! This would’ve prevented a lot of tears and friction from removing the caps!..lol.
- Rinse after swimming: Even if you can’t get to a shower immediately after swimming, be sure to use a hose and rinse your hair out. You need to rid your hair of not only the chlorine or saltwater but also of the conditioner you previously applied. You should rinse for at least 3 to 5 minutes.
- Cleanse after swimming: You should cleanse with chelating shampoos. Chelating agents bind with the chemicals, minerals and metals in chlorinated water and hard water to remove them from the hair. If you swim daily be sure to use a conditioning cleanser in between washes/swims to minimize the drying effects of daily cleansing.
- Deep condition: It is essential to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment after cleansing. It is even more necessary after using a chelating product because it will strip your hair of everything, including our hair’s natural oils. I like to use heavily moisturizing treatments by Camille Rose Naturals, Shea Moisture and Bee Mine Organics.
I hope your tresses stay protected this summer!