Plus, find out how to protect your strands before you dip one toe into the pool.

By Nashia Baker
June 30, 2021
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Summertime usually means plenty of time spent under the sun, and while you likely have a routine put in place to shield your skin and hair from harsh UV rays, your strands will need some extra care after you take a dip in the pool. Here, experts explain how to prepare your hair before diving into a chlorine pool and how to care for it after a day of swimming.

woman diving underwater in pool
Credit: Tara Moore / Getty Images

Mind your hair type.

"All hair types can experience dryness when it comes to chlorine, as it can ultimately strip natural oils and some of the protective barriers that products can create for hair," says Ngozi Opara, the founder and CEO of Heat Free Hair and a certified hair manufacturing technologist. She explains that the curlier and tighter your hair pattern, though, the more susceptible it will be to extreme dryness and tangling.

Prepare for the pool.

To prevent damage before you get into the pool, Opara says to condition and detangle your hair. Merian Mismmo, the founder and product formulator at Bounce Curl, explains that this is necessary for a few reasons. "Chlorine molecules can get absorbed during swimming and can possibly turn blonde hair into a greenish color," she says. "This may initiate chemical reactions on the hair's surface which accelerate under the sun." Plus, UV rays mixed with chlorine on your hair could cause oxidation of your hair proteins. To avoid this, she suggests using a leave-in conditioner, like the Bounce Curl Moisture Balance Leave-In Conditioner ($23, bouncecurl.com), that will add a water-repellant coating to hair and limit chlorine penetration. If possible, use a swim cap to protect your hair from the chlorine altogether.

Wash with a clarifying shampoo.

"As soon as you come out of the water, immediately rinse, shampoo, detangle, and reapply conditioner," Opara explains. "In terms of product recommendations, I would suggest a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo." She notes that going into a chlorinated pool will strip your hair of its original moisture, so you don't want to use anything harsh. A sulfate-free clarifying shampoo will cleanse the hair and bring it back to life. Mismmo agrees, suggesting the Bounce Curl Gentle Clarifying Shampoo ($19.99, bouncecurl.com) as a helpful option.

Condition, condition, condition.

Then, turn to a moisturizing deep conditioner. "Use our Hydra-Drench Cleansing Conditioner ($19.99, bouncecurl.com) which cleanses and conditions hair at the same time," Mismmo adds. "It's sulfate-free, as well, and is infused with a variety of emollients to detangle and define hair." If you have a curly or coily pattern, you will need to continue adding even more moisture to your hair for the next few days after a swim. Protection is also key for these natural hair types post-swim. For low-manipulation styling, Opara recommends those with 4B or 4C textures to use a headband wig from Heat Free Hair (from $249, heatfreehair.com) to keep strands healthy.

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