How to Protect and Restore Every Hair Type Before and After Swimming
It's a sad truth: Whatever your type, texture, or length, swimming will damage your strands. The good news is there's no reason why that has to stop you from taking dip; there are plenty of simple ways to protect your hair before a day spent in the pool or ocean. To help you understand how to enjoy a season of swimming and great hair, we spoke with celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois, Kérastase's Global Inclusivity Advisor & Educator, and Bumble and bumble colorist Dana Yurick. Their best advice? Take a two-pronged approach and act proactively and reactively. Discover their pre- and post-swimming hair care tips, which are universal for all types and textures, they say, below.
Chlorine and salt are your hair's worst enemies.
Chlorine and salt are the main culprits of swimming-induced hair damage, since they dry out strands, says Francois, and if you already have dry or damaged hair to begin with, a dip can exacerbate the issue. Chlorinated or salty water, he adds, will cause color-treated hair to lose its vibrancy. Yurick agrees: "The chlorine in the pool is what does the damage, as it's another chemical we are putting in our hair," she says. "The reaction can lead to dry, brittle strands." As for the body of water that will do the least amount of damage? Lakes won't cause any issues, she explains—and oceans and salt-water pools are less deleterious than chlorine-filled ones.
Protect your hair with oil or a swim cap.
According to Francois, it's always a good idea to thoroughly rinse your hair with clean, fresh water before you swim—no matter your length or texture, and regardless of the type of water you're splashing around in. This, he says, will minimize the amount of salt or chlorine that strands absorb. If your hair is long enough, put it up, advises Yurick. But before you style your ponytail or bun, Francois suggests adding some olive oil, which will repel water, protecting your hair in the process.
If you'd rather use a product, Yurick suggests Bumble and bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer ($29, ulta.com); spritz it on before you dive in. Another option? Consider using a silicone swimming cap, which can minimize the contact your hair has with the water, says Francois. He suggests the Soul Cap ($20.99, soulcoup.com), which has a range for those with lots of hair. He also suggests applying a leave-in conditioner before you put on the cap; this is a great way to treat and protect hair as you swim.
Rinse and nourish strands as soon as possible.
After-care is also similar for all hair types. Once you're done swimming, Francois suggests cleansing with a sulfate-free shampoo, like Kérastase Bain Après Soleil (from $21, kerastase-usa.com), and using downward strokes to thoroughly rinse strands. Yurick affirms this, noting that it is key to wash your hair after you swim. "Don't let the chlorine sit longer than it has to," she says. She recommends using a conditioning shampoo, like Bumble and bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo ($31, sephora.com) or Bb.Curl Moisturizing Shampoo ($31, ulta.com). Next, apply a conditioning hair mask designed specifically for your hair type; apply this at least once a week. If you swim regularly, use a restorative conditioning treatment overnight, says Francois. In the end, it's all about finding the right regimen that suits your strands: "Explore what works for you," he says. "Everyone's hair is unique."