5 ways to not ruin your hair at the pool

5 ways to not ruin your hair at the pool

The big dipper

Text: Fern Lee

The best pre- and post-swimming haircare tips to ensure your tresses stay in tip top shape come hellish heat and (chlorine) water

I spend most of my days indoors — at work, at home, during sports. During weekends when the sun is shining bright on a beautiful day, there's nothing I love more than soaking in some sun by the pool. While many people know to religiously apply sunscreen on their face and body, the hair is often neglected. Here are five easy ways to keep your shiny locks healthy, even when dipping in a chlorine-filled pool.

Pre-pool prep
We've all head of 'pre-(sham)poo' treatments by now — oil treatments applied to hair prior to shampooing or conditioning. My 'pre-pool' treatment is to saturate hair, from root to tip, using an intensive conditioner or natural oil, ten minutes before heading out. Simple and effective, you can grab any natural oil you have at home — olive oil, coconut oil or argan oil. This protects your hair from the drying effects of chlorine by filling up the porous hair strands and preventing chlorine water from working its way in and  inflict damage — think of your hair strands like a sponge. This is my favourite method of protection, as the conditioning effect it provides makes shampooing the hair afterwards way easier.

Wet your hair first
If you're already by the pool when reading this, don't worry. Another way to prevent chlorine damage is to shower before hitting the pool — filling hair strands with clean water is still better than letting it soak in all that chlorine.
Woman floating in pool

Don't forget UV protection
Sun damage is real — for both skin and hair. And while most of us are pretty good about SPF for our faces and bodies, we tend to neglect our hair. UV rays act like bleach and damage that amazing hair colour job you spent hours (and hundreds) on. It also damages the outside layer of the hair strand — leading to dry and brittle hair, broken or split ends, thinning and frizziness. So cover up by staying under an umbrella or putting on a nice big sun hat, if you're poolside. Some brands also offer hair products that offer some measure of UV protection for your tresses.

Mane control
I know of a few superwoman athletes who spend hours at the pool, training for upcoming competitions. Whether you're an athlete or an athleisure swimmer, put on that swim cap during your laps to protect your hair from the chlorine water. A swim cap also prevents your hair from swishing around in the water, creating tangles. If you're not so keen on a swim cap for aesthetic reasons, simply put it up in your favourite updo — braids, ballerina buns, etc — to lessen the damage.

Post-pool care
It's easy to neglect haircare after a session at the pool especially if you're in a hurry to get to the next place, but it's crucial to rinse off the chlorine water (from your hair and skin) ASAP. Whether you do a full shower with body soap and shampoo, or a thorough rinse with fresh water, make sure to do it as soon as you're out of the pool.