How To Protect Hair When Swimming

Find out how to fight and prevent the frizz for healthy tresses even after a trip to the chlorinated pool.

Beautiful, shiny, and smooth hair — we all try to achieve this golden standard through the foods we eat, beauty routines we adopt, and sports we play. 

Dips in the pool introduce chlorine to our hair that strips it of its natural oils, leaving our tresses looking dull and weak. 

Run your fingers through your hair and it feels tight and dry to the touch; does this sound familiar? 

We all know that uncomfortable sensation. But don’t sweat it just yet; we found some tips to familiarise you with the ins and outs of hair care before, during, and after your swim.

What Does Chlorine Exposure Mean For Your Hair?

According to Healthline, your body’s sebaceous glands produce a waxy, oily substance called sebum that coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin. Our hair follicles are surrounded by these same sebaceous glands, protecting it from moisture loss. 

When chlorine comes into contact with the sebum in your hair, the chlorine will extract them, leaving your hair duller and weaker than it was before. Also, prolonged exposure will lead to split ends, a physically-weakened hair shaft, and brittle hair. Therefore, caution is required to minimize these effects for a swimmer. 

Tips to Protect Your Hair 

If you’re a regular swimmer, coming into contact with chlorinated water is unavoidable, but there are some steps that you can take to protect your hair while you have your worry-free workout.


While the porosity levels of our hair vary due to genetics, they are naturally able to absorb and retain water. 

“Once it’s saturated with moisture, very little chlorine will enter the shaft,” says Nicole Hitchcock, owner of NH2 Salon, a luxury hair salon in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hence, take the time to rinse hair quickly with fresh water before heading to the pool water to reduce the chemical damage that chlorine can inflict on them. 


While wetting the hair builds a protective layer, using natural oils can help to lock in moisture and reinforce this barrier. 

Celebrity colorist, Lorri Goddard, says “it creates a slippery barrier between your strands and [the] harmful chlorine.” 

Do make sure to keep it covered as prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays will cook your hair. Here is a quick breakdown of the oils you can use and their additional benefits:

  • Moroccan oil: packed with omega fatty acids, this gem hydrates and balances the pH levels of your scalp. Also, “it deeply moisturizes without making the hair feel heavy or greasy,” says celebrity stylist Dmitri Giannetos who works with Camila Cabello.    

  • Coconut oil: this essential helps stimulate hair growth, protects it from protein loss when wet, moisturizes, prevents breakage, split-ends, and slows down hair loss. I have used this personally and this sweet-smelling oil is sure to light up a smile on your face as well!

  • Olive oil: high in antioxidants, this improves the circulation of blood and overall scalp health. It can also treat and smooth broken or burnt ends of your hair.  


A swim cap gives a swimmer more speed and lesser drag, but it can also give you another layer of protection for your tresses while you swim. 

I’ve found them to be an affordable addition, plus you can reuse them for a long time (the swim cap I own is still going strong after four years).


Although it is hard to detect, there will always be residual chlorine on your skin and hair after leaving the pool. By showering, you eliminate the possibility of chemical build up on your skin and scalp. Make sure to use a chlorine-removal shampoo to clear the chlorine deposits off you too.  


Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! 

After sudsing up, make sure to restore the moisture that the chlorine has chased away from your strands. Use a leave-in deep conditioning hair mask that can help to welcome that shine and moisture you adore.  

Leave-in conditioners are a fantastic way to replenish your hair, re-hydrate, and soothe your scalp. 


The best offense is a good defense. 

Keep your hair strong and healthy to ensure that they will not be susceptible to damage by the chlorine. So treat your hair like a princess with foods known to increase your hair and scalp health such as protein and iron. 

According to NDTV Food, “if you do not consume enough protein, your body will ration the quantity available by cutting off the supply to the hair follicles. If you don’t eat enough protein, your hair is likely to become dry and brittle.” Iron is also required to grow the hair follicles; iron deficiency can lead to extreme fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, and anxiety. 

Therefore, make sure to keep your health in check so that when you hit the swimming pool, your hair is prepared to weather the damages. 

Aside from being fun and a form of stress reliever, swimming is one of the lowest impact sport you can find. It also delivers physical benefits from muscle strength and endurance to cardiovascular fitness and a decrease in arterial stiffness.

So while it is essential to be in good shape, the same dedication to health should apply to your hair as well for that all-round healthy exercise. For more hair care tips, click on this article to find out what to avoid to make sure your hair maintains its beautiful and healthy shine throughout the day.

You can also read our popular post on how heavy is wet hair.



Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Ria Chia
A geek and education enthusiast living in Singapore. I write about personal development, health and mostly anything that comes along.
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