Swimming is a fun, healthy activity, but it can wreak havoc on your hair. Chlorine and trace metals in pool water are harsh on your hair and can leave it dry, damaged, and the color of a freshly mowed lawn. Unfortunately, once the hair is damaged, there is no real way to repair it except for cutting it off and starting over. I know several guys who spend their summers swimming and then buzzing their heads to remove the damaged hair.

That’s fine, but unless you want to give yourself a buzzcut, maintaining your hair while swimming is important. To help reduce the damage and avoid swimmers’ hair, try following the tips on preventing swimmers’ hair below before you get in the water.

  • Saturate. Mix one tablespoon of a good leave-in conditioner with a pint of tap water. Pour this mix into a spray bottle and thoroughly saturate your hair before getting into the pool. This will help stop your hair from soaking up the harsh, chlorinated pool water.
  • Protect. Wear a swim cap. If your ego can handle this fashion statement, wet your hair and wear a cap in the water for extra protection. This is an excellent way to keep your hair from soaking up pool water.
  • Get Salted. If possible, consider swimming in a saltwater pool, rather than a pool sanitized with chlorine. Salt water is much less damaging to the skin and hair (and you don’t get that burning sensation in the eyes). Saltwater pools are becoming much more common as salt is much more “earth friendly” than chlorine.
  • Clean. If possible, shampoo your hair instantly after getting out of the pool. This will help extract the chlorine before it can do a great deal of damage. A clarifying shampoo is usually not necessary unless your hair has already taken on a greenish hue. Otherwise, a good moisturizing shampoo followed by a deep conditioner will do the trick. After shampooing, use a wide tooth comb and pat your hair dry (as opposed to rubbing with a towel) to prevent damage. Allow the hair to air dry.
  • Maintain. Get a Haircut. Keeping your hair trimmed regularly during the summer can help remove damaged ends and keep it looking healthy. If you enjoy short hair, I suggest going for a tight buzzcut during the summer – this type of style is so much easier for a swimmer to maintain and virtually eliminates the need to go through extra steps to care for your hair while swimming.

The tips above can help keep your mane looking great all summer long. If you swim regularly, even with the above precautions, you’re likely to experience some damage to your hair, but with proper care, the damage will be minimal. See you at the pool!

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