There are some pretty simple fixes and remedies to help eliminate chlorine hair damage. First there’s prevention and then there’s repair.
Chlorine is in every pool. Even ‘salt water pool systems’ generate chlorine. And chlorine, while necessary to kill bacteria in water, is added to all water, in California we definitely suffer an over-abundance of it.
Yes, it’s basically bleach, like Clorox you buy in the grocery. It affects all hair, colored or natural, pretty much the same way:
- it attracts copper oxides that turn hair green
- Chlorine weakens hair follicles
- it dries hair out
- makes hair brittle
- causes split ends
- dulls your hair and creates a loss of shine
- strips natural oils out
How to Prevent Chlorine Damage to Hair
Before you get into the pool, rinse your hair with water. Your hair will absorb the fresh water instead of the chlorinated water in the pool
Apply cream rinse or leave in conditioner to your hair before swimming. This provides a coating barrier on the hair shaft to prevent chlorine from soaking into your hair.
A bit of olive or coconut oil provides the same barrier.
Apply a silicone-polymer conditioner to hair before swimming. This helps prevent copper particles from clinging to hair.
Braids, buns, topknots can condense your hair and prevent chlorinated water from continually soaking into your hair.
After you get out of the pool, minimally rinse your hair after every swim.
Shampoo your hair immediately after swimming to remove as much chlorine as possible with a shampoo that’s made for swimmers, such as Tri-Swim Shampoo. The shampoo should contain EDTA or chelating ingredients that break down and remove metals in your hair. Stop using swimmer’s shampoo once the green hue disappears, though — too much of this product can be harsh for your hair.
If you use shampoos and conditioners to remove the chlorine, you can choose organic options that use natural ingredients, such as Aubrey Organics. Ingredients found in these products include aloe vera, vitamin E, vitamin A and sea kelp to remove chlorine and copper as well as moisturize hair.
Remove Chlorine After You Swim
Using Fruit Acids: Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar, tomato juice or lemon juice over your hair after swimming. Work it through your hair with a wide-tooth comb, wait for 10 minutes and then rinse out in the shower. Vinegar, tomato and lemon juice are all very acidic, and they’ll remove copper oxides from hair naturally.
Baking Soda and Club Soda: Sprinkle baking soda on your hair after swimming. Sprinkle enough baking soda to cover the entire wet area. Leave the baking soda in place for five minutes. Rinse the baking soda out with club soda. You may need a liter or more depending on the length of your hair. Then, shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would, and use lukewarm water to keep it from drying out.