Ah, chlorine. You know it as the stuff that destroys the health of your hair each summer, but its main purpose is actually a positive one. Chlorine is essential for keeping bacteria at bay and keeping your pool water clean. The unwanted side effect? It's also harsh on your hair.
As you probably already know, chlorine is used as a sanitiser in the pools so that swimmers are not exposed to harmful levels of microbes that cause illnesses. As the most common chemical used in the treatment of swimming pool water, chlorine not only eliminates bacteria and algae by disinfecting, it also oxidises (chemically destroys) other materials such as dirt and chloramines.
What you might not know is that chlorine reacts very quickly and strips the natural oils from your hair and skin. To put it simply, by the time your hair and scalp are feeling dry, the chemical reaction has already taken place. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr Marnie B. Nussbaum, “The chemicals found in chlorine will strip the natural oils from your hair and scalp, and this stripping adversely impacts the hair’s cuticle and protein, which is called keratin. Chlorine is also effective at dissolving hair lipids. Hair lipids are needed to coat the hair shaft, providing moisture, shine, and manageability. Hair that is devoid of intact lipids is more prone to static electricity, breakage (in the form of split ends), and hair frizz. The result is dull, dry, and brittle-looking hair that is more prone to damage. Chlorine can also lead to itchy, red, tight, dry skin on the scalp.”
To summarise, here are some of the common effects of regularly exposing your hair to chlorinated water: (Credit: SKINKRAFT)
This means that if you have coloured, damaged, chemically treated or fine hair, you are at risk for more severe chlorine damage to your hair.
Prevention is the key here. Your dry hair is like a sponge that will suck up the chlorinated water if you jump into the swimming pool without wetting your hair first. Try rinsing your hair with cold, clean water before you enter the pool.
After the hair is completely wet, apply a thin layer of leave-in conditioner to add some extra hydration and protection for the hair. The conditioner works as a barrier and will not allow the chlorine to sit on your hair.
We know it’s not the best style you wish to rock, but truly, a swim cap is your last line of defence against chlorinated water.
The best way to stop the damaging effects of chlorine is to rinse it off ASAP. Your hair should be rinsed thoroughly and immediately with fresh water and mild shampoo after a swim, to remove chlorine deposits from your hair. Apply some leave-in conditioner or hair serum to replenish the moisture that chlorine has ripped off.
Oribe educator Adam Livermore strongly encourages his clients to not swim in traditional chlorinated pools, though he knows not everyone will heed his warning. “Honestly, I don’t swim in chlorinated pools and I tell my clients to keep their hair out of pool water completely.” As a hair care expert, Adam understands how much chlorine can wreak havoc to your hair.
Previously we have talked about why MagnaPool is the best choice for sensitive skin compared to traditional chlorine and saltwater pools. But guess what? Our patented MagnaPool® Minerals not only soften and produce silky, sparking clear pool water, it also leave your skin and hair feeling moisturised and soft. Watch this video to see what our customer has to say about how her hair and skin feels after she gets out of a MagnaPool:
Chlorine may be the worst part of pool water for your hair. However, it is required to kill unwanted bacteria and keep swimmers safe from infections and disease from the water. Since you can't avoid it altogether, the best thing you can do is understand what chlorine does to your hair and give it the right care and treatment. So next time you are thinking about spending a summer afternoon by the pool, make sure to take these measures to prevent chlorine from damaging your hair.
Know that you always have the choice to switch to an alternative pool system that naturally conditions your skin and hair. (No swimming cap required!)