Swimming regularly can cause hair to look dull and brittle. One of my favourite weapons against chlorine and dry swimmers hair is to use chlorine removal shampoos.
As a general rule, dedicated chlorine removal shampoos do work. Chlorine shampoos remove the chlorine chemical deposits that bond to the hair. By removing these chlorine chemicals from your hair, you can restore your hair health so it looks less dry and brittle.
In this article, I am going to investigate:
- How does chlorine damage hair?
- How do I protect my hair from chlorinated water?
- Can chlorine turn bleached highlights to green?
- What is the best shampoo for removing chlorine?
I swim every day and my hair can get brittle and dry because of regular exposure to chlorine and pool chemicals.
It is a problem for me as I usually go straight to work after my swim, which means a rushed shower and a bad hair day.
I asked my hairdresser for help, who has over 12 years of experience running her own salon.
She helped me by:
- Recommending dedicated chlorine removal shampoos.
- Giving me a pre-swim hair routine, which I share below.
- giving me a post-swim hair routine, which I share below.
How Does Chlorine Damage Hair?
I always like to know how stuff works and exactly how chlorine is damaging my hair and making it look so dry.
Hair fibres themselves comprise many layers, but according to experts, the outer layer called the cuticle is where the hair becomes damaged.
The chlorine and pool chemicals cause the cuticle to rise, which results in “porous” hair that has the effect of making the hair look dull and dry.
Because of this effect, hair colour will fade with time and hair may break, resulting in split ends.
How Do I Protect My Hair From Chlorine Water? A Hairdresser’s Recommended Hair Care Routine
Prevention is always better than cure, and I asked my hairdresser what steps I could take to protect my hair from chlorine.
My hairdresser recommended the following hair care routine before getting in the pool, which I have found to be excellent in helping my hair look healthy again:
1 – Wet hair before getting into the pool
She recommends wetting the hair so that it is already damp before getting into the pool.
Wetting the hair with clean shower water pre-swim will create a barrier that protects the hair cuticles from further absorption of chlorinated water.
2 – Put a conditioner on the hair before swimming
My hairdresser recommended wetting my hair and placing a small bit of hair conditioner onto the hair before getting into the pool.
A swim cap is necessary to wear if you do this as it will stop the conditioner from being washed out by the pool water.
Just like wetting the hair, the conditioner acts as a further protective barrier to protect the hair cuticles from chlorine.
In addition, many conditioners are silicone or oil-based, which acts as an excellent water barrier to chlorine, preventing absorption.
Another benefit of this step is that your hair is left in conditioner under your swim cap, therefore it feels moisturised after your swim.
I have to be honest – although I agree that this is excellent advice; I do not do this when going into a public pool. I am too concerned that the conditioner could leak out and contaminate the pool!
It is really important to be respectful of shared pool water. Swim caps are not watertight and water will leak into the swim cap and the conditioner will leak out.
I use this technique when swimming in my private garden pool since it is my water and not publically shared.
I keep the chlorine levels in my garden pool on the higher side, although within recommended levels.
This keeps the water clean and safe. However, these higher chlorine levels mean that my hair takes a beating from chlorine every day!
3 – Wear a swim cap
In addition to wetting your hair with water, a swim cap acts as a further barrier, reducing the amount of exposure your hair has to chlorine.
A silicone swim cap will work best as it has the best barrier to water. [source]
As a general rule, swim caps do not keep your hair dry, but they do act as a barrier. The less contact your hair has directly with the chlorine water, the better.
4. Always wash your hair after your swim
After swimming, always wash your hair, ideally with a chlorine removal shampoo such as the TRISWIM Moisturizing Chlorine Removing Shampoo For Swimmers or similar.
Can Chlorine Turn Bleached Highlights To Green?
This is a big concern of mine as I have bleached hair, so I asked my hairdresser for her advice.
As a general rule, it is copper and other hard minerals that are found in water that can give blonde hair a greenish tint over time. The chlorine does not directly contribute to the greening, but because it damages the hair cuticles, it can make the hair more prone to this effect.
Copper is found in all water, even tap water, so this one is hard to avoid.
Copper will turn green over time, which is a natural oxidization process. It is why the Statue of Liberty is green, as the copper material has oxidised.
My hairdresser explained that hair is porous and very absorbent. For example, when we colour our hair, it is the porous and absorbent nature of our hair that allows the colour to remain.
She gave a great example from her own experience, explaining that she often gets clients who want a blonde hair colour or bleached blonde highlight treatment done before going on holiday.
After a colour treatment, the porous hair is very susceptible to damage and absorbing minerals.
Then her clients sit by a pool for two weeks with their newly treated hair, which will be very porous and easily damaged by chlorinated pool water.
She recommends giving your newly coloured hair some time to “settle down” to allow the hair to absorb the colour.
If you are going into the pool, wet your hair first to create a clean water barrier against the poll chemicals and always wear a swimming cap.
My hairdresser reassured me that if this “green tint effect” occurs, it is not permanent and can be reversed.
There are clarifying and deep conditioning treatments available that will reduce the effect and wash out the mineral build-ups.
What Is The Best Shampoo For Removing Chlorine?
Below are the best chlorine removal shampoos that I could find and have used.
My personal favourite is the TriSwim formula, mostly because it is one of the more affordable chlorine removal shampoos out there and does a great job.
When you use a product like this every day, you want it to be affordable, otherwise, those pool membership fees and swimming costs become very expensive.
In addition, I like the Ultra Swim formula as it is fantastic, and a trusted shampoo by nearly all swimmers.
Besides these chlorine removal shampoos, I always finish my hair-care routine with a spray in conditioner, which helps remove the “static” dry effect from the pool and leaves the hair looking moisturised.
TRISWIM Moisturizing Chlorine Removing Shampoo For Swimmers [250ml]
- One of the most afforable chlorine removal shampoos.
- Can be easily purchased online via Amazon
- The tube is nice to hold in the shower and does not slip everywhere.
- Leaves the hair feeiling clean and fresh.
Price range: $13-$15
TRISWIM After Swim Premium Chlorine Removal Set (4x90ml) [90ml]
- In addition to chlorine removal shampoo, TriSwim have an excellent chlorine removal range including shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
- This particular set has smaller sized sample portions, which is a great option to try the full triswim chlorien removal range before spending on the more expensive larger sizes.
- I use the TriSwim chlorine removal shampoo, conditioner and shower gel and it is amazing.
- These products and collection are by far my favourite chlorine remove products.
- The larger (250ml) individual products retail at arrounf $13 each.
Price range: $27-$30
UltraSwim Chlorine Removal Shampoo.
- For years this has been the number one “go-to” chlorine removal shampoo.
- It works well and gets the job done however I recommend using the Ultra Swim Conditioner also to help repair the hair and restore moisture.
Price range: $25-$30