To swim or not to swim? That is the ultimate question, at least when it comes to the risk of chlorine damage on your hair and skin.
When it comes to swimming in a public pool, you’ll know the water that you wade in contains strong, often pungent chemicals. Chlorine is the weapon of choice when it comes to keeping pools and jacuzzi free of bacteria, viruses and other unwanted microorganisms. Unfortunately, high levels of chlorine can be harmful to humans as well and can cause certain side effects such itchiness and irritation to the skin and eyes. Strongly chlorinated pools can strip away the colour from your swimsuit, as well as alter the colour of your dyed hair. If you have sensitive skin or if you aren’t a fan of the harsh smell of chlorinated pools, we recommend swimming in saltwater pools or in the sea instead, whenever you crave for a dip.
To check out some unfortunate ways chlorine can affect your skin and hair. From dry and flaky skin to split ends, these reasons might be enough to make you want to think twice before soaking yourself for hours in that fancy hotel swimming pool or jacuzzi.
How to protect your hair and skin from Chlorine damage?
Before You Swim – Skin & Hair Chlorine Damage Control
The crusade against chlorine is mostly fought on the post-swim front, but there are a few preventative measures you can take. Before you get in the pool, soak your hair with fresh water and apply an oil-based, leave-in conditioning treatment. “Your hair is like a sponge and can only absorb so much moisture, so loading your hair with water and hydrating oils can help minimize the space for chlorine to fill.
When it comes to your skin, skip the specially formulated pre-swim lotions. They may minimize chlorine damage, but some skin care products can interact with chlorine to create potentially carcinogenic by-products. Plus, pre-swim lotions can make your SPF less effective. Speaking of SPF, make sure to slather waterproof sunscreen 15 minutes before swimming. It probably won’t do a whole lot to protect your skin against chemical damage; in theory, thicker sunscreens may act as a barrier between your skin and the chlorine, but the science is still out on that. At the very least, the SPF will protect your skin from sun damage.
After You Swim – Skin & Hair Chlorine Damage Reduction
Once you’re out of the water, rinse from top to toes with fresh water. Lather up with a mild cleanser, and clean your hair with a gentle or colour-safe shampoo and conditioner. Clarifying shampoos may balance the scalp’s pH, but the acidity of some can damage the hair over time.
Because even tap water is chlorinated to some degree, it’s very important moisturize after showering. Reach for a lotion with ceramides and alpha hydroxy acid to hydrate and help restore the pH balance of your skin, respectively. Moisturize every inch of your skin, taking extra care at the cuticles around the nails, as well as where skin is thinnest and therefore most susceptible to chlorine damage (elbows, chest, shoulders, backs of your hands, and under the eyes).
Minimize the damage of chlorine by going into the pool with the healthiest hair, skin, and nails possible. Your nails, in particular become brittle when submerged too often in water. So, try and wear gloves when you’re doing the dishes. Don’t use acetone nail polish remover too often, and apply a hydrating basecoat before a manicure, which creates a protective layer to keep your nails strong. At bedtime, make applying cuticle oil the last step before turning off the lights.