You hear many women of color refusing to swim or even get in the water for fear of getting their hair wet. My family had a pool growing up and I can remember throwing out threats such as “You better not get my hair wet!”, while sitting on the edge of the pool with just my feet in the water. Much of the protest was because I didn’t want my straight hair to curl up (how ironic) but I was also concerned about the potential damage resulting from the chemicals in my hair mixing with the chlorine. Don’t think for a minute that you don’t have to worry about this just because you have natural hair. Natural hair is not a protected class and chlorine damage does not discriminate based on hair type or texture. Without proper care, your delicate tresses will suffer. Just a few steps will prepare you so that you can enjoy the benefits of swimming and instead of simply sitting on the side line looking cute, while minimizing damage caused by swimming in chlorinated water. Not only is it supreme summer fun, it is great exercise and a stress reliever. #WINWIN right?! If you were not a swimmer as a young child, it’s never too late to enroll in swim lessons.
As for that preparation I spoke of:· Saturate your hair - sounds silly right? Why do I need to wet my hair BEFORE I get in the water? Quick answer – wet hair will soak up less chlorine (or sea salt) than dry hair will.
· Apply coconut oil (unrefined is best) prior to getting in the water (preferably the night before). Hair will absorb the coconut oil strengthening the hair shaft thus providing extra protection against the chlorine. Is there anything coconut oil can’t do?
· Coat hair with conditioner - this will seal the cuticle and help create a barrier between your strands and the chlorine. *some choose to forego this tip because fellow swimmers may end up wearing it and tasting it!
· Do not leave your hair out - one big braid or a bun will keep hair from becoming matted or tangled.
· Wear a swim cap – it may not be sexy and you can certainly skip it, however, the more barrier between your hair and the chlorine the better.
Post Swim:· Rinse with water then shampoo – there are several swimmers shampoos out there.
Try Ions Swimmer Shampoo (100% vegan and sulfate free) or Triswim Shampoo (paraben free)
· Condition as normal (deep condition if you feel it’s necessary)
How do you prep your hair prior to taking a dip?
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