Protect Your Hair Color Before You Jump In the Water

Sable Yong
Getty / Trinette Reed

Getty / Trinette Reed

One of the best things about warmer weather: swimming outdoors. We don’t know about you guys, but the sight of a pool, the ocean or even a lake inspires many swan dives and cannonballs in us. But our hair? That’s another story. Chlorine, salt and sun can really do a number on our lovely locks—stripping the color, drying it out and leaving it knotted and snarly. Unless you’re cool with plunking a rubber swimming cap on your head anytime you head to the water, try these tips to protect your hair (and its color) from the ravages of summer.

MORE: The Cause Behind Your Brassy Hair

Hair needs sunscreen too. Despite being made of dead cells, hair does require UV protection, especially if you’re trying to preserve its color. The sun’s UV rays, combined with the heat, can actually make your hair color process further, turning it brassy. Yuck.

Rather than slathering your hair in sunscreen, there are sprayable leave-in conditioners and styling sprays that have UV protection built in—and good news, your thermal protection spray may already have sun protection in it. Generously coat your hair with this stuff before laying out on the beach or by the pool, and rejoice in your sun-proof color!

Fill up before you go. Hair soaks up whatever you put on it, especially porous hair that’s been bleached. If you fill it with good things or neutral things (like plain water) before going swimming, there won’t be any more room for it to absorb drying chlorine or salt water. Simply put a mixture of your regular hair conditioner (or hair oil) and water in a spray bottle to take with you to the beach or the pool and spray liberally before taking a dip. Or you can just saturate your hair in the outdoor shower before swimming.

Wash it out. Rather than shampooing before swimming (which makes no sense), it does help to wash your hair with a bit of clarifying shampoo directly after swimming in a pool. The chlorine and other drying chemicals lingering in your hair will do more damage if left in, so removing it throughly will prevent that damage altogether.

Quench those beach waves. Love the textured waves you get after swimming in the ocean? Get that look while also conditioning your hair. Bring a hair mask or a leave-in conditioner with you to the beach, and as you get out of the ocean, rub some in your hair. When it air-dries it’ll still have that perfect beach-wave look, but it will also secretly be conditioned. Smart AND pretty!

MORE: The Best Pool And Beach Essentials For Your Hair In The Summer

Tame your mane. Hair is at its weakest when it’s wet. Normally when you wash your hair, you generally dry and groom it in a particular matter. After swimming though, you may just lay out on a towel or whip it around with waterpark abandon. Post-swim hair can get grimy and is nearly impossible to detangle once dried—leading to breakage and shedding as you attempt to brush it out afterwards. Ouch.

Avoid this by keeping a wide-tooth comb and leave-in conditioner in your beach bag. Just work the conditioner through your hair after swimming, then gently detangle with the comb (starting at the ends and working up towards your scalp). Braiding or bunning your hair is also a good protective move.