This Is How You Combat Salt Water and Chlorine

Janell M. Hickman
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A lazy day at the pool or the beach sounds like a dream—until you start to consider all the damage a dip in the water can do to your delicate strands. It’s no surprise that drying chlorine or salt water can do a number on your hair, especially if you’ve dabbled in color or chemical treatments. But have no fear, you won’t be banished to spend the entire summer indoors, as a few experts shared their tips so you can get wet (and perhaps wild) without worry this summer. Just don’t forget to apply SPF!

Saturate Before You Swim
“Dry hair is like a sponge,” explains Toni&Guy US celebrity stylist, Christian Wood. “But when hair is wet, further absorption of chlorine or salt water is interrupted.”

Skip the Swim Cap
“When not used for competitive swim, swim caps are simply used to protect hair from chlorine and/or the sun,” shares Katie Newgard of Keracolor. “Before entering the pool, simply mist hair with Keracolor’s Purify Plus spray until your hair is saturated. The Krystal Water Complex featured in each of our products actually neutralizes chlorine and closes the cuticle, which means you’re doubling up on protection.”

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Try to Wash Your Hair Post-Swim
“If you have only had minimal exposure to salt and chlorine and you’re in a hurry, it’s fine,” shares Motions celebrity stylist, Ursula Stephen. “But if there is excessive swimming in salt or chlorine, then you must shampoo and condition immediately after, otherwise your hair might become very dry and brittle.”

Swap Out Your Shampoo
“Clarifying shampoo helps to remove excess product build-up, chlorine, etc., and provide a deep clean,” explains Wood.  “I recommend using a clarifying shampoo once a week with a hair masque after.”

Chlorine Kills Color
“While salt-water can be drying on the hair, chlorine is especially hard on color-treated hair because chlorine is an oxidizing chemical, just like a household bleach,” says Newgard. “What happens when you spill bleach on a colored shirt? It fades! Chlorine found in pools or the very tap water that you wash your hair with is simply washing your expensive color down the drain, along with the health of your hair. It’s the number one reason why hair color fades or becomes dull so quickly.”

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Revive Your Strands Post-Swim
“Look for a shampoo and conditioner containing moisturizing ingredients such as oils and vitamin E,” explains Stephen. “The Motions Active Moisture Wash & Care Line would be great for post-swim revival, and they have a Leave-In Detangler which is a savior for stressed tresses.”

Yes, You Can DIY Color-Correct
“It sounds crazy, but ketchup is a great natural recipe to remove the slight green tinge that can occur on colored hair after swimming in a pool,” explains Wood. “The natural vinegar helps clean the hair and neutralize the chlorine.”

Beware of  Other “Hidden” Elements
“Natural elements such as salt, sea, and wind can be damaging to hair by drying out strands or leaving them unruly,” explains Newgard. “But what we should mostly be worried about is the chlorine and trace minerals (copper, iron, magnesium, silica, calcium, etc.) found in the tap water that we wash our hair with. These are the real damaging elements that steal our color, shine, and damage our hair.”