What are the steps to properly protect my curls when washing natural hair after swimming? I swim a few times a week for fitness and I want to be sure I’m protecting my hair properly.
I’m an avid swimmer and was a fish out of water as a child. I could have been born a mermaid and I would have been fine. I was a lifeguard and taught swimming in college so I guess you could say I’ve been surrounded by water all of my life. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been swimming for so long and have learned how to properly take care of my hair and not repeat the same mistakes as I did before which lead to dry, brittle hair and breakage. since you love swimming as well, here are some tips for you to help keep your natural hair at its best level.
PRE-TREAT AND PROTECT YOUR HAIR IN THE SUN AT THE BEACH, LAKE OR POOL
Before you hit the water at the beach, lake or pool, condition your hair. You want to control the first thing that hits your hair before anything else does and this will make sure that your hair is protected from the elements reducing the risk of brittle and overly dry hair. You can saturate your hair with water and then run some oil through your hair or you could use a oil-based conditioner like Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner to protect your hair’s cuticles. Let the conditioner sit at least 30 minutes before you hit the water. You can also try a protective UV hair spray like Kerastase Soleil Huile C’lest which is a protective spray that limits the negative effects of sun, chlorine and salt water.
WASH YOUR HAIR SOON AFTER SWIMMING WITH THE RIGHT SHAMPOO
Salt water and chlorine causes your hair shaft to swell, dries hair out something terrible and can fade your natural hair or hair color you’ve invested in. If you’ve had ton of sun exposure whether at the lake, beach or pool, rinse your hair well and then apply your moisturizing and clarifying shampoo. which one should you use depends on where you just swam.
USE A CLARIFYING SWIMMER’S SHAMPOO FOR THE POOL
If you’re coming from an indoor or outdoor pool, wash your hair with a moisturizing, sulfate free swimmer’s shampoo. Swimmer’s shampoo is specially formulated to help prevent swimmer’s green (as in green tinted hair) which is caused by copper compounds reacting to the bromine and chlorine in pool water. Also keep in mind that chlorine is bleach, and bleach equals rot if you don’t clean your hair properly. Ion Swimmer’s Shampoo is a good sulfate free options as is their Ion Swimmer’s Clarifying Treatment, Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo, Kiehl’s All-Sport Everyday Shampoo and Bumble And Bumble Surf Foam Wash Shampoo. Check the ingredients of your current shampoos though. If you have a shampoo that’s formulated with Disodium EDTA, EDTA or Phytic Acid it’s strong enough to wash away chlorine and minerals but not all shampoos are so read your labels.
USE A MOISTURIZING CLARIFIER SHAMPOO FOR THE BEACH OR LAKE
If you’re coming from the beach or lake, wash your hair with a moisturizing, clarifying shampoo. you don’t necessarily need a swimmer’s shampoo when you swim in the natural elements, but you do need a clarifier to remove salt, traces of dirt and other microscopic things that now live in your hair and moisturizers like oils to help restore the moisture the sun has stripped away. Moisturizing, clarifying shampoos we like are Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo, Giovanni 50/50 Balanced Hydrating Clarifying Shampoo, Alba Botanica Clarifying Shampoo and EO Clarifying Sweet Orange Shampoo.
USE A GREAT LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER TO REPAIR
Once you’ve properly washed your hair clean of lake, beach or pool water, use your moisturizing wash out conditioner as normal and follow-up with a really great, moisturizing leave-in conditioner. Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioner, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque (which is also a leave-in), Neutrogena Triple Moisture Silk Touch Leave-In Cream, As I Am Leave-In Conditioner, Nexxus Luxe Ultimate Moisturizing Leave-In Spray, It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In, Beautiful Textures Tangle Taming Leave-in Conditioner, Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner and Kinky Curly Knot Today are all great options.
There is no need to deep condition after every swim unless you want to, but if you find yourself swimming more than three to five times week, you may want to deep condition two to three times a month. You should also avoid using a lot of heat on your natural hair if you swim and shampoo your hair a lot as doing so adds more stress on your hair. A swim cap is also optional if it’s uncomfortable or snags your hair. Swimming in snug but comfortable braids works well enough since swim caps are not waterproof anyway.