How To Protect Hair From Chlorine: A Guide

What Is Chlorine, and Why Is It Used in Pools?

Do you go to the pool frequently during the summer? If this is the case, you may find that your skin becomes quite dry after a few hours in the pool. Your eyes may become red and inflamed if you stay too long. What causes this to happen? It's because the pool is likely to include chemicals that keep the water clean and free of bacteria.

Chlorine is a chemical found in most swimming pools. However, it’s interesting to note that chlorine is actually a gas, not a liquid as most would assume.

Chlorine is one of the most widely used chemicals on the planet. Pure chlorine is quite uncommon, and when used in the pool water it is heavily diluted. It is relatively harmless when combined with other elements.

Do you ever season your food with salt? If so, you’re consuming chlorine. Sodium chloride is made by combining chlorine with sodium. The scientific name for common table salt is sodium chloride.

Many goods have chlorine as an ingredient. Swimming pools utilize chlorine because of its antibacterial and disinfectant powers. Chlorine destroys microorganisms in pool water and maintains its cleanliness.

How Does Chlorine Affect Your Hair?

Chlorinated water can cause breakage by making your hair dry and weak. While typical tap water does include trace amounts of chlorine, it usually does not have enough to cause an issue while taking a shower or doing regular bathing washing. However, more regular exposure to the greater amount present in pools might harm your hair and skin.

People with fair hair are typically more cognizant of the potential damage that can be caused by chlorine in pools. This is because the effects are more readily obvious: Chlorinated pool water can actually turn blonde hair a greenish color! Chlorine depletes your body's natural oils (sebum) that protect your hair, so it is something that people with all hair types and colors need to be aware of.

Unfortunately, chlorine is necessary to fight microorganisms, but it can do major harm to your healthy hair if you swim in a pool frequently. Going in a pool in your new suit a couple of times in the summer won’t be a problem, but if you are a regular pool swimmer, you may start to notice some of the following things happening to your hair:

  1. It can split and crack, especially at the ends.
  2. Hair may become dry and brittle.
  3. The color of your hair may be affected. The aforementioned blondes have the most to worry about, but those with color-treated hair may also experience some issues.
  4. Weakness, resulting in split ends and flyaways or “baby hairs.”

Our Top Tips for Hair Protection

There are some precautions you can take to minimize the damage that can be caused by chlorinated pool water. Here are some tips that will keep your hair looking great all summer long.

Shower Before Diving In

There are many reasons why it is important to shower before getting into the pool, but one of them is hair protection. If you thoroughly wet your hair before going into the pool, it will slow chlorine’s absorption.

Hair is like a sponge: if it is already wet, it just won’t absorb as much water. The less pool water your hair absorbs, the less likely it is to be damaged.

Wear a Bathing Cap

Some pools actually require this, but even if your pool doesn’t, it’s a good idea to wear a bathing cap anyway. You might feel a little silly wearing one in your own pool, but trust us: it will do wonders when it comes to protecting your hair!

When you do get out of the water and take your bathing cap off, it’s also recommended that you rinse your hair right away. Letting chlorine sit on your hair, especially letting it dry on your hair, can cause significantly more damage than if it is rinsed immediately.

Use Protective Hair Products

Many of the styling products that are designed for frizzy or unmanageable hair work well to protect against the damage chlorine can do to your precious locks. In the same way that styling products can help protect your hair from heat and humidity, they can also guard against chlorine.

Oil or silicone-based products tend to work the best for this. For a more natural approach, you can also try coconut oil. A benefit of coconut oil is that it can also serve to soften and moisturize the hair in addition to protecting it.

Consider a Special Shampoo

There are some shampoos that are specifically made for swimmers or those who spend a lot of time in the pool. It may be beneficial to try out one of these ultra clarifying shampoos.

These can help with hair discoloration that occurs from chlorine.

Try a Natural Hair Remedy: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar acts as an all-natural clarifier for the hair. If you don’t mind smelling a little bit like a salad for a few minutes while it sits on your hair, you can achieve moisture and shine with this hair hack.

All you have to do is combine one part ACV with four parts water, and pour it over freshly washed hair. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse. This will help to get any remaining chlorine out of the hair that the shampoo might have missed.

Apply a Conditioning Hair Mask Post-Swim

Most of us know about applying face masks as part of a beauty routine, but did you know that you can do the same thing for your hair?

Conditioning masks are great for your hair under any circumstances, but those who spend a lot of their time in chlorinated water can especially benefit from them. It’s best to use a conditioning mask in place of your regular conditioner.

Typically, you put the mask on right after shampooing, and then leave it on for several minutes before rinsing. Take a little time for yourself and make your hair soft and shiny.


Swimming in a chemically treated pool doesn’t have to mean that you are doomed to damaged hair. You can take precautions like showering before swimming, using anti-frizz or heat-protecting products in your hair and wearing a bathing cap.

Post-swim, you can rinse chlorine from your hair immediately, and give it a little extra love with some apple cider vinegar or a rich hair mask. Then you can throw on your favorite cover-up and relax. Whatever you do, don’t give up the pool out of fear for your hair. Keep swimming those laps and doing your water aerobics!



What Does Chlorine Really Do to Your Body? | Live Science

How to Keep Chlorine From Wrecking Your Hair, Skin, and Swimsuit | Health

6 Ways to Revive Damaged Hair Post-Swim | Shape Magazine