Dry Hair Treatment for Swimmers

by Celeigh O'Neil ; Updated July 18, 2017

Swimming can be especially harmful to hair that is color treated or already damaged.

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

A day at the beach or an hour swimming laps at the indoor pool can leave you relaxed and feeling good, but the same can't be said for your hair. Both saltwater and chlorine strip hair, leaving it dried out, less manageable and sometimes damaged. After your swim, use some daily care and treatments to transform a head of straw back into gold without giving up the butterfly stroke.

Treat Before Swimming

Preparing your hair before you swim helps prevent damage. Soak your hair in tap water from root to tip. Hair cannot absorb as much chlorine or salt when it's already wet. Pour a quarter-sized amount of silicone-based serum into the palm of your hand, and work it through your hair from root to tip. This will lock in moisture and act as a barrier. Pull on a swim cap to completely protect your hair. If caps pull at the roots of your hair and cause fallout, tie your hair up in a bun instead.

Shampoo and Condition

Cleanse your hair as soon as you're done swimming to remove drying substances. Wet your hair with tap water and massage a cream chlorine removal shampoo into the roots with your fingertips. Allow the shampoo to drip down through the ends as it rinses instead of scrubbing them. Scrubbing the ends will dry them out, and the shampoo will still clean as it rinses. Cream shampoos are more moisturizing than clear formulas. Coat the ends of your hair with conditioner and allow it to sink in for three minutes before rinsing completely to lock in moisture. Skip the wash on days you don't swim to give your hair a break.

Deep Condition Periodically

Swimmers should deep condition their hair twice a week to seal in moisture and repair damage. Wet your hair, and coat it from root to tip with an oil based deep conditioner. Oils penetrate the hair cuticle to repair it from the inside out. You can also use pure olive oil or coconut oil. After applying the conditioner, pull a plastic shower cap over your hair and leave it on overnight. Rinse the deep conditioner out in the morning, and follow up with your usual shampoo and conditioner routine.

Use Moisturizing Products

Swimmers should use moisturizing styling products daily to condition hair. After washing your hair, gently squeeze the ends dry with a microfiber towel, which is less abrasive than a regular towel. Pour a dime-sized amount of hair oil, such as argan oil, into the palm of your hand, and gently pull it through the bottom 2 inches of your hair. Comb your hair from root to tip with a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute the product and remove knots. Allow your hair to air dry to prevent heat damage. Use a natural-bristle brush to brush your hair while dry and distribute hair's natural oils without causing breakage. Reapply the hair oil as necessary to add shine and tame flyways. Avoid products that contain alcohol, because they will dry out the follicles.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Celeigh O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, as well as degrees in fashion illustration/design, digital arts and certification in hair and makeup artistry. O'Neil was a frequent contributor to Toronto's "Dialog" newspaper and has worked as an instructional writer, creating lessons in fashion, art and English for students of all ages.