The Effects of Pool Chemicals on Your Curls

The Effects of Pool Chemicals on Your Curls

Posted by Curl Warehouse on

It's heating up out there and many of us find ourselves looking forward to an afternoon at the pool. In this blog post, we will explore the effects of chlorine on your curls and provide you with tips to protect and care for your hair before, during, and after swimming. 

What is Chlorine and What Does It Do To Your Hair?

Chlorine is commonly used in swimming pools to kill bacteria and keep the water clean. It's a pretty powerful chemical, great for keeping pools hygienic and safe for use, but it also strips your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Additionally, it can lead to unwanted frizz and dull curls, especially if you swim a lot.

Why Does Chlorine Make My Hair Green?

If you're blonde, silver, or have golden highlights, keep reading. Chlorine can cause lighter hair shades to develop an unwanted greenish tint. This is especially common in blondes (natural or artificial). The combination of chlorine and copper compounds found in some pool water can create a chemical reaction that results in this green tinge. To prevent this discoloration, it is especially essential for blondes to take the precautions listed below.

woman with curly hair in pool

Pre-Swim Curl Protection

Before diving into the pool, take these precautionary steps to minimize the impact of pool chemicals on your curly hair:

  1. Pre-Wet Your Hair: Start by saturating your hair with clean, fresh water before entering the pool. Your hair swells when water is added to it, so best to make that water clean and chlorine-free so there's less space for chlorinated water to penetrate. 

  2. Apply a Protective Barrier: Coat your curls with a layer of hair oil, leave-in conditioner, or a hair serum. These products act as a protective layer and help to repel chlorine. Silicones are an excellent barrier against chlorine, so even if you don't regularly use them in your routine, you may want to try something like the VERB Ghost Oil or AG Hair Fast Food Leave-on Conditioner for days that you're swimming.

  3. Wear a Swim Cap: Look for options made from materials such as silicone or lycra, as they are likely the best for chlorine resistance and they'll minimize water absorption. We recommend the Swim Turban from YGN.

Post-Swim Curl Care

Once you've finished swimming, it's crucial to cleanse your hair to remove any lingering chlorine residue. Be sure to:

  1. Rinse Thoroughly: Immediately after leaving the pool, rinse your hair with fresh water to remove chlorine and pool chemicals. Focus on thoroughly saturating your curls to flush out any remaining pool water. This may take some time if you have low-porosity hair, but it's worth it, especially if you won't have time to shampoo and condition your hair for a few hours.

  2. Use a Clarifying Shampoo: Incorporate a clarifying shampoo into your routine once a week to remove stubborn chlorine buildup. Look for sulfate-free options that are gentle on your curls while effectively eliminating chlorine and other minerals. Our favourite is Malibu C's Swimmers Wellness Shampoo, designed especially for this purpose. It will remove product build-up as well. If you are swimming regularly, you may need to use this more often than you would if you weren't swimming in chlorinated pools. Concerned about taking up valuable suitcase space with a specialty shampoo? Try the Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Treatment packet instead.

  3. Deep Condition: Treat your hair to a nourishing deep conditioning treatment once or twice a week, preferably after you clarify. This replenishes lost moisture, combating the drying effects of chlorine. Try the Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment or the Soothe & Restore Ultra Moisturizing Deep Conditioner from TreLuxe.


woman with curly hair in swimming pool

Extra Tips for Healthy Summer Curls:

  • Minimize exposure to chlorine by limiting the time your hair spends in the pool - not you, you should embrace your inner mermaid for as long as you want - or take breaks to rinse your hair with fresh water every so often, especially if you are blonde. Putting your hair in a bun on top of your head, for example, can keep the ends out of the water.

  • Consider investing in a water-resistant hair protectant specifically formulated for swimmers if you swim regularly. These products create a physical barrier against chlorine and other pool chemicals. Can't find one for swimmers or only occasionally diving in? A heat-protectant that protects against UV rays is a good idea for outdoor pool time as well, such as Miracle Shield Heat Protection Spray from Curlsmith.

    curlsmith miracle shield

Implementing these tips will help keep your curls moisturized, clean, and green-tinge-free. If you only swim occasionally, picking and choosing a few things from the list above will at least help prevent that post-swim dry-hair feeling.

For more ideas on caring for your curls, check out our blog on Summer Curl Care Tips.

Dive in and enjoy the summer!

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