Why Chlorine Wreaks Havoc on Your Hair

I’m often asked, “how do I get the chlorine out of my hair?” With summer around the corner,  swim teams gearing up for their season and adults are jumping back into their swim exercise routine, too. While swimming is a wonderful form of exercise, chlorinated water can wreak havoc on a healthy head of hair.  Before you learn preventative tips for healthy summer hair, let’s review more about hair and chlorine.

First, it’s important to understand the composition of hair.  It’s made up of keratin, which is a fibrous protein that’s also water-soluble. The outer most layer of the hair is called the cuticle; I tend to explain it like shingles on a roof that lay in a downward pattern; in the case of hair, this pattern is from root to end.

So, what exactly is chlorine? Chlorine is a chemical that is used in swimming pools as a disinfectant and bleaching agent. Chlorine reacts very quickly with organic and non-organic materials; because of these properties, chemical activity has a tremendous effect on the hair. In other words, chlorine affects the hair by a chemical reaction by changing the physical properties of the hair.

To answer the above question, “how do I get chlorine out of my hair?” the answer is you don’t.  By the time you are feeling dry and chlorinated hair, the chemical reaction has already taken place.  Hair can be cleansed and hydrated, which will help, but the real answer is prevention.

Soak Up These Three Tips!

The best way to get chlorine out of the hair is to prevent it from entering the hair in the first place. I always suggest prepping the hair before entering the swimming pool. Just think of the hair as a sponge. If you jump into the pool with dry hair, the hair will suck up the chlorinated water, causing the chemical reaction.  Hair doesn’t stand a chance to stay healthy. Here are three simple, preventative steps to take before jumping in the pool:

Cold Water Rinse: I recommend hair always be rinsed in cold, clean water.  Fully saturate the hair

Condition After Rinse: After the hair is completely wet, apply conditioner. I like Color Radiance Daily Conditioner because of the organic rice and soy proteins; these ingredients add extra hydration for the hair. (You can also use our Pure Inspiration or Hydrating Cream Conditioner, too!) Make sure to comb through.  Do not rinse the conditioner out.

Apply Swim Cap: At this point you can put on a swim cap, which is the best protection, but if you don’t put it on, at least you hair is fully saturated with clean water and conditioner.  Your sponge is full!  Now when you jump into the chlorinated pool, your hair will no longer be able to suck up more water.  Your hair is protected!

A Few More Tips

It is common to hear mom’s complain about young children not being agreeable to rinse their hair before they swim. I suggest they keep a water bottle handy along with a spray style leave-in conditioner like Sweet Spirit Leave In Conditioner. Spray the hair with clean water, and spritz Sweet Spirit right on top.  Comb through to ensure the leave-in conditioner is equally distributed throughout the hair.

Summer is also the time to rock protective styles! When you’ve finished swimming for the day, give hair a good rinse with fresh water, spray with Sweet Spirit or apply a styler of your choice throughout hair (I Love Inner Peace for this!), and wrap hair in a bun or braids. Then go about your day as your hair soaks up the love and remains protected and hydrated.

Are you ready for summer? With hair fully protected, you can feel confident to jump in the pool and start the swim season, while also preventing chlorine damaged hair. Go, team! ~ Joanne, cofounder,  Innersense Organic Beauty and Stylist

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