Swimming offers a host of physical and mental health benefits, but pool water is unfortunately not particularly therapeutic for your skin and hair. Frequent exposure to chlorine and other chemicals in the water can lead to dry, irritated skin and brittle, discoloured hair. Here are a few simple steps that can help:
1. Take a shower before getting in the pool. Most pools require this anyway, but don’t just duck in and out in a couple of seconds; make sure you get good and wet. If your skin cells and hair shafts are fully hydrated before you enter the pool, they’ll absorb less chlorine.
2. Pamper your hair. Treat your hair with coconut oil before you get in the pool (you can do this in your pre-swim shower). This helps seal out the chlorine, which can turn blond or coloured hair green when it oxidizes, and moisturizes as well.
3. Wear a silicone swim cap (take a look here). While there’s no such thing as a completely waterproof swim cap, a silicone cap, as opposed to one in neoprene or Lycra, will keep your hair relatively dry if you get one that’s the right size and fits your head perfectly. This will minimize chlorine damage.
4. Stay hydrated. Keep your skin cells hydrated from within by taking a bottle of water poolside and drinking regularly during your swim as well as before and after your workout.
5. Use chlorine-neutralizing soap and shampoo. After your swim, shower thoroughly (take at least several minutes) to rinse away the chlorine. There are a wide variety of chlorine-neutralizing soap and shampoo products formulated specifically for swimmers, so try a few and find one that works for you. Finish with conditioner.
6. Moisturize. Slather on the moisturizing lotion, preferably something with antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, after showering.
You may need to experiment with several different products, especially if you have sensitive skin, but if you make these steps part of your swim routine you should be able to maintain healthy, happy skin and hair no matter how often you hit the pool.
Do you have any other hair or skin care tips for swimmers?