I get asked this question all the time, how do you keep your hair healthy when you’re in the pool all the time?
I have fine blonde hair, but I have a ton of it, and it has taken some trial and error to find the right products for me. My hair has varied from length nearing my low back, died brown (me at 16 trying to express myself), and even going to a pixie cut. I didn’t highlight my hair till early in my 30s, and to be honest, I didn’t style it very often. I rarely blow dried it, and if I did it was on rare occasions when I was getting ‘dressed up’ in which it got blow dried and straightened.
Lots of swimmers I see have hair that’s super dry and breaking. I remember thinking some peoples hair resembled that of a shedding dog…. Or the lucky blonde swimmers whose hair turned an odd shade of green. I will list below my solutions I found to common swimmer hair problems!!
Blonde hair turning green in the pool is often due to pool chemical imbalances. It’s challenging to keep the chemicals just right when tons of kids are going in and out of it, varieties of sunscreens, and let’s be honest, pee. This tends to result in blonde hair turning green. It also happens when you are in and out of a variety of different pools.
What worked best for me was Aveda Hair Detoxifer which I used once a week. It’s unfortunately not available any more, but they now have the Sun Care Hair which also strips chlorine. I’d look for a product that removes buildup in your hair and use that once a week.
Product: Aveda Sun Care Hair
Being in and out of the water constantly can leave your hair and scalp feeling very dry. I’ve read many hair care articles that talk about wetting your hair before you get in the pool, or even wetting your hair and putting in conditioner. Truth is, I DID NOT want to get wet before getting into the pool! Personal issue, maybe, but the idea of getting wet and then walking out onto a cold pool deck to jump into even colder water…. I just couldn’t do it routinely.
Now, it is easier to keep pool chemicals balanced if participants shower before getting in, and I know it’s better for your hair, so maybe we can adapt. Many pools now have showers on the pool deck making it easier to rinse and then jump in. I was much more likely to stand in a hot shower right near the pool, soaking my hair and rinsing my body, putting on my swim cap in the warm water, and then running into the pool. However, most of the time, my hair was dry when I entered the pool.
My solutions came after my swim was done. I started investing in good quality shampoo & conditioner and it made a HUGE difference. Now, I swear by Biologe products. My teammates have successfuly used an array of good quality brands, this one just worked for me. Specifically, I used Biolage Ultra Hydrasource Shampoo for Very Dry Hair and the matching conditioner Hydrasource Conditioning Balm for Dry Hair. I’d then wrap my hair up in a towel while putting on body lotion and getting dressed. With my hair damp, I would put in a small amount of leave in conditioner. I used either Biolage Hydrasource leave-in tonic or Paul Mitchel original The Conditioner Leave-in Moisturizer. And to top it all off, I would put a hair oil on the ends of my hair. This helped especially when my hair was super long! My favorite hair oil is Moroccanoil Treatment Light or simply using Essential Jobobo Oil.
Shampoo & Conditioner: Ultra Hydrasource Shampoo for Very Dry Hair & Hydrasource Conditioning Balm for Dry Hair
Leave-in Conditioner: Biolage Hydrasource leave-in tonic or Paul Mitchel original The Conditioner Leave-in Moisturizer
Hair Oil: Moroccanoil Treatment Light & Essential Jobobo Oil.
I mentioned above that I didn’t style my hair very much and this also helped it stay healthy. I Often put it all my different conditioners and then did a simple braid or wrapped it up in a messy bun. When I was styling my hair my routine was the same as I listed above. Wash with high quality products, leave-in conditioner, and end with hair oils throughout the length of my hair focusing on the ends (not my scalp).
Before bed I would put on even more hair oil and then braid my hair.
When I was growing my hair out long I did not get it trimmed very often. I remember stylist saying that I needed to trim off the dead hair, usually about an inch. But it seemed through all my swimming the last inch would always stay a bit dry (or dead as they claimed). So if I got it trimmed regularly, my hair would never grow out long. I took good care of it, as much as an elite swimmer could, and simply let it grow.
- Blow dry and style as little as you can
- More hair oils before bed
- If you have long hair, braid before going to bed
- If growing your hair, go longer durations between trimmings
Try out different products and see what works for you! This includes knowing what products or routines makes your cap fall off!! While you’re trying out different products keep some latex caps handy as they stay on better than silicone caps if you have product in your hair. When racing, I always wore a latex cap underneath a silicone cap.
Hydration and nutrition will also effect the quality of your hair! Stay hydrated, eat well balanced meals, and don’t forget the healthy fats!