Now that you understand what causes swimmer’s hair and how to prevent it in the future, let’s backtrack and give you some tips on how to cope if your hair is already showing signs of damage. Then we’ll take a look at what we’ll term “swimmer’s skin.” (Yeah, I’m pretty sure we just made that term up. But you get the idea.)
Swimmer’s Hair, Extra Care
Whether or not you made sure to wet your hair with fresh water before entering the pool, we highly recommend that you wash your hair immediately after taking a swim. This suggestion is absolutely imperative if you have color-treated, light-colored, or long hair; in that case, we also highly encourage you to use a chlorine-neutralizing shampoo — or at least one that’s sulfate free. That kind of product is helpful in counteracting the effects of chlorine. If you forget your shampoo, at least take 5 minutes to soak or rinse your hair in clean water, in order to remove chlorine from it.
Your daily routine can also help you avoid negative effects caused by chlorine. Adding apple cider vinegar to your rinse after washing your hair can help remove the kinds of buildup that cause dullness. Using a conditioner that offers deep moisturization can also keep your hair hydrated. And of course, use a wide-toothed comb to gently remove tangles and pat your hair gently with a towel and then allow it to air dry, rather than using a blow dryer, whenever possible.
Swimmer’s Skin, Cause & Care
Like your hair, your skin can suffer from regular exposure to chlorinated swimming pool water. Not only does chlorine strip away the natural oils of your skin, but it also destroys essential fatty acids as well as vitamin E, because of the formation of free radicals caused by oxidation. In general, that can lead to skin that feels itchy and/or tight. (You may find that your scalp, in particular, feels dry and itchy. Wearing a swim cap can help with that.)
Sometimes what we’re calling “swimmer’s skin” displays as a rash or leads to a flare up of existing skin issues, such as eczema. Repeated chlorine exposure can even lead to acne breakouts or skin that’s either generally dry and flaky or prematurely aging. Your nail beds and cuticles can also appear dry and cracked.
You can reduce the effects of chlorine on your skin and nails by applying lotion or oil before entering the water. After your swim, rinse in clean water and re-hydrate, right away. (Choose products that are all-natural and offer deep moisturizing.) In addition to these topical treatments, you can reduce the drying effects of chlorine by drinking plenty of good old H2O, both before and after your time in the pool.
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