With summer coming, I knew I had to talk about one of the season’s biggest beauty issues: chlorine and its effect on your skin and hair! Esthetician Alana Mitchell gives us the deets on what to look for while you’re enjoying some fun-in-the-sun pool time below and make sure to also check out some of my favorite UV protection and deep conditioners at the bottom of the post! :)
Whether you’re a dedicated swimmer year-round or a regular pool-dweller in the summer, you’re most likely going to be exposed to chlorine big time. Chlorine is great for disinfecting pools to kill harmful bacteria and prevent us from getting sick, but it also has a harsh effect on our skin and hair. It can strip our bodies of the natural oils we need to protect us from daily environmental damage and typical wear and tear. Swimming is an activity that is incredibly healthy for exercise and just overall life enjoyment, so in addition to explaining what damage chlorine can do, we’ve come up with some solutions to combat the effects of chlorine on your skin and hair.
This occurs in both your skin and hair with prolonged chlorine exposure. When your locks become wet with chlorinated water, the root of each hair strand absorbs the chlorine. This strips your hair of natural oils and lubricants, so if you swim frequently your hair needs extra protection. Excessively dry hair due to chlorine can cause your hair cuticles to crack, leading to pesky split ends and hair breakage. You can reduce the effects of chlorine on your hair by wetting it with clean water prior to swimming in chlorine. You can also coat your hair with a conditioner or serum first to help protect those strands. Using a swim cap offers some protection, but it’s best to wash your hair immediately after swimming in a chlorinated pool.
Much like your hair, chlorine strips your skin of natural oils as well. The chemicals can be incredibly drying for your skin, so you’ll want to take extra care of your skin post-swim. Rinsing the chemicals from your body and moisturizing after will help neutralize the effects of the chlorine on your skin. If you’re spending a lot of time at the pool, it’s a good idea to use a moisture boost to help replenish your skin and soothe it after being exposed to chlorine.
That Chlorine Green Though
This probably comes as no surprise to those of us who spent lots of time in the pool as kids, before saltwater alternatives were really an option to replace chlorine in backyard pools. A lot of us ended up with hair that took on a greenish hue, especially those of us with blonde or light hair. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t necessarily caused by the chlorine itself, but by the chlorine’s interaction with copper pipes and other metals. (Weird, we know.) Chlorine causes small amounts of copper to enter water, and therefore your hair – causing it to develop that green tint. As interesting as this science experiment may be, we don’t really want our hair to turn green this way. Luckily there are lots of shampoos on the market designed for swimmers for this very purpose. Protecting your hair prior to swimming can help prevent any green in your lovely locks.
Though chlorine can dry out the skin, this isn’t necessarily a good “cure” for acne (a common myth). Initially, with minimal exposure, those who suffer from acne may see an improvement after swimming in chlorine. But repeated exposure to chlorinated water can causes excessive dryness, and therefore can certainly aggravate existing acne. If your skin becomes too dry, oil production is then kicked into overdrive. And as we all know, excess oil can clog pores and therefore cause more acne. If you suffer from acne or break outs, just be sure to be kind to your skin and moisturize after swimming.
If your hair is exposed to chlorine, it can lose shine over time and become matted. Higher concentrations of chlorine means the exterior structure of your hair strands becomes nearly transparent, which means the cuticles of your hair lose the protection it needs to stay strong, full of protein, and shiny. Our hair is like a sponge, and that sponge absorbs everything – good and bad. Load up your hair with clean water and hydrating oils to help minimize the space for chlorine to fill.
Natural Remedies For Chlorine
Believe it or not, you probably already have these remedies in your pantry or kitchen, Apple cider vinegar acts as a natural clarifier, and is perfectly safe and effective to use in freshly washed hair. Just pour it through your hair and rinse it well. Using coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil in combination with cocoa or shea butter can serve as a natural, thick body butter that soaks into your skin and truly soothes it from the effects of chlorine after swimming.
My favorite UV protectors:
My Favorite deep conditioners: