Oh, our poor hair. Not only can summertime humidity and sun do a number on our strands, the very thing we use to cool off -- swimming-- can make it even worse. Beside doggie-paddling with our heads above water like our mothers did, what's a pool-loving, hair-styling girl to do?
Chlorine is not a mineral but an oxidizer. Chlorine is put into drinking water and swimming pools to kill bacteria. In addition to the following effects chlorine has on hair, due to it's oxidizing effects, chlorine also oxidizes minerals onto the hair causing even worse damage.
How chlorine effects hair:
- Active chlorine in the hair can cause hair to feel gummy when wet and straw-like when dry.
- Chlorine can damage the cuticle and proteins of the hair.
- As an oxidizer, chlorine can cause the air and sun to oxidize hair and worsen the hair’s condition.
- Chlorine can cause hair to feel dry.
- Chlorine can cause hair to become brittle.
- Chlorine can cause hair to lack shine.
Oxidized metals (think of copper turning metal green) in the water bind to the protein in the hair shaft and deposit their color therefore turning blonde hair a green tint. Blondes are more prone to the color changing since their hair is more over-processed and takes to color faster.
But lighter-haired gals aren't the only ones who need to watch out. Chlorine may not affect the hue of brunettes, redheads and gray hair as much, but it still dries out your strands.
Wetting your hair with fresh water before you swim will keep it from soaking up too much chlorine water. Always remember to rinse your hair well after swimming. You may have to bring a bottle of fresh water with you to the pool for just this reason. To further protect your hair, wet your hair and apply a conditioner before you go swimming. The conditioner seals the cuticle of the hair, preventing the chlorine from penetrating.
In between swims, opt for a shampoo that's formulated to detoxify your hair of chlorine, removing any oxidized metals that may be left in the hair. Try Calista Tools Exfoliation Shampoo, which removes chemicals such as chlorine from your hair. You should also periodically use a deep conditioner such as our Shine Remedy Treatment to counteract any damage from your summertime fun.
The other thing women should do -- and no, it's not a fashion faux pas -- is wear a swim cap to protect your color.
If you're looking for a more natural method to rid your hair of harsh chlorine and chemicals, authors Lauren and Janice Cox have an environmentally-friendly baking soda treatment from their book, "EcoBeauty -- Scrubs, Rubs, Masks, and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends," that will help refresh and restore your hair:
1 /4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon mild shampoo or liquid soap
Stir all of the ingredients together until well mixed. To use, wet your hair, apply the entire mixture, then massage it into your hair and scalp, making sure the ends of your hair are coated. Put on a shower cap or cover your hair with plastic wrap and leave the treatment on for 30 minutes. Then rinse your hair well and shampoo and condition as usual.
There are several home remedies you can use to repair chlorine-damaged hair. Rinsing with club soda after swimming is said to help stop the chlorine from damaging hair. Rinsing with tomato juice, lemon juice, aspirin (dissolved in water), and baking soda is said to help get rid of the green tint left by chlorine.