Note for the pool swimmers:
Chlorine breaks down the color molecules in your hair, which causes fading and dryness. Anything soluble (not in a permanent state) will be destroyed by the pool chemicals. It’ll also leave residue on your hair overtime, resulting in discoloration because the pores absorb it deep into the strands.
– Melissa, Robert Jason Salon
Note for the ocean dwellers:
As the sea has high salt content, it is osmotic, meaning that it leaches water out of your hair. The result? Dry, parched and brittle locks. – Elizabeth Phillips, Trichologist at Phillips Kingsley.
[ 1 ] Coconut oil: yesssss. The jill-of-all trades. Among it’s other health benefits, coconut oil works wonders on your hair. At least an hour before your swim (or the morning of) apply a fair amount of Coconut Oil to your dry tresses. Coconut Oil has the lowest molecular size, which means it penetrates deep into the hair rather than just coating the strands. It’ll act as a barrier between the harsh salt water or pool chemicals and your hair.
Interesting Fact: Women in South East Asia are known for their long, luxurious locks of hair. What’s their secret? They lather their hair in coconut oil before they wash it. Why? It prevents protein loss and improves the overall health of your strands. I haven’t tried this yet, as the luxury of pre-shower prep has been hard to come by these days, but it’s on my list and I’ll be sure to report back.
Want to understand the science of how oils penetrate the hair shaft to help maintain & promote good health?
When you wash your hair, water molecules may penetrate and make the hair strand expand or swell up. However, the outer layer of the hair strand, known as the cuticle cannot expand like the inside, so it ends up curling and bending outward, forming an uneven and scaly kind of texture, as opposed to being smooth and shiny. If you apply oils that penetrate the hair shaft on your scalp and locks before washing, it prevents all of this by making the proteins found in hair more hydrophobic, which means water repelling – hence water is not able to easily penetrate the hair and cause damage the outer cuticle when it swells up.
– Beauty Munsta
… Did you get all that?
[ 2 ] If you’re staying close to home: simply wet your hair before you leave. It’s pretty straight forward science: if the pores of your strands are filled with H20, there’s not much room for the chlorine or salt water to join the party.
[ 3 ] Double D’s: deep condition + double knots. This one is a win-win solution to protecting your locks while hydrating dry hair and secretly prepping a style for your evening plans. Instructions: Wet your hair. Apply your favorite deep conditioning treatment. Twist and tame into two double knots with a middle part. You know your hair best – if you don’t like the double knot look or the way your hair presents afterwards then opt for the single bun. If you have fine hair, try to avoid elastics and grab a few bobby pins. Understandably, those of you with long thick tresses need the strength of an elastic, so find a gentler option if possible, like these snag-free hair ties or these damage-free polybands I use for my little girls, and myself!
Find your inner Spice Girl for the double-knots. They might not look pretty, but the final result is usually worth it.
TIP: If you go head-under-water during a day at the beach or lounging in the pool, give your hair some R+R so it can air dry while in the knot(s). Otherwise you’ll get the wet dog look rather than the sexy beach waves. You can speed up this process using a hair dryer on cold setting (recommended), or the lowest heat setting. Let sit for a few mins. Then un-do your tresses and shake them out. Once they settle for 10-15 mins you can play around with different styles. Don’t hesitate to use dry-shampoo or any other products necessary to get the look of choice, especially if it appears greasy from the leave in conditioner. I find myself continually favoring the side-part hair flip; a quick easy style to show off the beach waves and hide the ‘middle part’ which always tends to look greasy… even though it’s just my roots that need TLC – aka – bleach.
[ 4 ] Quick rinse: Simply put, soon after getting your hair wet in the pool or ocean, rinse it with a water bottle or any clean water you have access to. Technically, the damage is done if your hair wasn’t protected, but you’re definitely helping the situation so that the salt + chlorine aren’t sitting on it for a long period of time. I’ve used this method before with a water bottle and noticed the difference in my hair texture as it dried. It wasn’t sticky or dried out, it felt smoother and happier.
Whether your hair is thick or fine, or dry and damaged, it’s a good idea for the overall health of your tresses to protect them from chemicals and harsh salts. Try some of these methods this spring + summer and let me know how they work for you, in the comments below!