Summer Activities: Chlorine, Swimming, Sun, and Their Affect on Your Hair

Jun 07 , 2019

Summer Activities: Chlorine, Swimming, Sun, and Their Affect on Your Hair

With the summer holiday kicking off in a matter of days, most of us have undoubtedly rounded up plans to spend time at the pool, lake, or ocean. Each of these presents the opportunity to have a little fun and socialize with your loved ones-- but have you considered the damage that chlorine, sun, and even the water in lakes and oceans is doing to your hair?

The elements definitely take their toll on our locks when summer rolls around; fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take to keep your mane tamed and healthy regardless of how you're choosing to spend your free time this summer. Read on to find out more about how factors like chlorine and the sun damage our hair and what you can do about it. 


Chlorine is known to be extremely drying to our hair. Our hairs' shafts absorb the chlorine once they're wet; and that chlorine strips our hair's natural lubricants. This issue can lead to cracked cuticles, split ends, and broken strands of hair.

Those with lighter hair also tend to experience a green tint after swimming in chlorinated pools. When chlorine interacts with copper and other metals (like in pipe systems), small amounts of that metal enter the water and tint our hair. The green color itself isn't damaging, but it is unsightly.

Swimming and Water 

Did you know that even if you're swimming in unchlorinated water, your hair can still see damage from the constant wetting and drying process? Perfectly pure, filtered lake and stream water can be incredibly healthy for our hair-- but you have to consider that very little of our natural resources today are untouched by chemicals. 

Troubles with run-off and pollution could prove damaging to your hair once you're in the water outdoors; and, if you're heading to the beach, the salt in the water can be cause for trouble-- especially if you color your hair. Sea salt roughens your hair's surface and leaves the cuticle open and dull, which makes color fade faster.

The Sun

With prolonged exposure to the sun, our hair can be damaged by UVA and UVB rays. These rays damage the hair's cuticles and can cause discoloration, thinning, frizziness, and brittle hair strands. Those with fine or light colored hair-- along with people of color-- are at particular risk for hair damage caused by the sun.

Protecting Your Hair Over Summer

In some cases, you can help protect your hair from damage caused by chlorine simply by getting it wet with clean water beforehand. This fills your hair shafts with non-chlorinated water and renders it less likely to start absorbing chlorine. If you've got a favorite conditioner or hair oil, consider using that as a protective layer against harsh chemicals.

Swim caps are another great option for those with colored and uncolored hair alike. Because water can still seep into the cap, it's best to take additional precautionary measures (like using oil or getting your hair wet) beforehand. After swimming in chlorine or salt water, be sure to wash your hair immediately to remove damaging chemicals and salt granules.

If possible, wear hats or use umbrellas to keep your hair shielded from the sun. Aim to be out early or late in the day before the sun is at its strongest.

Color-Treated Hair

In general, try to avoid dunking your head underwater at the beach. Your color won't fade upon first (or even second or third) contact with sea water, but it's much better to be safe than sorry. Sea salt can cause some serious damage to color-treated hair-- it's best not to take risks. If you insist on swimming, you can apply hair oil before taking a dip to better protect your cuticles.

Avoiding damage to your hair this summer doesn't need to be difficult. With a little preplanning and a willingness to avoid exposure to harsh chemicals and the natural elements, you'll be able to maintain a healthy mane with ease. Use common sense, avoid prolonged exposure to chlorine and the sun, and be sure to rinse that salt water out of your hair ASAP-- they're small prices to pay to keep your hair happy and healthy. 

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