Chlorine removal shampoo is just one of several steps you can take to protect your hair from the damage caused by chlorine in the pool. Dry, brittle hair that feels like straw and even color changes can result from the bond that is formed between chlorine and your hair.
And then there are those of use who spend lots of money to have our hair colored and highlighted and want to protect our "investment." Don't just rely on a chlorine removal shampoo to keep your hair healthy and hydrated. Try using these strategies to minimize the drying effects of chlorine.
1. Wet Your Hair Before Swimming
We have an outdoor shower, so I step into it first and soak my hair. This simple step minimizes how much chlorine is absorbed into your hair. Dry hair will absorb more chlorine and cause more damage leaving your hair feel like straw. After I get my hair wet I add a dab of conditioner and move it through my hair with my fingers or mix water and conditioner in a spray bottle and spry it in my wet hair.
2. Wear a Swim Cap
For those who regularly swim laps and and want added hair protection, wear a swim cap. Not sure I know anyone who wears one - but it's an option and a swim cap would help protect your hair.
3. Re-Wet Your Hair
If I've been out of the pool for a while, and my hair has dried, I re-wet my hair with a spray mixture of water and my favorite conditioner. Before going back into the pool I always make sure my hair is wet before re-entering.
4. Rinse Off with Water
Using plain water from a shower or hose, rinse out your hair when you get out of the pool. Don't use any shampoo or conditioner yet - just water.
5. Shower Filter to Remove Chlorine
After getting out of the pool you don't want to add more chlorine by showering with chlorine treated water. We have added a chlorine filter shower head to our outdoor shower.AquaBliss High Output Universal Shower Filter with Replaceable 3-Stage Filter Cartridge
6. Remove Chlorine with a Vitamin C Spray
Not sure how they measure this, but SwimWay claims that their spray is "400x more effective than" traditional chlorine removal shampoo.
You can also make your own Vitamin C spray using powdered vitamin C to remove chlorine smell and to protect your hair. Mix one tablespoon of the powder into about a pint of water and put it into a spray bottle. First get your whole body wet in the shower, shut off the water, spritz yourself down with the vitamin C/water solution, and rinse. There won't be a hint of chlorine odor left on you. I use the Now brand for my solution.NOW Foods Vitamin C Crystals, Ascorbic Acid, 1 Pound
7. Shower and Shampoo
Always rinse your hair as soon as possible when leaving the pool and ideally shampoo it to aid in removing the chlorine.
However, regular shampoos aren't able to break the chlorine to hair bond. There are shampoos that are specifically formulated to remove chlorine and can effectively to strip away this hair drying and damaging chemical.
It is effective in removing chlorine build up and is good for all hair types including color treated hair. The reason I don't use it is because it has synthetic fragrance, parabens and a formaldehyde releaser, called diazolidinyl urea. You can read about the ingredients and their toxicity ratings for UltraSwim Chlorine Removal Shampoo here:
Add about a tablespoon of baking soda to a squirt of your favorite shampoo. If it's a little too thick add a little bit of water and work the mixture into your hair and onto your scalp and back of your neck. After you've massage and lathered your hair rinse and then repeat a second time to be sure you're getting out all the chlorine, sunscreen and conditioner you put into your hair previously.
I have transitioned to using safer personal care products and look for shampoos, body washes and lotions that rate a 1 or 2 for safety at ewg.org/skindeep database like these hair care products by Beautycounter.
For years I had an itchy scalp which probably was exacerbated by chlorine, but when I switched my shampoo to one that is free of synthetic fragrances and formaldehyde my itchy scalp cleared up in about 3 months - thank you Beautycounter. Not only has my scalp healed, I get hair that is healthy, shiny and full of body.
If you add baking soda to your shampoo there's no need to buy special chlorine removal shampoo.
When you get out of the pool, chlorine is "stuck" to your skin. Not only does this bacteria fighting chemical leave you smelling like chlorine, it also leaves you with "the gift" of dry, itchy skin. Some people have an allergy to chlorine witch can result in a chlorine rash.
One thing I am more aware of when I am in the pool frequently is that I have to work harder at hydrating and moisturizing my skin. You know about that dry, tight feeling that often is accompanied by irritated and itchy skin after some pool time. Here are some tips that have helped to protect my skin:
1. Wet Your Skin Before Swimming
Just like your hair, dry skin absorbs more chlorine and causes more damage leaving you with itching skin that feels tight and dry. Again either quickly run the hose over your skin or if you have an outdoor shower, get your skin nice and wet before entering the pool.
2. Shower With Plain Water
Rinse off your skin with just water from a hose or a shower (ideally one with a chlorine water filter).
3. Use a Chlorine Removing SprayHave you noticed that depending on how high the level of chlorine is, you can still smell like chlorine even after you have showered? Leave it to your grandkids to tell you that you smell like the swimming pool. Plain water and a body wash might get you clean but they can't remove the chlorine smell or all of the chlorine that has bonded to your skin.
Now that I know about these neutralizing, safe vitamin C sprays, I keep one in our outdoor shower and spray it all over my hair and skin after rinsing off with plain water.
It has really helped to keep my skin from drying out and becoming itchy. For afternoons by the pool when I am in and out of the water, I don't wait to use the spray. My legs seem to react the most and get itchy when I get out of the pool, so now I spray them right away with the vitamin C spray. It just takes a couple of sprays and the itchiness goes away.SwimSpray Chlorine Removal Spray
3. Shower With Hydrating Cleanser
After you have used the chlorine removing spray, shower your body using a hydrating body wash - not one that strips your skin of oils- and rinse everything off.
4. Dry Skin Lotions
Even with a vigilant chlorine removal strategy, your skin will get dry from being in the pool and the sun.
It's best to apply body moisturizers for dry skin right after you shower while your skin is still damp. I put a squirt of Lustro Body Oil in my hand along with a squirt of Hydrate Body Lotion by Beautycounter. Rub it on your legs, feet, arms, neck and chest to help eliminate dry, itchy skin. It absorbs quickly, hydrates deeply but doesn't leave a greasy feel. The oil is expensive, but one bottle has lasted me almost a year.
For dry skin patches I use a more intense cream or body butter. Places like my elbow, heels, feet and neck need a little more hydration and seem to dry out more. I find this body butter, Enrich by Beautycounter to be very healing and soothing. You will love how rich and thick this moisturizing cream is and how well it hydrates and repairs your skin. You only need a tiny bit to put on your dry patch of skin to see results.
You might not be able to control your chlorine exposure as a swimmer but you can control what lotions you put on your skin. Feel good about what you put on your hair and skin with products that use safer ingredients.