Is Chlorine Bad for Your Hair? Essential Care and Repair Tips

Swimming is a fun and relaxing activity to do on sunny summer days. However, pool water can leave your hair dry and brittle. While chlorine is essential for killing germs and keeping your pool water clean, it can also be very harsh on your hair. If you want your hair to look great, even after many trips to the pool, read on for some amazing haircare tips and how to protect your hair from chlorine chemical damage.

What is chlorine?

Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant that is widely used to kill harmful microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs. While a useful addition in swimming pools for that particular reason, chlorine may not be so beneficial for your hair.


Is chlorine bad for your hair?

Yes, chlorine is indeed bad for your hair. While the chlorine in regular tap water is usually not a concern during routine showers, the amount of chlorine found in swimming pools is much larger and can really damage your hair. The longer and more often your strands are exposed to chlorine water, the more damage it will likely do to your hair and scalp.

What does chlorine do to your hair?

Because chlorine is a chemical, it can rapidly strip your hair of moisture, resulting in dry hair. You might also notice your hair is more brittle and prone to split ends. Frequent exposure to chlorine can make your hair porous, further increasing hair breakage.

In addition, chlorine reacts with the compound that gives your hair its color. This may result in color change, and the effect is even more pronounced if the hair is dyed.

Signs of chlorine-damaged hair

Some common signs of chlorine damage may include:

  • Brittle and dry hair
  • Split ends
  • Increased breakage
  • Change in hair color
  • Tangled and frizzy hair
  • Itchy and irritated scalp

Additionally, certain hair types are often more vulnerable to chlorine water damage than others. This includes fine, damaged, chemically treated, and colored hair.

How to protect hair from chlorine

Going for a swim? Here are some simple tips for protecting hair from chlorine damage.

Wet your hair first

One of the best things you can do before you dive into the pool is to rinse your hair with clean water. The hair is like a sponge — when it's dry, it will absorb water. Therefore, if your hair is already saturated with clean water, it won't absorb as much chlorine water in the pool.

Apply a natural oil

Oils act as a chlorine-protectant on your hair. Before you go swimming, apply some oil such as coconut or jojoba oil to your hair. Since oils usually act as an efficient barrier between your hair and the chlorinated water, they may prevent chlorine from penetrating deep into the strands.

Apply leave-in conditioner

Applying a leave-in conditioner before heading into the pool can be a good way to protect your hair. It creates a barrier on the hair surface, which prevents harmful chemicals from penetrating the hair cuticle. The conditioner also helps add hair moisture and keeps the hair soft and tangle-free, reducing the risk of hair breakage.

Wear a swim cap


Using a tight-fitting swim cap is probably the most efficient way to protect your hair in the swimming pool. While the cap won't keep your hair completely dry, it does minimize water exposure, which is a crucial haircare step for regular swimmers.

How to protect bleached hair from chlorine

Bleached hair is usually more susceptible to chlorine damage. If you're worried about the damaging effects of chlorine on your hair, you can try a swim spray product for hair color protection, which helps block chlorine from penetrating deep into the strands. It would also help if you used a leave-in conditioner made for bleached hair.

Don't forget aftercare

Post-swim haircare routine is as important as pre-swim preparation, helping further mitigate the damage caused by chlorine. Here are some post-swim care tips for your hair:

  1. Rinse your hair with clean water immediately after swimming. This can help remove chlorine in your hair and prevent more damage.
  2. Use a hydrating shampoo to remove chlorine buildup from your hair and help maintain hydration levels.
  3. Apply a deep-conditioning treatment. This can help replenish moisture for extremely dry hair.
  4. Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair. Wet hair is usually more prone to breakage, so it is essential to use a gentle comb to detangle it.

How to fix chlorine-damaged hair

Although chlorine can be very damaging to your hair, there are several ways to help reverse the damage. Below are some simple tips for repairing chlorine-damaged hair.

Use a clarifying shampoo

If you're a frequent swimmer, chlorine is likely to build up in your hair and stay there, which may cause further damage. In such cases, a clarifying shampoo may prove useful in removing any remaining chlorine, with ingredients that effectively deep clean your hair of any impurities. However, such shampoos can be drying for your hair, so it's essential not to use them too often.


Use a protein treatment

Chlorine may break down the proteins in the hair, making protein treatments a useful method for strengthening by restoring what chlorine strips away. Make sure you choose a gentle treatment to nourish your hair.

Use a moisturizing mask

A deep-conditioning hair mask may help restore your hair's natural luster and prevent breakage. For example, you can try mixing honey and aloe vera. Honey helps moisturize and condition your hair and may potentially reduce hair breakage. Meanwhile, aloe vera is an excellent ingredient for moisturizing damaged hair. Use the mask at least once per week or as needed.

Remember, if your hair is severely damaged, it's best to seek professional help. An expert can recommend the best hair products to help address your specific problem.

The verdict

So, is chlorine bad for your hair? The short answer is yes. However, taking the necessary precautions can help protect your hair, allowing you to enjoy your swim. Make sure you rinse your hair before swimming, wear a swimming cap, and have a good post-swim haircare routine. Also, using a leave-in conditioner and natural oils on hair can provide extra hair protection.


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