Black Hair & Swimming

Are You Or Your Daughter Swimming This Summer?

I was a swimmer when I was in Grade 3 to Grade 9, and for most of those years I either had very short hair or had very dry natural hair.  That’s because my hair would eventually fall out when relaxed or permed.  However, nowadays I swim with ease knowing how to take proper care of my hair.

Swimming in a pool with its chlorine or the sea with its saltiness can be problematic to hair.  The problem is that the PH of hair is 4.5 to 5.5 and most times chlorinated water has a higher PH value.  The optimum PH value for pool water is 7.4, since this is the same as the PH in human eyes and mucous membranes, and this is high enough to disinfect swimming pool water.  Seawater PH value ranges from 7.5 to 8.4.  These PH values dry out hair.  For hair to have a normal healthy shine and luster it must be between 4.5 and 5.5 in PH value.  Most hair conditioners have a PH value of 4 thus they work well to keep hair looking shiny, soft and lustrous.

To be able to swim freely in swimming pools or at the beach with your natural or relaxed hair and still keep hair in good condition, the following are recommended:

  • Always wet hair with clean tap water before going into the sea or pool.  Most swimming caps will let water in any way so it will get wet.  Wetting your hair and sitting 15 minutes will ensure your hair swells and can no longer absorb chlorinated or salty water
  • Apply a penetrating oil like coconut oil (or AfroBotanics Super Hair Growth Crème), the oil will be absorbed and protect the hair from salt and chlorine.  If possible, apply the oil the night before going swimming
  • Coat hair with conditioner or a leave-in conditioner to close off cuticle and to create a barrier between hair strands the water you’ll be swimming in – but not too much as you don’t want other swimmers swimming in your conditioner
  • Hair gets tangled very easily in water, so braid hair or tie up in a bun to avoid it tangling whilst swimming
  • When wearing a swimming cap, apply some oil/leave-in conditioner/conditioner to the edges.  Swimming caps often pull tight around the edges and this can pull hair out

After swimming do the following:

  • Shampoo hair with a sulphate-free shampoo, however if you swim often you should use a chelating or sulphate shampoo to remove build-up once a month.  If you swim occasionally, co-washing is good enough to remove the chlorine, salt and other minerals from your hair
  • Always condition hair after swimming, and deep condition often.  If swimming at the gym you may consider apply plenty conditioner and going into the steam room for 15 minutes without a cap to really deep condition your hair
  • De-tangle hair with a wide tooth-comb and start from the tips working your way to the roots.
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