After a fun-filled pool party, you may have noticed that your hair become dry and you’re wondering why is that. The reason is chlorine in the pool water that damages hair, skin and even irritates the eyes. We’ll discuss later how chlorine hair damage happens but first a little bit about chlorine.
Since 1905, chlorine is used to kill certain bacteria and other microbes in water. As a disinfectant, chlorine has helped improve the lives of billions of people around the world. Chlorine-based pool and spa disinfectants help keep recreational waters safe by destroying waterborne pathogens that can result in illnesses, such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, swimmer’s ear or skin rashes, including athlete’s foot.
Our chlorine exposure is not only through the swimming pools but it also exists in our regular tap water, household disinfectants, pesticides, healthcare, and other industrial products. That’s a pretty brief intro of chlorine, Let’s move on.
Chlorine hair damage – How it works?
Regular exposure to chlorinated water can cause significant damage to your hair. Disinfectants, in general, are used to break down and remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. Chlorine is an oxidizer, it penetrates the hair’s outer protective layer, and damages the underlying structure, making the hair dull, dry and fragile. This weakens the hair so much that it breaks off easily during the styling process. This excessive hair breakage is directly due to the chlorinated water used when washing the hair.
Can chlorine affect the hair color?
Chlorine doesn’t directly affect the natural hair color but its regular exposure strips the oil from the hair making them dry, dull & brittle. However, the dyed hair are no exception. As the color-treated hair are already bleached out to apply new hair color, they are more prone to hair damage, fading or change of the color. This color change comes from the oxidation process of copper in the water and chlorine. Once those particles stick to the porous damaged hair shaft, they leave behind that unwanted greenish hue.
Which hair types are at higher risk of chlorine damage?
Everyone who regularly exposes their hair to chlorinated water is at risk of damaging hair. But there are certain hair types that are at greater risk of chlorine damage. If your hair meets the following criteria, you will want to take extra care to prevent and treat chlorine damage:
- Color-Treated Hair: especially if your hair is chemically lightened or highlighted.
- Chemically Treated Hair: permed or relaxed
- Dry, thin or fine hair
- Previously Damaged Hair (due to lack of nutrition, excessive use of heat styling tools)
We can’t totally eliminate the chlorine from the water because it has some benefits of killing bacteria and prevent us from diseases but it doesn’t mean that we should let our hair affected by chlorine. Use the following preventive measures and let your hair grow strong and healthy. You may also find this article helpful Small Changes For Healthy Hair You Need To Do It Now
How to prevent chlorine damage to the hair?
Chlorinated water creates a challenging situation for hair health, but it is altogether preventable by incorporating the following measures:
Saturate your hair with water
Before you enter the pool, rinse your hair with clean non-chlorinated tap water to saturate your hair. Hair has hygroscopic properties that allow it to attract and retain water. Healthy hair has an average 10% moisture level and it can absorb 30% water of its own weight. It is clear that if you pre saturate your hair before diving into the pool the chlorinated water will less likely to be absorbed by the hair.
Use a swim cap
Swimming caps are a great way to prevent chlorine damage to hair while swimming. They may not be the ideal fashion accessory but they do their job pretty well. They won’t let your hair to soak chlorinated pool water but there are chances that pool water may leak in under the cap. So it’s recommended to pre-wash your hair with non-chlorinated water before wearing the cap.
Rinse thoroughly after swimming
Whether it’s pre or post swimming, I can’t stress enough on the importance of freshwater hair wash. Many of us won’t take a shower immediately after exiting the pool. It’s as important as pre-saturating the hair before hitting the pool. Post rinsing will not only remove the chlorine from the hair but it also helps to clear it from the skin. If left behind, it may cause dry scalp and irritating skin. Chlorine buildup on the scalp is not good for hair growth. It dries out the skin, removes oil and moisture from the hair resulting in dry brittle hair.
How to treat chlorine damaged hair?
If you swim in the pool frequently, have chlorine in the tap water and noticed your hair are lifeless, dry and brittle than it’s time to take control of your hair health. Follow these steps to rejuvenate your chlorine-damaged hair.
First, you need to control the daily exposure of chlorine to hair in the treatment plan. Invest in a good shower filter that will remove most of the chlorine from the water. Non-chlorinated water can help hair retaining their moisture level until other harsh detergents are not used.
Shampoo & Conditioner
Use good quality shampoos and conditioners. Daily shampooing is the single best thing to avoid damage to the hair. Reliable shampoos remove chlorine from the hair while not stripping away the natural oils that seal the cuticle. Top-quality hair conditioners are also very effective in helping retain the natural oils in the cuticle while moisturizing and conditioning. This purifying shampoo, conditioner & mask collection seems promising and can revitalize hair.
While in more challenging situations, good nutrition is very important to provide an optimum supply of vitamins and nutrients to strengthen the hair to help it withstand adverse circumstances.
So, although showering and bathing with water high in chlorine can present a challenging situation to your hair, the damaging effects can be mitigated by preventive measures.