Among many other uses, chlorine is an excellent disinfectant – six times more effective than iodine, which is used to sterilize certain skin surfaces before a patient undergoes surgery (just for you to get an idea).

Chlorine and hair damage

As one of the chemical elements with the highest electronegativity, chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent and therefore highly irritating. However, if used in very small quantities, it is pretty harmless and even safe to drink (you will often notice tap water has been disinfected with chlorine, which shouldn’t be a reason to worry).

Swimming and hair damage

Swimming pools are a welcoming environment for all sorts of germs and bacteria (such as E. coli), so water is often treated with chlorine for hygiene purposes and to keep everyone safe. However, this may damage your hair even from your first swim, as a higher quantity of chlorine is needed to disinfect an entire pool. Even if E. coli infections are far worse than dry hair, we can still work our way around the latter.

How does chlorine affect your hair and skin?

Your hair may become dry and brittle, as chlorine sucks the sebum (a greasy, oily substance) out of the hair shaft. Sebum is a type of natural oil that protects your hair from damage and harsh weather conditions, as well as keeping it lubricated. You may also experience skin rashes and itches, but this depends on how sensitive your hair, scalp and skin are, and also on the amount of chlorine disinfectant being used.

Chlorine and hair health

Chlorine is bad for your hair. Fortunately, there are plenty of safety precautions you can take before you head for the swimming pool:

Use a latex or silicone swim cap

This will prevent your hair from getting in contact with pool water, so you won’t have to worry about your hair getting dry and brittle. Apply conditioner on your hair before putting your cap on.

Douse your hair in the shower before and after swimming

Your hair and skin are like a sponge: they are less likely to absorb more water from the pool if they’re already soaked. Don’t skip this step – it makes a difference!

Avoid any further damage

Aveda Damage Control

Refrain from dying your hair, using blow dryers, hot combs or curlers. Try using one of these damage protection products to help protect the hair shafts from being damaged by the chlorine.

Always wash your hair after going to the pool

Organic shampoo

You may prefer to use an organic shampoo to gently was your hair. Chlorine bonds to hair and skin very easily due to its chemical structure, which can get uncomfortable if you go swimming more than once or twice a week.

Follow up with an organic conditioner

To help gently protect your hair with natural organic ingredients try one of these organic conditioners.