Taking Care of Swimmer Skin and Hair

Chlorine protects us from the harmful bacteria that can grow in our pool, but it can have an averse effect on our body, leaving our skin dry and itchy and our hair dry and brittle. SwimWest Swim Instructor and Mom of 2, Amy Horvath, gives us some tips on how to protect and ward off the effects of chlorine on your body.

Dry Skin and Hair 101 . . .

One winter, my husband and I lived really close to SwimWest. I decided that at the end of my nighttime shifts I was going to change and go straight home to shower instead of showering at work.  Despite showering as soon as I got home, within a week I was itching my shins bloody in my sleep, and my hair felt like something that should be fed to a cow, not reside on my head. Those few minutes had made a huge difference in my body’s ability to protect itself with its natural barriers.

Swimming is one of the most enjoyable things you can do, but it can also take a toll on your skin and hair, especially during the winter.  No one enjoys the feeling of straw-like hair or dry, cracked, and itchy skin.  I am going to let you in on a few tricks that SwimWest instructors use in order to maintain normal skin and hair – call it my “Dry Skin and Hair 101!”

First and Foremost

Take a cool shower before you get in the pool.  I know this sounds uncomfortable, but it will help close up your pores, and your hair follicles will absorb the fresh shower water first so that it absorbs less of the chlorine.   It also keeps the pool cleaner for your enjoyment!

Create a barrier

Put in a leave in conditioner or conditioning spray for extra protection after you take your cool shower to seal in the fresh water.  You can do the same thing for your skin by putting on lotion or Vaseline before entering the pool.

Put a cap on it

Not only does putting a cap on your head keep the pool cleaner and more pleasant to swim in, but it will also help to keep the fresh water in and the chlorinated or salt water out of your hair!

Rinse, Rinse, and Rinse some more

As soon as you are done swimming, you should rinse your hair and body with fresh water.  If you wait to rinse the water from the pool, it will eventually evaporate from your hair and skin, leaving behind the chlorine or salt, resulting in a dry and itchy sensation.  After you rinse, there are special shampoos and body washes, such as Triswim, that help to remove the chlorine and salt from your skin and hair. After showering, applying a heavy leave in conditioner or oil, like coconut oil, to your hair and lotion to your skin will help maintain your natural oils.

Weekly Prevention

Conditioner and lotion shouldn’t be something you only decide to apply on swim days.  If you use them regularly throughout the week to maintain healthy skin and hair, it will go a long way to preventing straw-like hair and dry, cracked and itchy skin from the pool.

Follow these tips and you will hopefully avoid the dry and itchy pitfalls of swimming.  I can’t promise your hair won’t turn green, though, so check back soon for tips on getting rid of that lovely green buildup in your hair that makes it look like your hair is molding…