Natural Hair & Swimming: Tips to prevent breakage

Swimming is one of the most enjoyable pastimes and super beneficial to maintaining our health and well-being, and yet, so many of us with Afro textured hair are put off by it due to the damage it can cause our strands. We offer some tips on how to take care of your natural hair while you get on with the business of enjoying a butterfly stroke.

Swimming is one of the most effective ways to exercise, and it is said when we swim every part of our body is being exerted and worked out. It also helps with our cardiovascular fitness, builds endurance, muscle strength and helps us to maintain a healthy weight. Swimming is also a very relaxing, low impact mode of exercise that helps us to alleviate stress. With so many benefits, we surely should be all running to our local swimming pool and signing up for a lifetime membership, right? That’s sadly not always the case as so many of us are put off of swimming due to the chlorine found in swimming pools (or sea salt in the sea) that can be incredibly harsh on our hair. But the good news is that with precautionary measures you can enjoy swimming with very little impact to the health of your hair. Read on for our top tips.


Preparation is key

You can prepare to minimise the chlorine damage to your hair before you even step into the pool by cleansing it before you swim. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the science behind it is wet hair absorbs less chlorine and sea salt than dry hair. Therefore, get into the shower and wet your hair, giving chlorine little chance of penetrating your hair strands to the point it causes damage.

Create a barrier

Adding a natural oil to your hair before you swim such as KeraCare®Essential Oils, which contains a rich blend of almond oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil, acts as a barrier to prevent damaging elements like chlorine and sea salt diffusing into your hair. This addition of natural oils pre-swim will also add extra moisture to your hair.


Add a protective style

Before you take a dip, style your hair in a protective style such as thick cornrows, Bantu knots or double-stranded twists tied up into a bun. This will prevent your hair from becoming tangled if when water seeps through your swim cap. It will also minimise the absorption of chlorine and sea water.

Find a swim cap that works

There seems to be two distinct camps where swim caps are concerned: some swear by them, while others will never be convinced that they actually work. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s worth noting that over the last few years there has been a whole host of swim caps that have entered the market that take into account how diverse our hair is, with some caps aimed at those of us with coily and curly hair types. So we suggest researching online to look for a cap that suits your needs. While we are not sure that any swim cap will keep your hair completely bone dry, a good cap can minimise the amount of water that seeps through. But word of advice: try not to apply a cap that’s too tight as it can damage your hairline.

Rinse hair thoroughly

Upon leaving the pool wash your hair thoroughly to remove chlorine. We recommend KeraCare® 1st Lather Shampoo a unique formula that gently removes build-up in preparation of the second stage of your cleansing regime. Use a wide tooth comb and detangle hair gently (from tip to root), before giving hair a second cleanse with KeraCare® Hydrating Detangling Shampoo.


Apply a post-swim treatment

Help to replace your hair’s lost moisture by applying a deep treatment mask like KeraCare® Intensive Restorative Masque. This thick and creamy emollient is designed to inject dry and damaged hair with renewed elasticity, and is perfect for limp strands that have been affected by chlorine and salt water. Leave the mask on with a plastic cap for at least 20 minutes for maximum results. Rinse thoroughly, but avoid blow-drying your hair afterwards as this will only deplete your hair of its natural oils further. Instead, section your hair and apply 4-6 thick braids, allowing them to air dry naturally.

We’d love to keep the conversation going. Let us know in the comments if you are a fan of swimming, and if so, what are some of the precautions you take to keep your strands safe?