How to Stop Chlorine from Ruining Your Hair Color, According to a Swimmer

After 15 years of swimming competitively, I consider myself an expert in chlorine and its effects on one’s hair routine. Not only does the chemical have the potential to make your hair dry and straw-like, but if you don’t take precautionary steps and you have light or color-treated hair, it will also warp your hair color. Trust, I’ve been the blonde who went accidentally green. 

The answer isn’t just wearing a swim cap, either. It’ll provide some protection for your hair, but is more for keeping it out of your face. And if you’re just leisurely splashing around in a pool, I doubt you’ll want to pack a Speedo. The true key to keeping chlorine from messing up your hair color is a chlorine-shielding conditioner. 

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There are two different types of products out there. Some are designed to be used before you get in the pool. They basically coat your hair in a conditioning formula so that chlorine can’t react with each strand and mess with your color. Others are chlorine-stripping products that remove the chemical from your hair before you shampoo.

After years in the water, I’ve tried more than I can count, but these four are worth a spot in my swim bag. Keep scrolling for my thoughts on each. 

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IGK Blocked Water-Resistant Hair Shield

This product was actually modeled off of the concept of waterproof mascara. The waxes found in the formula create a shield that protects hair from chlorine, sweat, and UV rays. It can be applied to dry or damp hair. Work it in like conditioner and comb it through. Pull your hair up in a bun or leave it down. All you need to do is shampoo to fully remove the product. 


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Alterna Bamboo Beach Sunshine Spray Protective Shine Veil

Work in your chlorine protection while you style your hair. This mist keeps your hair moisturized, uses sunflower seed oil as a natural shield from UV rays, and features a proprietary ingredient called Color Hold to keep your hair color at its best.


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Leonor Greyl Huile de Leonor Greyl Shampoo Treatment 

You can use this oil blend as a pre-wash moisturizing mask, or as a pre-swim treatment. Work a dime-size amount through dry hair. If you plan on getting in and out of the pool more than four times, the brand recommends reapplication. I like working the product through my hair and then pulling it up into a tight bun. 


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Philip Kingsley Swim Cap

Like the name suggests, this product acts like a second swim cap for your hair, and it was actually created at the request of the US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team. It has castor oil and olive oil to keep hair moisturized and protected, as well as elastin to strengthen the hair and reduce breakage. Apply it to damp hair in sections and comb through before swimming. 

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