One of the biggest reasons we avoid the pool during those scorching hot summer days is because we don’t want to mess with the effects of chlorine. Whether we just colored our strands, or we’ve been on a mission to keep them super healthy, “Chlorine can strip the natural oils from all hair types, making hair dry and brittle,” explains 30-year hairstylist Emily Pinegar. “It may also lead to discoloration, especially in lighter hair [think blonde hair-turned-green hair], and cause the hair to become more porous, making it more susceptible to damage [think breakage and split ends].”
If you’re a water girlie and just can’t stay away, you can minimize swimmer’s hair damage by wetting your hair before swimming, according to Pinegar. “This will help the chlorine to not be able to penetrate into the cuticle of the hair as quickly as having dry hair and jumping into the pool,” she explains. “You can also use leave-in conditioner in your hair after you wet it (we recommend something with coconut oil, argan oil, vitamin E, aloe vera, and other color-safe ingredients that keep the hair feeling soft). I encourage braiding the hair with the conditioner if your hair is long enough. This is also an amazing trick if you’re going to be in the lake or ocean to protect your hair.” And of course you can wear a swim cap, but that’s not always going to be practical.
Below we’ve recommended the eight best shampoos to lather on for chlorine removal. But before we get into the hair products on the list, keep in mind that a seemingly obvious clarifying shampoo may not be your best bet. “Using a clarifying or detox shampoo will help with product buildup and dandruff, but don’t be fooled,” Pinegar says. “Using a clarifying shampoo post-swim can have an adverse effect. If you’re using it daily or even every other day, clarifying shampoos can cause dryness. Try out these hair cleansers just once a week if you swim often. In my 32 years of experience, those who swim in salt water pools and not chlorine pool water have a much better outcome with their hair if that's something you're able to consider as well.” Shampoos for chlorine damage are everywhere. You’ll want to aim for sulfate-free shampoo. Keep scrolling for our best chlorine hair care picks.
About the Experts:
Whether you’re a pro, or you just love being in the pool, this powerhouse product is designed for everyday use to ensure swimmers don’t end up with chlorine buildup, among other things. Vegan, cruelty-free, oil and vitamin-based, this luscious formula helps purify your hair and skin from the aftermath of swimming.
This hydrating shampoo gently cleanses and replenishes moisture while strengthening stressed-out strands. It includes BETTER NATURED’s signature triple plant milk blend of coconut, Tahitian Palm and white orchid for added hydration. “It also helps prevent future damage, which is super important,” says hair pro Melessia Wade-Smith of her favorite product.
Pinegar recommends using a clarifying shampoo that has vitamin C, sodium thiosulfate, or apple cider vinegar in it. If you swim regularly and need to clarify more frequently, she suggests EVO NORMAL Persons Shampoo because it’s gentle enough for everyday use, while still doing its job to protect the hair from active chlorine exposure.
Wade-Smith says a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo is key because “It won’t continue to strip natural oils from your hair,” she explains. “It should be gentle enough to remove product buildup and chemicals from your hair and scalp without taking away too much moisture. Choosing a shampoo that is specifically meant to repair and hydrate damaged hair is essential after it has been exposed to such a harsh chemical like chlorine.”
One too many dips in the pool can lead you to brassiness that nightmares are made of. We love this ultra-pigmented pick from UNITE because it gets blonde shades lighter and brighter in just one minute by gently cleansing, purifying, and neutralizing unwanted brassy tones. The best part is it lasts through several shampoos, especially if you pair it with BLONDA Daily Shampoo on your no-tone wash days. It’s also paraben-free, cruelty-free and vegan.
We’re fans of this product because of its sulfate-free formula that gently washes colored, bleached or highlighted hair. Natural antioxidant vitamins protect the hair fiber against everyday oxidative stress (which yes, includes chlorine) while an acidic pH seals the hair cuticle to prevent loss of pigments.
Salt? Check. Sand? Check. Chlorine? Check. Sunscreen buildup? Check. Unless you’re locked away in a dungeon during the summer, your hair is bound to get a taste of the inevitable. We stand by this shampoo because of its nourishment, protection and effective removal of the unavoidable aspects of the sunniest season.
We love the deep, detoxifying cleanse we get from using this product, but without the stripping or drying that can often accompany this type. This charcoal-infused all-star removes buildup and color-dulling residues from dry shampoos, styling products, chlorine, hard water, and pollution. Added bonus? Witch hazel and tea tree oil help soothe the scalp.
While designed specifically with swimmers in mind, this niche product is suitable for anyone who gets in the pool frequently. We’re amazed by how effortlessly it deep cleans hair and removes chlorine, iron and minerals that can give hair a greenish tint. It washes away dulling buildup, strengthens strands and minimizes future buildup.
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