My 7 Tips to Protect Your Curls While Swimming

I've been protecting my curls since I was a little girl from the damaging effects of the sun, salt water and chlorine and I figured it was time I share my secrets tips about how to protect your curlswhile swimming with you!

My Top 7 Tips to Protect Curly Hair While Swimming

Last week we went to Great Wolf Lodge, which is an amazing indoor water park, and I was worried that after all the time I've spent carefully tending to my curls this past year with the Curly Girl Method, my curls might seriously suffer. But thankfully, because I know so much more know about hair and how to fix damaged hair, I came out on top and my hair is fine!

1. Use Conditioner

This is something I've done since I was a little girl! My mom would apply Nexxus Humectress conditioner (which I don't use anymore because it contains silicones – read about why I don't use silicones here) to my wet or dry hair, then braid it in either a French braid or Dutch braids and I'd go swim! It kept my hair from becoming a tangled mess and my hair was still soft after an afternoon in the sun and chlorine.

I recommend choosing a conditioner that contains some heavier butters or oils in it to seal and protect your hair from the chlorine and drying effects of the sun. Things like shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, etc. A heavier leave-in conditioner or curl cream like BrioGeo Curl Custard (my fav!), would work well, too! It's more about looking at the ingredients and choosing a product that has oils or butters in it that can seal the hair cuticle.

  • Cantu Shea Butter Hydrating Cream Conditioner – contains shea butter as the third ingredient! And it's cheap, though it doesn't contain many naturally derived ingredients.
  • InnerSense Organics Hydrating Cream Conditioner – I have used this conditioner for years and it is quite possible the thickest, most rich conditioner I've ever used! I love it and it does contain both Shea Butter, oils like Tamanu and Flax Seed Oils, and coconut oil. Plus it's full of clean, natural ingredients and a brand I can really stand behind. Of course, that also means that it's pricier!
  • Rawkyn Red Clay Mask – this is a rich and deeply hydrating deep conditioner. It's my favorite so far! My hair just eats it up. It contains Murumuru butter and Coconut Oil which will both seal the cuticle and protect the hair. It is a very thick mask, so those with fine hair may not like it as it can weigh fine hair down.
  • Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner – this has shea butter and coconut oil as the first two ingredients!

2. Use Oils

If your hair does okay with oils, then you could use them to seal the hair cuticle. If anything, you could apply only to the ends so as not to weigh your hair down too much afterwards. If your hair does still weighed down after swimming, then use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo to remove the oils.

To use the oils, put a few drops into your hands and apply to wet or dry hair. Apply mostly to the ends.

  • Righteous Roots Hair RX – this is a wonderful blend of oils and essential oils that smells divine (no artificial anything, not even fragrance in it!).
  • Ancient Greek Remedy Oil – this is similar to the Righteous Roots oil – a combo of oils and essential oils for a wonderful, natural and nourishing treatment for your hair.
  • Olive Oil – use it in your kitchen and in your hair! You don't really need something fancy unless you want the extra nourishment from the other oils, but good ole' olive oil still works well for hair!
  • Moroccan Argan Oil – this oil has been long known for its skin and hair benefits!

3. Protect your curls while swimming? Swim Cap!

If you swim regularly, use a swim cap, it will help protect your curls while swimming the best! Though I would still apply conditioner or oils to the hair as some water will get in underneath the cap.

4. Use a Protective Hair Style

If your hair is long, it is especially helpful to braid your hair! Apply conditioner or oils before braiding to seal the cuticle and protect it from the chlorine and sun. My favorite ways to braid my hair are a French braid or dutch braids. I learned how to braid as a kid, and maybe one of these days I'll get around to showing a video of how I braid my own hair. But for now, there are a ton of tutorials on YouTube!

5. Clarify Afterwards

To protect your curls while swimming use a clarifying shampoo and this really seems to help remove the chlorine from my hair. I nearly always follow clarifying with a deep conditioning session to restore the moisture to my hair.

  • Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo. My hair is never dried out and never feels stripped after using it!
  • Babo Botanicals Swim & Sport Shampoo & Wash – this is a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo specifically designed to remove chlorine and hard water buildup! It contains a corn-derived chelator to remove the chlorine and minerals. Best part is that it's a clean product and also comes from a cruelty-free company!
  • ACURE Curiously Clarifying Lemongrass Shampoo  – another great natural product that clarifies without sulfates! This one mentions buildup and not chlorine, so I'm not sure how effective it will be in removing chlorine.
  • Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo – this sulfate-free shampoo contains many oils and moisturizing ingredients which will be wonderful for restoring moisture after the chlorine, sun and/or salt water strips it out! It is not specified for chlorine, however, so I'm not sure if it effectively removes it or not.

6. Deep Condition

I highly recommend a deep conditioning session after you've clarified your hair! It will help to restore much needed moisture to your probably dry curls. I have an entire post just on this topic because it is so important to having gorgeous curly hair! Check it out here.

My favorite, and I feel like most effective way to deep condition is to use a heat cap and leave on for at least 30 minutes. However, if you're pressed for time, clarify and add your favorite silicone-free deep conditioner to your hair, then put on a shower cap. It will act as a greenhouse will you finish your shower. Remove the cap, rinse out the condoner and style like normal!

7. Do a Bond Repair Treatment Afterwards

As soon as I came home from the water park, I clarified, then did a bond repair treatment, and then deep conditioned. My hair looked so good that several people asked me if I was wearing a wig! My curls were soft, shiny and very bouncy!

How to Heal Damaged Hair with a Bond Repair Treatment

I have an entire post on bond repair treatments because they are an amazing technology for damaged hair! When our hair is exposed to hair color, bleaching, chlorine, and other damage the bonds that hold the protein molecules together in the hair cortex become broken. These bond treatments are able to restore those broken bonds! Make sure to read my post to learn more about the magic of these treatments.

Thanks for listening to my & tips to protect your curls while swimming!

My Top 7 Tips to Protect Curly Hair while Swimming

One Comment

  1. I found this helpful, but had a few specific questions. My daughter is a competitive swimmer. She swims almost daily for 2 hours a day. She needs to wash her hair daily because of the chlorine. Do you think it is harmful to use a chlorine clarifying shampoo (she uses Paul Mitchell’s Three Shampoo). She follows it with a regular conditioner. Should she be using a deep conditioner every time? Should she be using a deep conditioner daily? 7Any recommendations to get her hair more hydrated?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *