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Is Chlorine Taking A Toll On Your Hair? Here's How To Treat It

by Sarah Kester - June 14, 2021

There's so much to look forward to with summer: basking in the sun (with SPF of course), hitting the beach or pool, taking your workouts outside. But in the midst of all that salt, sand, chlorine and sun is something about as unpleasant as not having air conditioning: hair damage.

Unfortunately, this can be caused by your favorite summer activities. "Exposing our hair to sun rays can be damaging, as well as swimming in chlorine pools and saltwater ocean," explains Gabrielle White, Master Cosmetologist and Creative director of Dashstylists.com. As a result, the hair becomes brittle and maybe even green (yes, green).

If you're ready to get your mane back on track, follow this blueprint laid out by the hairstylists. Look out, sun-kissed highlights and dreamy beachy waves!

What causes damage to our hair during the summer?

Sun and chlorine are the two heavy-hitters to your tresses during the warmer months. Starting with the sun rays, continuous exposure to UVA and UVB rays may damage the cuticle and lead to discoloration, split ends, frizz, brittleness and thinning, according to Monica Davis, professional hairstylist, founder of the MyStraightener blog.

While chlorine is great for pools – it's a disinfectant that removes bacteria – the harsh chemicals are less ideal for your hair and skin. Blondes have even more to worry about since chlorine and copper bond to create an unwanted green-ish hue.

If your plan is to become a beach bum, Davis says to keep in mind that seawater is also very salty. Essentially, "both types of water (chlorine and ocean water) can overdry your hair." Instead, follow these tips.

Rinse your hair thoroughly after swimming

One too many laps in the pool can do a number on your hair, so don’t forget that post-pool rinse. "This sounds simple, but many people forget this step and it can help remove chlorine that if left on will be damaging," says White. The same goes after a day at the beach. "You have to rinse off sand and salt that have stayed in your hair for sure," Davis tells Lively. Use a blast of cold water after shampooing and conditioning, adds RPZL Master Stylist, Stephanie Angelone.

Achieve your summer hair goals with Vital Proteins Hair Boost™! It’s made with collagen, biotin, vitamins A & C and other hair-healthy vitamins to support healthier hair** this summer and all-year round.

Deep condition the hair after shampooing

Staying hydrated is key for your body during the summer – and your hair. Quench the hair's thirst with conditioner.

"This will help with sun damaged or dry hair replacing moisture where it was lost," says White. She adds that you should even use a conditioner before swimming. This will "help protect the hair follicles and stop the copper attaching itself."

The conditioner helps to close the elevated cuticle and make the hair moisturized and protected again, add Davis.

Apply nourishing hair masks

This is key to restoring the moisture and repairing the damaged cuticle. For this, Davis says to apply oil hair masks (olive, coconut, argan or almond oil will work).

Then, "wrap your head with a damp towel for 30 minutes after applying any of these oils and then wash your hair with your favorite shampoo and warm (not steamy hot!) water."

Use a clarifying shampoo

"If chlorine has damaged your hair, it's likely that it's also building up in your hair and causing it to feel worse than it is," explains White.

You can purchase a clarifying shampoo or make your own at home with apple cider vinegar (equal parts water and ACV).

Go the extra mile for your hair by adding in weekly or bi-weekly deep conditioning treatments.

"It will help seal in moisture and smooth frizzy dry hair caused by chlorine reversing some of the damage," says White.

Angelone highly recommends Olaplex or coconut oil treatments.

Use baking soda

This is essential for blondes who have been hit with discoloration from chlorine.

Angelone says to use baking soda mixed with water and then shampoo and condition as normal.

Protect your scalp

Don't let the lazy, hazy days of summer make you forget about scalp care.

"Protecting your scalp from sunburn and adding moisture to the skin on your scalp can make a world of difference during the hot summer months," explains Heather King-Labeur, senior stylist at Radio London hair salon and Redken artist. Another way you can protect your scalp is by avoiding certain taut hairstyles that pull at the hair follicles, such as a bun.

Wear a hat this summer

You want to wear a straw hat this summer – not have strands that resemble straw. Shield your mane with a hat that protects hair from direct UVA and UVB rays, says Davis.

If you want to prevent chlorine damage in the first place, the experts recommend wearing a different kind of hat when you swim: a swim cap. Sure, it's not the most fashionable look — especially if you're trying to capture the attention of the cute lifeguard — but it does the job. Plus, it saves you on blow-drying after.

Win-win!

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