Monday, 30 September 2013

Ten Simple Steps to Swimming With Natural Hair

The sun's out after months in hiding and yesterday I attended the first of many (hopefully) pool parties. Ok ok, not quite as glam as it sounds.  It was actually a children's party and I had pre-pooed my LO's hair with coconut oil and applied a leave-in conditioner in preparation.  Then, five minutes before we set off, I received a text from the host reminding me not to forget swimwear. Wait a second! Do you mean for ME??! My husband was staring at me like 'duh, did you think our 17 month old would be swimming alone?' and i'm looking at him like 'I thought they'd just be paddling around in a little kiddie pool!'

With trepidation, I packed my bikini, wondering what would become of my hair.  There was simply no time to dash into the shower to do damage control; so what did I do instead?
I spent the whole car ride there (thank you traffic!) soaking my hair with my spritz then tying my now mangled twist-out into a crown puff to keep most of my hair out of the water. Lucky for me, my wonderful husband was such a good sport and did most of the swimming so I could just sit back and relax and enjoy the good food and great company.

For those of you planning to swim with your hair open, here are some tips to help minimise the effect of chlorine on your hair:

1. Prepoo: (optional) If you can, prepoo overnight with coconut oil. This is especially important if you swim regularly and if you will be shampooing your hair straight after your swim.
2. Saturate with water: Just before you swim, soak your hair thoroughly with tap water. This leaves less opportunity for your hair to absorb chlorinated water.
3. Apply conditioner: Generously apply conditioner to your hair, making sure all your strands are covered. This conditions your hair while you are swimming.
4. Seal with an oil: Apply a light oil to seal out the water and seal in the good stuff. Any oil will do if you are swimming for a short period but ideally you want to use a non-penetrative oil like jojoba, almond or grapeseed.
5. Protect your ends: If you hair is long enough, tuck away your ends in a bun or flat twists. This also helps prevent tangling.
6. Rinse: After swimming, ALWAYS rinse off conditioner straight away, apply a leave-in and seal. However, tempting as it may be to just laze around on your sun lounger after a swim, the longer the chlorine sits in your hair, the dryer it will be so the sooner you rinse, the better.
7. Shampoo: If you swim regularly, wash hair weekly with a chelating shampoo. Locally available are Kinky Curly Come Clean (email Elisheba  Muturi on and  Tints of Nature Sulfate free shampoo from Healthy U. Some can be a little drying but they remove any mineral buildup from hair, also useful if you live in a hard water area.
8. Use a swim cap: If you are worried about prolonged exposure to chlorine, it may be worthwhile buying a swim cap. I am yet to meet a swim cap that looks good on anyone and they all seem to let water in around the hairline but they do keep water off the bulk of the hair.
9. Limit sun damage: The sun can be very drying on your hair, coupled with the exposure to chlorine.
- Different oils offer different degrees of sun protection, with shea butter being the highest, but at an equivalent of factor 6, it is not that high.
- Scarf it up. Scarves tied over your hair keep the sun's rays off your hair and can be used on your sun-lounger to protect your hair rubbing against the cotton fabric. Cue strange looks. This natural hair business means you need to develop a thick skin.  
10. Trim: I would recommend getting a trim after a long swimming holiday to get rid of any damaged ends. 

This may all seem like overkill but I we were recently on holiday and I don't think my hair would have survived three weeks of twice daily swimming otherwise. 

1 comment:

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