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How to Protect Hair from Chlorine? Athletes Guide


As athletes, we know the importance of staying active in the pool, but prolonged exposure to chlorine can wreak havoc on our hair. This guide offers essential tips and tricks to shield your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine, including pre-swim preparations, the best hair care products, and post-swim treatments to maintain healthy, luscious locks. Say goodbye to dry, brittle hair and embrace a chlorine-proof hair care routine, allowing you to focus on your performance while keeping your hair looking and feeling its best.


For more information on the benefits of showering after a workout read our blog post Showering After Workout and learn how this simple step might be the answer to all of your troubles.

Let's dive in and discover how to protect and preserve our hair's natural beauty while enjoying our favorite water-based activities!


How does chlorine work?


Chlorine is commonly used in pools as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can thrive in pool water. Its primary purpose is to maintain a safe and hygienic swimming environment, preventing the spread of waterborne illnesses among swimmers.

When chlorine is added to pool water, it undergoes a chemical reaction that forms hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ions. These compounds work as powerful oxidizing agents, breaking down organic matter like sweat, urine, and other contaminants introduced by swimmers. As a result, chlorine destroys harmful microorganisms, effectively sanitizing the pool water.

While chlorine is crucial for pool sanitation, it also has drawbacks. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can lead to skin and hair issues, including dryness, itchiness, and hair damage. As a preventive measure, swimmers should take steps to protect their hair and skin, such as using pre-swim products, rinsing off with fresh water after swimming, and washing with a specialized shampoo.


What chlorine does do to your hair?


Chlorine can have detrimental effects on hair due to its oxidative properties. When hair comes into contact with chlorine-treated pool water, the chlorine molecules bind to the hair shaft, causing the cuticles (outer protective layer) to lift. This allows the chlorine to penetrate the hair, leading to the removal of natural oils and proteins, resulting in dryness and brittleness.

Moreover, chlorine can strip the hair of its pigment, causing color-treated hair to fade over time. The combination of chlorine exposure and sun exposure can exacerbate these effects. In some hair colors, chlorine can cause the hair to have a green hue.

Repeated exposure to chlorine can lead to long-term damage, making the hair more prone to breakage and split ends. Additionally, porous and damaged hair may be more susceptible to tangling and becoming unmanageable.

Regular deep conditioning treatments can help restore moisture and repair damage caused by chlorine exposure.


Does chlorine turn your hair green?


Yes, chlorine exposure can turn some people's hair green, especially those with hair-treated, light-colored, or blonde hair. The green tint is not directly caused by chlorine itself but by the presence of copper in the water. Copper can be introduced to the pool water through the plumbing or algaecides containing copper.

When chlorine reacts with copper, it can create copper chloride compounds, which have a green color. These compounds can then attach to the hair cuticle, resulting in a greenish hue.

To prevent green hair, it's essential to use a clarifying or chelating shampoo after swimming to remove any copper or chlorine residues from the hair. a shampoo for swim and sweat is a specialized shampoo that has disodium and tetrasodium EDTA which rinses harsh chemicals, including copper, preventing future damage to the hair shaft and your scalp. 

Who is at risk for chlorine damage?

Individuals who spend significant time in chlorinated water, such as swimmers and frequent pool-goers, are at risk for chlorine hair damage

Those with light-colored or blonde hair may be more susceptible to the greenish tint caused by copper compounds in the water. 

Additionally, people with porous or chemically treated hair, such as color-treated or permed hair, are more prone to chlorine-related damage. 

The hair's health and condition also play a role; already damaged or dry hair is more likely to suffer from the drying effects of chlorine. 

How to protect hair from chlorine?


Protecting hair from chlorine requires proactive measures before, during, and after swimming. Before swimming, wet the hair and apply a leave-in conditioner or oil to create a protective barrier. Consider wearing a swim cap to minimize hair exposure to chlorine.

After swimming, rinse hair immediately with fresh water to remove chlorine and pool chemicals. Use a chelating shampoo like a shampoo for swim and sweat to eliminate any chlorine residue, sweat, and debris in your scalp, and follow with a moisturizing conditioner for your hair ends to replenish lost moisture. 

Do not apply conditioner on your scalp as it causes hair loss due to its more oily composition and doesn’t offer an advantage for hair nourishment. Incorporate weekly deep conditioning treatments to nourish and repair the hair.

Limit heat styling and avoid harsh chemical treatments to prevent further hair stress. With these protective steps, swimmers can enjoy their time in the pool while preserving their hair's health and luster.


How to treat chlorine-damaged hair?


Treating chlorine-damaged hair involves restoring moisture to the hair cuticles and repairing the hair's structure.


Start by using a shampoo for a swim and sweat to remove chlorine, sweat, and regular build-up. Its formula works to repair and strengthen damaged strands, leaving hair smoother, softer, and more manageable. With the addition of UV protection, it shields the hair from harmful sun exposure, ensuring it stays vibrant and healthy even after prolonged outdoor activities.

Follow with a deep conditioning treatment to replenish lost moisture and nourish the hair cuticle to avoid frizz.

Regularly trim the ends to remove any split or damaged ends. Consider using leave-in conditioners or hair oils to provide extra hydration and protection. Incorporate protein treatments to strengthen the hair's structure.

Avoid heat styling and harsh chemical treatments to prevent further damage. Be patient, as it may take time to repair chlorine-damaged hair. With consistent care and gentle hair practices, the hair can gradually regain its health, shine, and resilience.

For more information on the benefits of a shampoo designed for athletes read our blog post Best Shampoo for Swimmers and Other Athletes and learn the importance of cleansing your hair with the perfect shampoo.


Can Chlorine cause hair loss?


There is no direct scientific evidence to suggest that chlorine alone causes permanent hair loss. However, prolonged exposure to chlorine and other pool chemicals, combined with other factors, may contribute to hair issues.

Chlorine can lead to dryness, brittleness, and damage to the hair, which can cause temporary hair shedding or breakage. Additionally, intense physical or emotional stress, which may occur during swimming or other physical activities, can lead to a type of temporary hair loss called Telogen Effluvium. To learn more about this condition you can read this article by The Cleveland Clinic


It's essential to practice proper hair care and take preventive measures, such as eating a balanced diet with vegetables and fruits, using pre-swim hair protectants, rinsing hair with fresh water before and after swimming, and wearing swim caps to minimize hair exposure to chlorine and other pool chemicals. If concerned about hair loss, consulting a trichologist (hair specialist dermatologist) or dermatologist can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate guidance or treatment.


In conclusion, chlorine can have various effects on hair, ranging from dryness and brittleness to discoloration and frizziness. Prolonged exposure to chlorine-treated water, especially for frequent swimmers, can lead to significant damage and changes in hair texture. 

The risk of green discoloration is higher for individuals with treated, light-colored, or blonde hair due to the presence of copper in the water. To protect hair from chlorine damage, it's crucial to adopt preventive measures, such as using pre-swim hair protectants, rinsing with fresh water after swimming, and employing specialized shampoos and deep conditioning treatments. By implementing these strategies, individuals can maintain healthier, more vibrant hair while enjoying their time in the pool.

Avanza Skin’s a shampoo for swim and sweat is a high-quality shampoo that is dermatologist-recommended and contains the specific ingredients to clear away harsh chemicals and sweat and protect, nourish, and strengthen to prevent future damage.

Avanza Skin has products to prevent and treat athletes' hair issues. Find the right products that meet your skin and hair needs - in less than a minute. Take our quiz to find out!