Chlorine for Hair: Dangerous Effects & How to Protect

There’s nothing better than relaxing in a pool on a hot day to refresh your body and mind, don’t you think? We feel like spending the entire day in the water! However, we only notice how dry and dull our skin and hair are after the summer holidays are over. Have you ever wondered why that happens? The answer is, the Chlorine in the water!

Greenish-yellow in color and a gas formulation, as well as being a powerful sanitization agent, chlorine is also used to purify the water in pools to protect us from possible infections and other diseases. However, despite that protection, it can have side effects on our skin and hair, since it can remove the natural protective oils from the scalp – and therefore, from the hair – and skin.

Do you want to know the dangerous effects of chlorine on skin and hair and how to avoid them? Then, keep reading and let us show you the best tips to look beautiful and hydrated again after the summer!


What Does Chlorine Do To Your Hair?

You already learned about how the mix of chlorine and water can be dangerous if you spend too long in the pool. Now it’s time to understand the damages it can cause to your hair and skin if you don’t take due care before and after the first dive.

To understand the action of water and chlorine in our locks, the first thing you must understand is that the mixture can oxidize the hair protein and cuticles, making them dull and tangled, two main traits of dryness. When the sebum that protects your hair is removed from the scalp, there is the oxidation of the hair cuticles and the protein present on the strands.

With that, the cortex (inner layer of the hair strand) becomes vulnerable, since it’s protected by the cuticle. Water and chlorine manage to penetrate the cortex, causing dryness and dandruff. Also, since proteins are also oxidized by the mixture and are cut and broken in small pieces, other damage to our locks after swimming in a pool are also visible, such as:

  • Hair loss
  • Brittle hair
  • Dull and damaged hair
  • Cortex division, causing the dreaded split ends
  • Lack of gloss

In the skin, the mix of water and chlorine decreases the normal microbiota due to its bactericide effect. That means, after spending a long time in the pool, you may decrease the number of microorganisms that are naturally present in your skin, affecting its protection and causing issues like itchiness, rashes, and dryness. That happens because chlorine acts as a type of solvent that dilutes the hydrolipidic mantle of the skin, that is made of natural oils and minerals with greasy power that helps keep the skin moisturized.

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How to Protect Hair from Chlorine?

Care for Skin

Skin requires specific care when you go in and out of the pool. With that care, you can swim and not worry about having a dry skin after coming back from the holidays. Check it out:


Before Going to The Pool

Avoid scrubs:

Skin scrubs are not recommended if you intend to swim in a pool. That is because it removes the natural protective layer of the skin, making it more sensitive to chlorine damage. So, no exfoliating soaps or lotions that remove the skin oiliness before going swimming.


Rely on sunscreen:

using sunscreen before the pool

Also, you can use sunscreen, that as well as protecting the skin from the sun, will also be useful to replenish the lost water due to the contact with chlorine if it has a creamy texture and made with moisturizing agents.


Use ceramide and liposome:

Applying products based on these nutrients before jumping in the pool can prevent damage caused by the mix of water and chlorine, keeping your skin protected. That is because liposomes work by wrapping the skin, not allowing it to be in touch with chlorine, while ceramide retains the water, working as a protective layer.


Drink water:

If you’re swimming in a heated pool, it’s good to be aware that your body temperature will rise, so you’re at risk of dehydration. Dehydration affects the quality of skin tissue, making it more prone to chlorine damage. Therefore, drink lots of water before leaving home.


After Getting Out of The Pool

Take a shower with running water:

Dermatologists recommend using running water to remove the chlorine residue every time you leave the pool.



moisturise skin after the pool

The trick to protecting the skin and avoiding dryness after the pool is moisturizing. By doing that, you won’t have to deprive yourself of swimming in a pool, as long as you pay extra attention to daily care for your skin.

When you make a bigger effort with your skin’s moisturizing routine, you can replenish the lipid layer affected by the mixture of water and chlorine, restoring its glow and elasticity. Also, moisturizing the skin will be key to avoiding issues like itchiness and rash caused by the pool water.

To do that, you can use moisturizing creams with aloe vera or chamomile, that restore the skin protection against chlorine and other chemicals and help soothe the skin at the same time.

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Before Going to The Pool

Get your hair wet:

A key tip if you’re jumping in the pool is getting your hair wet with chlorine-free water before the first dip. The idea is soaking up your hair and keeping the mixture of water and chlorine from damaging your hair.


Apply a protective hairspray:

using hairspray before the pool

Another secret recommended by hair specialists is using leave-in conditioners and thermal protectors before going into the pool to seal the strands, making it more difficult for the contact with water and chlorine to happen.

However, since most clubs and gyms forbid the use of those products for hygiene reasons, you can use hairsprays with sunscreen and vitamin E, that help to waterproof your hair.


 Always use ends repairing product:

Prevention is better than cure! Since the ends are most affected by chlorine action after the pool, reversing the damage afterward can be difficult if they’re not well cared for in the first place. So, always apply a good ends repairer to keep them moisturized and more prepared for the contact with chlorine water.


After Getting Out of The Pool

Immediately wash your hair:

The best secret to keeping your hair healthy after swimming in pools is not giving chlorine time to act. So, as soon as you leave the water, wash your hair so they’re not at risk of dryness for being exposed to chlorine even longer. At this moment, it’s a good idea to apply an anti-residue shampoo (if you haven’t had any chemical treatment done) to eliminate any trace of chlorine from your hair.



moisturising hair after the pool

Just like with your skin, moisturizing is also a great ally in fighting hair damage caused by chlorine after the swim. Moisturize your hair at least once a week, with moisturizing masks and hair treatment vials with instant effects.



If moisturizing the hair doesn’t help to recover the strands from the chlorine aggression, it’s recommended, in the last case scenario, doing a hair cauterization, which is only a quick recovery treatment for damaged, dry and brittle hair. Also called the “hair plastic surgery”, or even “Hair ICU”, it helps to avoid the loss of nutrients and vitamins.


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Water and Chlorine: The Dangerous mixture

chlorine effects on skin and hair

Even though many people believe the chlorine is the main cause of skin and hair dryness, in fact, it’s its joint action with water that causes the damages. What happens is that water penetrates the keratin cells, swelling them up. That leaves small openings on the skin layer, making it vulnerable to chlorine, which then causes the irritation.

It’s the same with the hair. Water works by opening the hair cuticles, allowing chlorine inside, making them extremely dry, prone to damage like dullness, breakage and hair loss, as well as the so feared dandruff. On the other hand, despite the effects of that dangerous mixture, dermatologists warn that it can only harm our skin and hair when we leave them exposed for too long, in other words, when we stay in the water for a long time.

So, write down our first tip for the summer holidays: instead of spending the entire day in the pool, it’s best to just plunge into the pool and then get out of the water to avoid irritation and dryness of the skin and scalp, ok?


However, note this: it’s only recommended for those with incredibly damaged hair that is very brittle, because, otherwise it can cause the so-called “rebound effect”, making them even drier and prone to breaking because of the overload of nutrients and proteins the cauterization offers.

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