How I'm Keeping Chlorine-Damaged Hair to a Minimum This Summer

Posted 07/21/11 at 04:47PM by Audrey Fine

You'd think that I'd had enough hair trauma to last me for a while -- what with my drastic pixie cut, then my red dye fiasco -- but no, apparently not.

As you regular readers know, my 9-year-old daughter has long (we're talking down-to-her-butt-never-been-cut long), blonde hair. Sure, it's beautiful and, yes, people stop us on the street and ask her to sing that song from "Tangled," but that enviable head of hair just so happens to have an insatiable thirst for chlorine. So much so that if I left it alone and let her just be on her merry way this summer, we'd have two pixied heads in this house come fall.

Because I'm not about to let that happen, I spend more time than I'd like to admit keeping her hair from turning green and coarse. It's not rocket science, but keeping those pesky, positively charged mineral deposits from glomming on to her hair's negatively charged follicles does take a little savoir faire. So, if you, or someone you love too much to let walk around looking like Smurfette, need tips on keeping your summer hair damage to a minimum, you've come to the right place. Here's my tried and true plan of attack ...

Step 1: Wet It: Never go into a pool with dry hair. You always want to get your hair wet before diving in -- porous hair follicles can only soak up so much, and if you saturate them with chlorine-free water beforehand, they won't be able to absorb much of the bad stuff.

Step 2: Protect It: Create a barrier between hair and the pool's chemicals by further shielding the follicles. Any old deep conditioner works fine and there's really no need to shell out money for a specifically designed "swim barrier."

Step 3: Banish Bad Guys: When you get home from your day of swimming, wash hair with a chelating shampoo or one that contains EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid), which will neutralize the trace minerals found in pools (and lakes and oceans). I love Pantene Pro-V Clarifying Shampoo, $5.99. (Pssst. If your hair's chemically treated, a friend told me that her secret is to add 1/4 cup of baking soda to her regular shampoo. She swears this old recipe keeps her color truer longer when she's swimming all summer.)

Step 4: Condition Till The Cows Come Home: If you swim a lot, you can never condition too much. I use Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx Reparative Conditioner, $24, on my kid's hair -- without fully rinsing it out at the end -- and it works wonderfully.

And, there you have it; your recipe for great, green-free hair. Now, watch this video for tips on beating the summer heat with great hairstyles.
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1-6 of 6 Comments

  • Posted by EricaF123 on 04/13/13 at 03:37pm

    Nice

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  • Posted by beautybody on 03/26/12 at 09:34am

    I have heard of using conditioner as a barrier before and it is a great tip.

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  • Posted by powerwoman033 on 03/13/12 at 05:01pm

    Thank you! I will be using these tips this summer!

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by taryn.romero on 10/05/11 at 10:30am

    Very interesting but it makes sense if you think about it.

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  • Posted by MissPurple on 07/27/11 at 02:26pm

    Great tips, thanks!

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  • Posted by LipglossandSpandex on 07/21/11 at 05:15pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I'm going on vacation in a week and will be spending a lot of time in/by the pool. Your article came out just in time--now I'll remember to bring my leave in conditioner!

    Report Abuse

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