Pool Water vs. Salt Water: What to Know Before You Dive In


Swimming is one of our favorite summer pastimes, whether we're at the beach or poolside. Nothing beats cooling off in the water with friends and family on a hot day. 

But what does all of that pool water and salt water do to our hair? Is seawater good for our hair? How can we protect our hair from pool water? 

Salt water and pool water impact our hair in different ways, so it's important to know how each affects your hair. Prepping your locks for a day of swimming—no matter the type of water—will help ensure your hair stays healthy and vibrant! 

Keep reading to learn how to protect your hair from pool water and salt water, along with how each one affects your tresses!


Is Salt Water Good for My Hair?


A little salt water can be good for your hair in moderation, and it can give you the gorgeous, tousled "beach waves" that are super in right now! But exposing your hair to seawater regularly can leave you with dry, brittle locks. 

Salt water pulls moisture out of your hair, leaving it with rough, raised cuticles and a straw-like feeling. When your hair is dry, it's more susceptible to breakage and split ends. It's also difficult to gently detangle salt water–exposed hair, which adds to the potential for breakage. 

But the news isn't all bad! Salt water can be good for your hair and scalp, especially if you suffer from symptoms of scalp psoriasis. In one study, products containing Dead Sea salt—specifically magnesium salts—improved skin itching and inflammation over placebo. If you're suffering from scalp psoriasis, a good soak in the ocean might just help because magnesium salts can be found there, too. Just be sure to apply salt water to your hair and scalp in moderation (and wash it out thoroughly afterwards) to prevent drying out your tresses this summer!


How Does Pool Water Affect My Hair?


Pool water contains chlorine, which dries out our hair by stripping it of its natural oils. Without the natural oils our scalps produce, our hair becomes dry, brittle and more susceptible to split ends and breakage. Chlorine can also bond with the copper in pool water, and this reaction is what causes lighter locks to turn green. 

So, why do pools contain chlorine? 

Chlorine is a chemical that kills bacteria that cause illnesses and infections in humans, including salmonella, swimmer's ear and E. Coli. Your tap water even contains tiny amounts of chlorine for sanitation purposes. Chlorine also helps keep still pool water clean and free of algae, and it prevents the pool water from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.


How Can I Protect My Hair from Pool Water and Salt Water?


It's important to use a physical barrier and hydrating hair-care products to effectively protect your hair from pool water and salt water. Here are 5 ways you can protect your hair from pool chemicals and salt at your next swim session.


1. Wear a Swim Cap

For maximum protection for your hair from pool water and salt water, pack a swim cap in your bag before your next pool day or trip to the beach! Be sure to choose a non-damaging swim cap, and opt for a swim cap designed specifically for long hair, no matter your hair length. These caps have more room and create less damaging friction on your hair and scalp!


2. Apply a Deep Conditioning Treatment

Before you jump into the pool or hit the waves, treat your hair to some TLC and apply a luxe, ultra-hydrating hair mask like our Hair Redemption Restorative Hair Masque to seal moisture into your hair strands and prevent the absorption of dehydrating pool chemicals and salt. Hair Redemption uses five plant-based butters to rehydrate parched hair and restore silkiness and elasticity! 

Pro tip: Exposure to UV rays can cause light-colored hair to turn brassy. To help prevent yellow tones while protecting your hair, try a butter mask infused with D&C Violet 2 like our Silver Linings Purple Butter Masque! The D&C Violet 2 optical color agent helps keep blonde and silver shades true to color, while the proprietary plant-based butter blend melts into your tresses to hydrate and repair mature hair!


3. Rinse Your Hair Thoroughly Before Jumping In

This one goes hand in hand with your deep conditioning treatment! Once you’ve applied your hair mask, thoroughly rinse your hair. Letting your hair absorb the deep conditioner and plenty of cool, clean water will leave less space for pool chemicals and salt to soak into your strands.


4. Keep Your Head Above Water

This one’s pretty clear! If you’re just wading around the shallow end of the pool or the edge of the ocean, you can protect your hair from pool water and salt water by not getting your head wet. We still recommend deep conditioning and thoroughly rinsing your hair with fresh water before getting into the pool or ocean to be safe. (Who knows how much you might get splashed by unruly pool mates or rough waves!) 

Of course, keeping your hair out of the water is harder to do with longer hair than it is with short hair. But hard doesn’t mean impossible! If you’re rocking long locks at the pool this summer, try putting your hair into a knot bun for a chic, pool-friendly updo! 

To create the look: Gather your hair into two low ponytails, about 2 to 3 inches above the nape of your neck. Gently tie the two pieces together as you would to form a knot. Repeat, tying the pieces once more. Secure ends with a soft hair tie or with bobby pins. Fluff to style, and you’re done. Easy-peasy hair protection!


5. Wash Your Hair After Swimming to Remove Salt and Chlorine

If you didn’t wear a swim cap in the water, it’s important to wash your hair as soon as possible with a sulfate-free repairing shampoo to minimize the amount of time your tresses spend exposed to residual pool chemicals and salt. We trust our Second Chance Repairing Duo shampoo and conditioner to restore moisture, repair damage and strengthen our hair, no matter what stress we put it through! 


Tell Us: How do you protect your hair from pool water and salt water during the summer? Share your tips in the comments below! 

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Better Not Younger has all your poolside and seaside hair needs covered! From moisturizing and repairing shampoo and conditioner to luxe butter masks, we have everything you need to care for mature hair and keep it looking healthy and vibrant all summer long!