Excited for Pool Season? Here Are 9 Powerful, Science-Proven Tips To Protect Your Hair From Chlorine Damage

WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated
Summer is here, and you're eager for a swim! But taking a dip, whether in the pool or the sea, doesn’t come without consequences. We’ve already discussed how sea water can affect your hair if you’re not careful, so now let’s take a look at how chlorine in pool water can impact your strands.


A study found that 61% of swimmers get hair damage. [1] This is because chlorine strips away the hair's protective layer, resulting in lifeless and weak locks.

Luckily, there are ways to protect your hair from chlorine. These allow you to enjoy the pool without damaging your hair. Read on to learn:

How Does Chlorine Affect Your Hair?

Chlorine is a strong chemical that makes your hair [2]:

  • Weak. A study found that chlorine can dissolve hair in only four hours. [3] This is because chlorine breaks down hair proteins and damages its core structure.
  • Dry. Chlorine strips away your hair's natural oils, making your hair look dull.
  • Change colour. It reacts with the pigments in your hair, turning dark brown hair redder and blonde hair more yellow.
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Evidence-Backed Tips to Protect Your Hair From Chlorine Damage

Protecting your hair from chlorine is easier than you might think. Here are some science-backed tips to keep your hair healthy and strong.

Tip 1: Rinse Hair with Fresh Water Before Entering the Pool

Rinsing your hair with fresh water before swimming fills it with clean water. This helps block chlorine from getting into your hair. One study [2,4] found that participants' hair was healthier when they followed this practice.

Tip 2: Apply a Protective Layer

Applying a conditioner before entering the pool can protect your hair from chlorine damage.

Hair is covered by a protective layer called 18-MEA, a fatty acid that creates a hydrophobic surface and acts as a boundary lubricant to reduce friction resistance between hair fibers. [13] It stops your hair from soaking up too much chlorine, which would make it weak. But daily life can damage this layer.

Luckily, studies [5] show that conditioners can replace the protective 18-MEA layer, helping to shield hair from chlorine.

Tip 3: Wear a Swim Cap

Wearing a swim cap reduces hair exposure to chlorine. Studies [6] show that caps lower chlorine contact with your hair. Thus, less chlorine enters the hair. This is true even with caps that allow some water in.

Tip 4: Tie Long Hair

Tying long hair before swimming can reduce the hair's chlorine exposure.

When your hair is loose, it tends to soak up more chlorinated water, leading to chlorine buildup and hair damage. But, if your hair is in a ponytail, braid, or bun, less chlorine can enter it.

Tip 5: Opt for Outdoor Pools

Swimming in outdoor pools can cut your exposure to harmful chlorine.

Chlorine helps keep pools clean. But its use creates by-products such as chloramines, which can be harmful. Studies [7] have shown that these chemicals build up in pool water over time. This happens especially in indoor pools, where there is less ventilation.

Outdoor pools have better air flow. Also, sunlight helps break down some by-products, resulting in less chemical build up. This reduces your hair's exposure to harmful chemicals.

Tip 6: Rinse Your Hair Immediately After Swimming

After swimming, rinse your hair to remove chlorine. Otherwise, it can stay and make your hair dry and weak.

But finding the right hair-washing balance is crucial. Washing too often can damage your hair too. Research [7,8] shows that washing your hair 5–6 times a week is ideal.

Tip 7: Deep Condition Regularly

Regular deep conditioning with oils helps restore hair health and shine. [4] This is especially true after exposure to chlorine.

Chlorine strips your hair of its natural oils, which regular conditioning can help replenish. This reduces friction between hair strands, making the surface smoother.

Studies [9] show that coconut oil is particularly effective. It can penetrate hair and reduce protein loss. This is crucial for keeping your hair strong and healthy.

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Tip 8: Use a detangling brush

You can reduce hair loss after a swim by using a detangling brush.

A study [10] showed that brushing wet hair led to increased hair loss because wet hair is more fragile. It can break easily, especially if combed from tip to root.

Luckily, using a detangling brush can reduce hair loss. [11] This is due to its wide spacing and rounded tips.

Tip 9: Focus on Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential for healthy hair. [12] Eating the right foods can:

  • Protect your hair from damage. This is because some nutrients contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off harmful chemicals that can build up in the body and damage hair.
  • Support hair strength. Eating enough of the right vitamins and minerals is crucial for hair strength and resilience. When our diet lacks certain nutrients, our hair can get

While nutrition doesn’t directly fight damage caused by chlorine, by eating a balanced diet you can support your hair’s strength making it more resilient against environmental stressors.


You can protect your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine by following a combination preventative measures minimising exposure and some simple aftercare steps outlined above.

For even more support, make sure that you have a hair care routine that keeps your hair happy and resilient against adversities such as chlorine.

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.