Chlorine vs. hair colour, round 1

Last Tuesday, I finally dove in. Being back in the water felt great, and I’ll be returning to the pool


Last Tuesday, I finally dove in. Being back in the water felt great, and I’ll be returning to the pool for round two on Wednesday.

Of course, being my first time back, not everything went entirely "swimmingly." First off, not being a morning person, getting there early before work was a bit of struggle for me, so naturally I arrived at the pool later than I intended, and ended up with only about 20 minutes in the water. Second, I was so eager to jump in the minute I walked out on deck that I completely forgot about the importance of stretching first‘that is, until my first two laps of whipkick reminded me with a sharp pain in my hamstrings. I also went straight into the fast lane, and in doing so tired myself out faster than I should have (although, since I only had a brief time in the pool before needing to hop out and head off to work, that wasn’t such a bad thing).

This outing was also a test round for another concern for me in getting back into swimming: how it would affect my hair. I’m a natural blonde masquerading as a redhead, and red dye fades fast enough as is without the added chemical exposure of being immersing in chlorine. (As a child, my white-blond hair would turn a lovely tint of pale green from absorbing so much chlorine while swimming.) The pool water would no doubt suck all the vibrancy out of my already high-maintenance colour.

Thankfully, with the help of a couple of experts, I’ve found a solution to protect my haircolour as much as possible. A new silicone swimcap, as insisted upon by my colourist, is the closest to watertight of the three kinds of swimcaps on the market (latex ones are thinner and less durable, and spandex/nylon caps and porous fabric designed only to keep hair out of your face).

In addition to the cap, I’m also taking the advice of hair and makeup artist Gregory Graveline, who I was speaking with at a recent press launch held by Kiehl’s: Before getting in the pool, wet hair with clean water and slather with a thick leave-in conditioner all over. This creates a built-in layer of protection around each hair strand. (Silicone caps are also easier to put on and stay on your head better when hair is wet, so this technique helps prevent it from slipping off in the water, too.) I’ve been using Kiehl’s Leave-In Hair Conditioner ($25.50, 125 mL), which will also be great for when I’m in hurry after my swim to get off to work without having to blow-dry my hair. Combing a little dab through damp hair after washing makes hair silky-soft when left to air dry.

Now that I’m finally back in the water, do any swimmers out there have suggestions for a routine you use when you swim? How many laps do you do each session? Do you stick to one stroke, or switch it up each lap?

Top 10 home hair colour tips
Home hair colour tips: Choosing the right colour and formula

Don’t miss a single Best Health Blog post’subscribe today via RSS or email!