Swimming loses its appeal when you have to deal with your child’s chemical-ridden, tangled hair. With a few preventative steps and a bit of follow-up care, you can avoid the gripes and tears that often accompany those post-swim comb-outs.
Allison Tyson is a second-generation swim instructor, former lifesaver and author of The Lush Long Hair Care Guide. “I know first-hand the importance of keeping hair from distracting and tangling when kids swim in the pool,” explains Tyson. “I don’t want to spend the entire class pulling hair out of goggles or having kids stopping to wipe hair from their eyes or swallowing their hair.”
Master stylist Janet St. Paul of Austin, Texas, recommends following these very simple steps to prevent swimmer’s hair:
It’s a good idea to make sure hair is knot-free before swimming, or you’ll end up with a serious mess afterward. The Knot Genie™ Detangling Brush smooths even the curliest, most knotted hair — gently and painlessly, resulting in less breakage, fewer split ends and happier children. $20 at KnotGenie.com.
“Before swimming, wet the hair and load it up with conditioner,” says St. Paul. “Comb or work the conditioner through the hair until it’s evenly saturated.” This step prevents chlorine from penetrating into the hair shaft.
“Chlorine is very damaging to hair as it can destroy much-needed proteins in the hair,” says Tyson, who also suggests conditioning with coconut oil. “Hair depleted of protein becomes brittle and very dry and, as a result, tangles more.”
Try Fairy Tales Coco Cabana Leave-In Sun Spray which is a rich conditioner. Spray on the hair liberally and comb through with fingers. Reapply after swimming. $11 at Ulta.com. For African-American hair, Nicole Hollis of HairLiberty.com, a comprehensive online resource for African American hair care information, likes John Frieda Frizz-Ease Original Serum. $10 at Walgreens.com.
“Braid the hair or twist it into a knot or ponytail,” says St. Paul.
Longer-haired swimmers: “Style their hair into either a single braid or two side ponytails, then plait and tie off at the bottom,” says Tyson.
Shorter-haired swimmers (and those with bangs): “Put on an elasticized hairband to keep hair out of the eyes, nose and mouth. Keep the headband in place by securing with bobby pins or goggle straps,” suggests Tyson.
Swim caps: “Swim caps are always an option, but they tend to slide off if not put on correctly,” says Tyson. “My tip for placing a swim cap on any head is to saturate your hair first.”
After swimming, remove the braid, knot, pony or swim cap. Wash — shampooing is important because rinsing alone will not remove chlorine — condition again and comb out as usual. Piece of cake!
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