The Unexpected Trick To Protect Your Hair From Pool Water This Summer

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Woman by the Pool
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Ever wondered why your hair turns crispy, frazzled, and fried come summer? Well, you can tip your sun hat to the scorching UV rays (yes, your hair can experience sun damage), but pool water also happens to be a common culprit. Most pools contain chlorine (even saltwater pools), which can yank precious oil and moisture from your strands and leave them strawlike. 

Not to mention, chlorine also produces a chemical reaction that can weaken the hair shaft—that's why those with color-treated hair (especially if there's bleaching involved) are ill-advised to continuously dunk their strands, as the reaction can dull the pigment. 

That's not to say you must sit out of the summer fun: According to a recent TikTok gem by hairstylist Matt Newman, just stash a conditioner in your pool tote before heading out for a dip. You're likely already hauling some sunscreen anyway (right?), and the extra bottle can save your strands from pool water woes. 

A hack to protect your hair from pool water. 

Behold, the hack: "If you want to protect your hair from chlorine in the pool, add a little conditioner to your hair," Newman says. "It's a great barrier from the chlorine on your hair." 

Why does this work? You see, while chlorine splits open the hair shaft and sucks out all the moisture, conditioners, by nature, help seal down the cuticle and add back hair-healthy nutrients. "Conditioner's role is to increase the moisture content of the hair and improve its elasticity, smooth the cuticle, and soften the hair fiber," writes hair consultant and trichologist Sarah Roberts about types of conditioners. It's like the antithesis of chlorine-ravaged hair—it keeps your strands soft, shiny, and healthy. 

In terms of which conditioner to use, you have options: Use a leave-in for easy application (as many come in spray nozzles); a rinse-out conditioner for tons of slip (especially helpful if your hair tends to become matted post-swim); or a deep conditioner if you really want to ramp up the nutrients. "Think of deep conditioners as a five-star meal for your hair," says Roberts. This fragrance-free, dermatologist-approved option from SEEN Hair Care fits the bill. 

At the pool, simply rake your product of choice through your strands before dunking. Newman applies his conditioner to wet locks, but you can saturate dry strands as well—in fact, it may be helpful to provide a protective coating before coming into contact with any chlorine. Or if it's easier to comb the conditioner through wet hair, you can always step under the shower spray for a hot minute and apply your conditioner there (just don't rinse it out!). 


The takeaway. 

Here's your pool day essentials checklist: sunscreen (first and foremost), towel, sunglasses...conditioner? According to Newman, the product seals in moisture while creating a barrier between the pool water and your hair. It's an easy tip that truly makes a difference on crispy strands.

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