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How to Protect Color-Treated Hair While Swimming

BY Alyssa Montemurro

It’s mid-July, which means by now you’ve likely already spent plenty of time soaking up the sun at the beach and hanging out poolside with your friends. Consequently, that can only mean one thing for your hair: we’re talking about damage and lots of it. While the sun, heat, and humidity can all wreak havoc on our delicate strands, when it comes to dealing with color-treated hair, nothing affects it quite like chlorine and salt water. That’s because like the sun’s damaging UV rays, chlorine and salt water tend to strip the hair of its natural moisture, leaving it feeling dry, brittle, and frizzy. But don’t worry— that doesn’t mean you need to give up on the pool just yet. Below, we’ve put together an in-depth guide on how to properly care for your color-treated hair at the pool, beach, and beyond. Feel free to dive right in—no color sacrificing necessary!

Oil Up

One of the biggest consequences of chlorine and salt water lies within its ability to strip moisture from your hair and cause things like split ends and damage. On top of that, chlorine and salt water also work to strip away shine and vibrancy from the hair, causing it to appear dull and lackluster. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your hair is well-protected even before you hit the water. An easy way to do so is to lather your hair in a rich oil, like argan or coconut, beforehand. The oil will help create a slippery barrier between your strands and the harmful water, while also providing an extra layer of moisture and nourishment.

Don’t Forget To Presoak

You know those outdoor showers often located at your local pool or beach? Use them! Wetting your hair with fresh, clean water before jumping into the pool makes it less likely that your hair will absorb any of the water, which can help prevent dryness and damage from occurring. At a friend’s house and don’t want to run all the way up to the shower? No sweat—a bottle of purified water works just fine.

Apply SPF To Your Hair

Just as your skin needs protection from the sun, so too does your hair. Enter: hair-specific sunscreens. Unlike your regular SPF, which is likely too heavy and greasy for your strands, these lightweight products are not only safe and easy to use on your hair, but also effective when it comes to blocking out the damaging effects of both the sun and chemically-treated water. The key is to look for products that contain both UVA and UVB filters, like our color protection and anti-aging hair goals. When added to your customizable shampoo, conditioner, or leave-in treatment formula, they can help fend off harsh rays and chemical damage, all while helping to extend the life of your color. Coola’s Organic Scalp & Hair Mist is also a great option if you’re looking for some added scalp protection. Just remember: the key to any SPF is to apply it early and often!

Put Your Hair Up

While a swim cap is perhaps the best way to protect your hair from the elements, we get that it’s not necessarily the most popular look. Should you prefer to take a dip sans cap then, we strongly recommend that you try to keep your head and hair out of the water as much as possible. A  ponytail, braid, or topknot can not only help prevent your strands from soaking in all of that damaging water but can also help to keep your hair looking fresh and cute no matter what the rest of the day throws at you. For five editor-approved beach day hairstyles that you can do in five minutes or less, head here!

Rinse It Out

When you’re done swimming for the day, be sure to rinse your hair out completely with clean water. It may sound redundant, but it’s important to take the time to wash away any chemicals or drying sea salt as they can continue to strip your hair’s color and moisture even after you’ve stepped out of the water. This is also a great time to apply a bit of our customized leave-in treatment to your hair, as it will help inject it with an added dose of moisture, nourishment, and color protection. For more on that, see below!

Shampoo + Condition The Right Way

If you take away one thing from this post, let it be this: the key to maintaining your vibrant color is to give your hair plenty of moisture and that all starts in the shower. What you use to shampoo and condition your hair matters, which is why we always recommend reaching for a color-safe option like our customizable hair care formulas. In addition to being 100% sulfate-free (an ingredient that is known to strip your hair of its moisture and color), our shampoos and conditioners also give you the option to add a number of color-enhancing hair goals to your formula, including color protection, anti-aging, deep condition, and shine, so you can keep your color looking bright and vibrant all year round. 

For blondes specifically (or even those with gray, bleached, or highlighted hair), we also recommend reaching for our purple toning shampoo, which can help rid your hair of any brassy tones and extend the life of color. That means less time at the salon and more time living your best color-treated life!

Remember To Deep Condition

If you thought your color-treated hair care routine ended in the shower, think again. All that time spent floating around the pool causes your hair to become parched and lifeless, which is why you need more than just a good conditioner to help bring it back to life. Enter, our customizable leave-in treatment. In addition to providing your hair with a hefty dose of long-lasting moisture and nourishment, it also forms a protective barrier around your strands to help block out those things that cause them to become dull, dry, and lackluster. Plus, like with all of our products, you’ll be able to choose the hair goals of your unique formula, which means you can add other things like anti-frizz, and strengthen to your leave-in treatment to give your hair an extra boost of their benefits all day long.

To customize your perfect hair care formula start by taking the hair quiz here!