Swimming is an activity that is prevalent in your child’s life.
This could be because of the summer, going on vacation, or your child taking swimming as a sport.
If your child has curly hair they cannot simply jump in the water, get out and call it a day.
Curly hair is very vulnerable when wet.
However, this should not deter your kids from enjoying the water.
But you might be scratching your own head trying to figure out how to protect hair while swimming, and what methods are realistic and kid-friendly?
One of the main reasons why we need to protect curly hair while swimming is because of chlorine and pool chemicals found in pools and the salt water found in the ocean.
Chlorine is a bleach used in swimming pools to treat the water and kill any bacteria. Nonetheless, chlorine can be damaging to the hair. It strips the hair of its natural oil (sebum) and dries out all the moisture from the hair.
Other pool chemicals are used to treat the water that may cause irritation to the scalp.
Additionally, continuous exposure to chlorinated water will weaken the hair and cause the curls to break.
Salty water is found in oceans. Salt is known to draw water out.
So what happens when your child goes swimming in the ocean?
The salt in the ocean will draw out the moisture from their curly hair and leave their curls dehydrated, weak, dry, brittle, and more prone to damage.
Everyone, especially children should enjoy swimming.
But their hair is highly susceptible to split ends, breakage, fair knots, and damage if not prepared before dipping in the water.
We have provided below a detailed guide on how to prepare and protect your child’s curly hair before swimming.
This post is all about how to protect hair while swimming.
1. HAVE A CONSISTENT HEALTHY HAIR ROUTINE
This is paramount as explained earlier, swimming can be damaging to the hair.
If your child is an active swimmer continuous exposure to the pool water can be damaging to their curls.
Therefore, it is important to have a consistent curly hair routine that will keep their hair strands strong and able to withstand the chlorine.
Healthy strong curls will less likely be prone to breakage and excessive dryness from swimming.
Swimming with damaged curls will likely cause further deterioration to the weak curls.
2. THOROUGHLY WET CURLY HAIR WITH WATER BEFORE THEY SWIM
This is an essential step in protecting your child’s hair.
Soak the hair with fresh clean water for 2-5 minutes (depending on your child’s hair porosity) before letting them in the water.
Hair is porous.
This means the hair cuticles can only allow a limited amount of water or products into the hair strands before discarding any excess.
With the curls thoroughly drenched in water little to no room is left for chlorine, pool chemicals, or salty water to penetrate into the hair shaft.
A minimal amount of harmful substances in the hair will prevent dryness or damage to the curly strands.
If you enter the swimming pool with dry hair your hair will absorb a lot of chlorine /pool chemicals that will dry out and possibly weaken the hair.
3. USE A CONDITIONER BEFORE SWIMMING
Conditioners are important for those who have curly hair.
Curly hair is naturally dry compared to other hair types due to the long time taken by the sebum to reach the hair strands.
With naturally curly hair prone to excess dryness during swimming, you want to use a conditioner prior to their swim and after.
Go for a rinse-out conditioner which will effectively hydrate the hair.
Using conditioners will minimize the amount of dryness the hair will experience post swimming as a barrier is created with the moisture from the conditioner.
The hair will not be too dry after swimming.
4. PROTECTIVE HAIRSTYLES
Your child’s hair is safer and protected when in a protective style rather than opened.
Protective styling will ensure less tangling that can be easily caused during swimming.
Chlorine/ salty water will cause the hair to dry out and cause a lot of matting or tangling.
You want to maintain the health of your kids’ curly hair and prevent breakage.
Go for styles such as flat twists, high buns, chunky braids, or 2-French braids.
Box braid and cornrows are great when taking the kids on vacation and you expect your child to spend long periods of time in the water.
Always opt for hairstyles that will keep the ends tucked away.
5. COAT THE CURLY HAIR WITH OIL
Using oil is perfect for adding a protective layer to the curly strands.
Oils will shield the hair from potential damage, act as a lubricant and nourish the hair.
Oils will prevent chlorine water or salty water from getting into the curly hair strands. Go for light oils such as jojoba oil, almond oil, or Argan oil which will not weigh the hair down.
Additionally, these oils contain amazing properties to protect and maintain the health of natural hair.
Argan oil is a great oil that not only forms a protective layer around the hair strands, sealing the moisture but it also contains natural ingredients that will protect the hair from harmful UV rays.
Your child’s curly hair will be exposed to the sun while swimming.
You never want your child to go swimming with tangled hair. It will be a nightmare trying to untangle the matting that will be created.
To avoid more tangling, maintain hairs manageability and prevent breakage by detangling hair before swimming. Use a wide-tooth comb and gently tangle the hair.
Best to put the hair in a low-maintenance style after tangling to reduce further tangling when swimming.
Detangling the curly strands should also be done post swimming.
The less knotted the hair is the less likely the hair to get split ends, fairy knots, or even break.
Remember that the hair is extremely vulnerable and it’s weakest when wet so detangle gently with a conditioner.
7. SWIM CAP
Swim caps are great accessories for your kids.
They are able to protect their hair from getting wet and furthermore stop chlorine/ pool chemicals from getting into contact
with the hair. If the swim cap is not protecting the hair from getting wet your child is better off without one.
People with natural hair have often avoided swimming caps as they always feel too tight, especially for those with thick curly hair.
There are now new swimming caps designed specially designed for mixed curly hair.
Additionally, forget the cheap swim caps and invest in high-quality swim caps that are comfortable, can accommodate your kid’s voluminous curly hair, and will protect the hair.
Swim caps can be made from either silicone or latex. Always go for silicone swim caps.
They are soft when touched very gently on the hair and can accommodate thick curly hair that will not roll up and tag your hair.
Latex swim caps sometimes pull up and tag baby hairs and cause breakage to the hairline.
Silicone swim caps are ideal for those with long curly hair, are easy to put on and off, are much thicker than latex, and are much more long-lasting.
8. RINSE WITH CLEAN WATER
Once your child is done swimming the first thing they should do is rinse their hair with clean water.
You want to remove as much salty/ chlorine water on their curly hair as possible.
This will prevent continuous damage to occur which will weaken the hair and cause damage to the tresses.
Never allow the hair to dry out after getting out of the pool.
9. USE SHAMPOO
Shampooing the hair once the child is done swimming is extremely vital in protecting the hair and maintaining its health.
The shampoo (like this one) will be able to get rid of any impurities and strip out the salt/chlorine out of the hair.
Also, any other excess deposits such as chemicals and build-up will be removed.
Shampooing the hair is essential for the health of the scalp.
You want the pores to be clog-free as this will ensure nutrients get to the follicles and ensure maintenance and growth of the curly hair.
It will also prevent any pool chemicals from irritating or damaging the scalp.
10. DEEP CONDITIONING THE HAIR
Deep conditioners are specifically formulated to restore the hair’s moisture levels.
They are important to be used post-swim as the hair is dry.
A deep conditioner will retain the health of your child’s curly hair, and strengthen and repair any damage to the curls.
A deep conditioner will penetrate into the hair cuticles and hydrate the dry curls leaving them shiny, and healthy.
11. LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER
Leave-in conditioners (like this one) are a great step to use after your shampoo and deep conditioner hair post-swim.
It adds an extra boost of hydration that will increase the moisture levels of the curly strands.
Most are humectants that will help attract moisture to the curly hair which was dried out during swimming.
Leave-in conditioners will minimize frizz, prevent breakage, hydrate, nourish the hair and contribute to protecting the health of your hair.
This post was all about how to protect hair while swimming.
Protecting your child’s hair will ensure they get to fully enjoy swimming whilst maintaining the health of their curly strands.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out the posts below on more mixed hair care.
Follow us to see our REEL-ness on Instagram for real-time updates and even more #DoYouEvenMom moments.