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Though some of the country is still battling wintery temps, it’s officially spring, which means it’s pool season. Finally! Pools can dry out and damage natural curls, but there are ways to protect your hair while you enjoy a dip. Natural hair is no excuse not to enjoy every bit of warm weather that you can!

How Does Chlorine Affect Natural Hair?

First, it’s important to understand what happens to your hair when you go swimming. Your hair shaft absorbs the chlorine from pool water. Chlorine strips the hair of its natural oils and can also damage the hair cuticle. The result? Damaged, broken hair.

Because curly and kinky hair is especially fragile, it’s also especially vulnerable to chlorine’s negative effects. Here are some steps that you can take to prevent damage.

How to Protect Your Hair While Swimming

There are four simple steps that every naturalista should practice before getting into a pool:

Wet your hair. It may seem a little strange, but if your hair is already soaking wet when you get into the pool, it will soak up less chlorine. Less chlorine means less damage.

Apply an oil. Oil seals the hair cuticle and traps moisture. It serves as an extra layer of protection against chlorine.

Coat with conditioner. Right before heading to the pool, apply conditioner to your hair. Like the oil, it serves as a barrier between your hair and the pool water, and it seals the hair cuticle.

Wrap your hair. After your strands have their armor on, wrap them all up and put your hair in a bun or another protective style. If you’re really serious about protecting your hair, wear a swimming cap.

Restoring Natural Hair After the Pool

Even with all of these tips, your hair will be exposed to some amount of chlorine when you go swimming. It’s important to cleanse your hair after swimming so that the chlorine doesn’t stick around for long.

After you get back from the pool, rinse your hair with cool water, then cleanse it with a gentle shampoo. Then simply follow your regular conditioning and styling routine. If your hair is feeling dry, use a deep conditioner to restore moisture.

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