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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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Blow Drying Natural Curls: What You Need To Know

It’s the height of summer, and walking around with wet hair is no fun. But applying heat to curly hair can cause serious damage. What’s a natural-haired gal to do?

There are ways to blow-dry curly hair while still protecting it from damage and preventing frizz. Whether you’re going for a full blow-out or just trying to dry off after a shower, you can safely blow dry your curls.

Here’s how to do it.

Use a Diffuser

A diffuser is a hair dryer attachment that spreads the air out over a wider surface. Not only does it minimize damage, but it also minimizes frizz. Diffusers can even help even out your natural curl pattern and add some volume, if that’s what your hair needs.

To use a diffuser on curly hair, simply cup the diffuser around your wet hair. Let each section of your hair sit in the diffuser for a few moments at a time. Your hair should be conditioned and styled before you diffuse it.

Blow-dry On Low Heat or Cool Air

Each time you blow dry, make sure the heat is turned on low or turned off entirely. You don’t want to blast your hair with super hot air. Yes, cooler air takes longer to dry your hair. But the health of your hair is worth the extra time.

Use Heat Protectants

If you’re blowing your hair out, you may need to use medium heat to actually stretch the hair. In that case, make sure you use a heat protectant first. Apply it evenly from root to tip on each section before blow drying. Heat protectants create a barrier on top of your hair, which prevents the heat from damaging your hair cuticle.

Air Dry First

If you have the time, air dry your hair for 15 minutes or so before you blow dry. Blot excess moisture with a T-shirt or microfiber towel, which are both gentle on curly hair. Then blow dry. You won’t spend as much time blow drying, and you’ll end up with less frizz.

Keep It Moving

Lastly, don’t let the blow dryer sit on one section of hair for too long. Ideally, the blow dryer should keep moving around every few seconds. Otherwise, you risk putting too much heat on your hair at once, which spells damage.

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