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How to Protect Your Hair from Seawater, Pool Water and Hotel Water This Vacation Season

Avatar • Apr 24, 2014

black girl surfers

With the summer holiday season upon us, I thought it might be worthwhile writing a piece on water. Whether you are headed to the beach or pool this summer you may want to know what the water there will do to your hair. Here are the 5 main types of water you may encounter during your holiday or at your home:

1. Seawater

Seawater in itself, is not particularly bad for hair, despite the high level of salt. Splashing at the beach or even swimming in the ocean will generally not greatly affect hair. The main issue many naturals may experience is when seawater is not rinsed off and the salt dries onto the skin and scalp. The dried-on salt can then cause irritation as well as possibly dehydrate the hair by drawing water out.

Solution : Rinse your hair as soon as possible after being in ocean water. Adhere to this rule even if you may be wearing braid extensions and it is even more crucial if you have chosen to wear a weave or wig. A swim cap is always good for protecting hair from friction but it is not a substitute for rinsing hair.

2. Chlorinated water

Swimming regularly in chlorinated water is associated with hair damage both to the cuticle and cortex. This is generally linked to prolonged chlorine exposure in regular (3–5 times weekly) as opposed to infrequent swimmers. However, there are plenty of competitive swimmers who do have well maintained hair with little breakage. Therefore, while chlorine can damage hair, it is truly preventable

Solution: Use barriers such as a thick oil layer applied to hair prior to swimming and a swim cap to slow down and limit water uptake. Wash your hair after swimming to replace chlorinated water with regular tap water. You may also consider using bentonite clay every so often, as it is thought to be able to trap and filter ions.

3 .Tap water — hard water

You may be able to immediately know if your tap water is hard if you use natural soaps. Soap scum is common and it takes a lot of effort to create soap suds. The reason for this is that hard water contains a higher level of minerals specifically calcium and magnesium. Generally commercial shampoo will not pose a problem for washing hair in hard water but some naturals do still feel the difference.
Solution: A shower filter can remove the minerals in hard water and instantly transform it  into soft water. Use a commercial shampoo and not a soap based cleanser if you cannot fit a filter.

4. Tap water — soft water
Soft water contains a low level of dissolved minerals and salts and will generally be the best water to use when cleansing or moisturizing your hair.

5. Bottled water
Some naturals who live in hard water areas may opt to perform a final rinse with bottled water. Bottled water does vary in mineral content. However, calcium and magnesium ions which are also present in hard water are also in bottled water. A shower filter is usually a better option but in the event that you cannot fit one, (rented apartment, hotel stay) a bottled water rinse is not a bad idea.

 

What types of water does your hair typically come in contact with?

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About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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Aree
Aree
6 years ago

Omg!!! Forget seawater! Tell me where I can go were black women surf in groups!! I! Want! To! Go!

M
M
6 years ago
Reply to  Aree

They surf in the same places white women surf in groups. BEACHES. That’s like asking where can you go to find black people who play golf.

Aree
Aree
6 years ago
Reply to  M

I guess you are a little slow…seeing as there are a lot of beaches in this world. Hence the reason I said “where”, as in what beach or beaches.…but I understand simple sentences need to be more elaborate for you to comprehend. Maybe next time you get on your high horse you’ll stop to think not everybody lives, sees, or experiences the same things you do. Last time I checked you don’t see many black surfers. Let alone any being represented. So much so that there are websites dedicated to finding and teaching black people to surf so their representation in… Read more »

angie
angie
6 years ago
Reply to  Aree

come to Flagler Beach Fl. We have a very open-minded group of surfers here ; gender and culture. It is Florida, so the waves aren’t gnarly but enough to ride.

Check out the Tommy Tant event

Primmest Plum
Primmest Plum
6 years ago
Reply to  Aree

I know! I used to snowboard (not the same thing, I know lol) and it really was fun. I’ve always wanted to try surfing out as well.
But to answer your question: I think, judging by the scenery, flat land, tallish, grass and the girls, this looks like it’s in Africa. Couldn’t tell you which country but I do remember hearing that there was a surfing culture among Black South Africans. But I could be horribly wrong, so don’t hold me to it lol.

Dee*
Dee*
6 years ago

What works for me–
Seawater: Prep=a few twists, wet hair,seal w/oil or butter and pin up twists. After Swimming=apply alot of condish to twists and/or loose hair before retwisting. Rinse with fresh H2O. At Home=wash regimen, sleep good.

Pool: Same prep but add condish. At Home=clarifying poo, condish etc, sleep good.

Youngin girl
Youngin girl
6 years ago

Natural hair has so many limitations and solutions. That’s why I love this site because it informs you and brings you up to date. I can come into contact with intelligent women. I would be scared to surfboard but I’ll swim.

angie
angie
6 years ago

i love seawater in my hair, i will actually keep it in my hair a few days before rinsing it out. I’ve also learned that beach time is a great way to clarify the hair, so take advantage a scrub-a-dub-dub that scalp.

Adía
Adía
6 years ago
Reply to  angie

Isn’t the sand difficult to get out?

angie
angie
6 years ago
Reply to  Adía

We do have coquina here which is thick broken up shell sand, It seems as if thats my clarifing component. But usually within a day or 2 its out. I see i got a thumbs down for my comment, and i guess i don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but seawater helped me transition quickly, naturally and most importantly, emotionally. It cleansed both my hair and my soul. which is key.

Jo
Jo
6 years ago

What about river water, pond water, and lake water?

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Jo

I don’t have the same credentials as Jc, but from the water quality course I had in university, and previous on the job experience with water sampling, I would treat river/pond/lake water as I would hard water and seawater. Depending on where you are, freshwater may have a lot of dissolved inorganic compounds just like hard water (e.g. CaCl2, CaCO3, MgCl2, etc.) It also is generally contaminated with tainted runoff, whether it be from agriculture (pesticides like Atrazine) or roadways (tire breakdown byproducts like ZnCl2). So if it were me, I would rinse my hair ASAP after getting out of… Read more »

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

Note: CaCO3 is an organic compound, please pardon the misphrase.

Jc
Jc
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

Dananana, your info from the water sampling you have done is pretty useful. Bottled mineral water is generally collected from rivers and it does have a lot of dissolved salts as you mentioned. I love that you gave such a good answer!

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Jc

Thanks, Jc! I really wish I could have linked a few of the papers we used at work as references (short story: NEVER swim in a retention or drainage pond), but they’re all limited access. You’re pretty much my science writing idol, so I tried to answer as you would 😀

Candy
Candy
6 years ago

Love the picture of this article! Beautiful women!

I honestly never care too much about this kinda thing. Hair is the last thing I think when Im having fun. While I think is good that we worry about keeping our hair in good condition, I feel that some women let their hair take too much priority in their lives. Ive even read of a few sisters who dont swim just because they’re afraid it’ll damage their hair! come on now!!

But I definitely appreciate this article. I’ll keep it in mind next time I go to the beach 🙂

Knotty Natural
6 years ago
Reply to  Candy

I’m the same way! I think it’s ridiculous to sit out because of hair! My priorities are living life and living it well! I just finished swimming lessons and this summer, I’m taking surfing lessons! I’m so excited!

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