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Will My Hair Color Fade If I Went Swimming?

You might realize that the hair becomes dry after you swim but will the hair color actually fades? Is chlorine bad? Hmm...

Hello! My name is Zell. In this article, we’re going to talk about the water in the swimming pool, the chemicals in it and if those chemicals cause the hair color to fade. “Hi Zell! I did coloring 2 weeks ago, can I go swimming next week?”, I usually get such questions occasionally, especially during the holidays. This inspires me to write an article to explore deeper on this topic.

Let’s start with something light, let me share a silly story. When we go for our holidays, going to the pool at the hotel will be one of the activities to relax and swim or to just to soak in the jacuzzi. I was with my friends in the main pool and thereafter, we went to the jacuzzi to sit down and chat. About half an hour passed and my friend looked at me very seriously and asked me a question, “I realized that we have been swimming for a little more than an hour but your hair is completely dry. How??” I burst out laughing but the sad thing is, after all these while, all I can remember about that holiday is that peculiar question. Haha.

Before we get into the main question on whether the color will fade, let me first share what keeps the pools clean. All swimming pools will have their own filter system to help keep the pools physically clean, all the dirt and leaves falling into the pool, but chemicals are the main thing that really keeps the water chemically clean.

As bacteria need water to grow, it thrives in water. Which means, if a pool filled with untreated water with no chemicals added, it would be the perfect heaven for the disease in the microorganism to move from one person to another. To prevent such a thing from happening, a good disinfecting agent is needed. The most popular pool disinfectant is chlorine, in the form of a chemical compound such as calcium hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite.

So far, chlorine seems like a very good chemical that kills bacteria in the water but do you know what other thing it can kill? Your hair condition.

To explain it in a simpler way, how chlorine works, it will attach itself to different elements, pull it out and turns it into salts or other compounds. When your hair comes into contact with chlorine, it will bond with the sebum in your hair and pull it out by chemical bond. This action alone will make your hair looking a lot less shiny and lifeless. In addition, when it comes into contact with keratin protein in the hair, it chemically bonds itself with parts of the protein molecules and makes it water soluble. The hair will be physically weakened and thinner. Yes, it seems like a hair version of a horror movie. It is that scary as it directly affects the physical state of the hair.

Now, the answer to the main topic, will my hair color fade if I went swimming? The answer is, it mostly will, depending on how long the hair was soaked in the water. An experiment was done where flowers are subject to chlorine and the result is, it turned white, decolorizing it completely. The same goes for our hair too, the artificial color will leave the hair when it comes into contact with chlorine.

There were also instances where it was reported that chlorine causes the hair color to fade to a shade of green. This will happen if there is a copper compound in the pool itself. When water, chlorine, and copper meets, it creates copper chloride dihydrate, a bright bluish-green compound, which explains the green.

If you want to swim, you can be like me to not let the hair touch the water at all. Haha. But if you really want to swim and soak the hair in the chlorine water, you can consider the following -

1) Use a swim cap

Yes, I’m not joking. Like what you saw on tv, Olympic swimmers wear a swim cap to protect their hair from the water as they have to spend a long time in the water. But the main purpose is to reduce drag and increase speed for them. On a side note, I do agree that it might not be fashionable to wear that when you are holiday-ing, let’s look at other options below. Haha.

2) Prep your hair by applying hair oil

Use hair oil to oil up your hair from the tip to the end. Argan oil, coconut oil or olive oil, any of those would be beneficial for the hair. When the oil is applied on the hair, it acts as a barrier to shield the hair from the harmful chemicals.

3) Pre-pool rinse

If you’re not doing the above, at least do a pre-pool rinse by getting the hair wet with clear cold tap water. This will help to minimize chlorine saturation and the cold water will help to seal the color. Doing this alone will not prevent the chlorine from damaging the hair but it will minimize the damage.

4) Condition the hair immediately

After swimming in the pool, the hair should be rather dry now. It would be advised to wash the hair immediately to get rid of the excess chlorine in the hair and use a conditioner to replenish the moisture and rehydrate it. Use hair oil again after that.

In conclusion, with all the information listed above, when the hair comes into contact with chlorine, it physically weakens it, making it thinner and causing the color to fade. With that in mind, if you have to swim, do follow the 4 steps above or you can be like me, swim for an hour without getting your hair wet and you might earn some respect from your friends after that day. Hahaha.

If you need any help on your hair issue, you know where to find us. Just head to our fb page and send us a message. Or if you have booked an appointment with us on our website, you should have my number. Send me a message. Ask me anything, hair loss, hair care routine, hair maintenance. I’m always here to help you! :)


Steve V Hair Studio

Bugis Cube (opposite Bugis Junction)

#04-04 S'pore 188735

Tel no: 6336 1476


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