A lot people enjoy swimming and water sports, but for some black women, swimming takes on an often overwhelming challenge.

What about my hair?

Because some women of color use strong chemicals to straighten their hair and multiple systems, like braiding and weaving to enhance their hair, jumping in a pool of chlorinated water can create a slight challenge.

Some would be curious about some solutions.

First of all, it’s important to understand the necessary care needed to keep hair healthy when exposed to chlorine is simple to provide. When you have hair that is chemically treated, artificial hair, or hair that is attached to your natural tresses, chlorine or salt exposure can damage the hair.
Extensions, weaves, and relaxers are commonplace ways for women with curly hair to groom and style their tresses. The extra moisture that extensions and weaves require for their maintenance is eliminated by the semi-caustic effect of chlorine and the drying effects of salt water. Weaves have an added area of weakness, the application process. If a weave is attached with glue, the glue’s chemical properties can mix poorly with chlorine or salt can break down. A sew on weave is safer, but chlorine and salt residue can still get trapped in the tracks and cause premature deterioration of the extension or weave.

Relaxed hair when exposed to chlorine or salt water is also susceptible to damage and breakage. If you decide to get in the pool and go under water, you should not sun bathe immediately afterward. Sitting under the sun’s hot rays with salt or chlorine residue in your hair, breaks down chemical relaxers and damages the hair.

The best ways to enjoy swimming with relaxed hair, extensions, or weaves is to treat the hair with a protective conditioner and then top it off with a water tight swim cap. After swimming remove the cap and rinse out the conditioner. If you have relaxed hair and insist on swimming without a cap, you can co-wash your hair after swimming. That is, use a light moisturizing conditioner to wash your hair. This does not strip your hair like excessive washing might do and it restores your hair to its original condition.

Swimming is enjoyable and good aerobic exercise. Take the necessary precautions with your hair so that you can truly enjoy your next to the beach excursion or pool party. No one should miss out on the fun of swimming because of their hair style.

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