I once had someone ask me if it was ok to stay with chlorine in hair overnight. They were from swim practice and he was dead tired to the point of contemplating to wash his hair the next morning.
As an avid swimmer, I’m always aware of the ever-present danger of the chlorine used as a disinfectant in pools. My hair has endured the brunt of chlorine damage especially when I first colored it.
Regular exposure to chlorine can take a toll on your hair. Chlorine damage can totally dry out your hair and leave it very brittle. This can even lead to hair breakage.
Your scalp can also become annoyingly itchy.
What Is Chlorine Damage?
Most swimming pools must use chlorine tablets to disinfect them.
Chlorine reacts with the organisms present in the pool water as well as the inorganic ones.
This disinfection allows you to swim in a clean pool.
When you are swimming, chlorine reacts with your hair and strips its natural oils and moisture.
With time, you start noticing that your hair getting drier, brittle and the scalp just can’t stop itching.
The chlorine in pool water is the number one cause of the green effect on hair, especially blondes.
My friend who is a natural blonde has had green hair several times.
She had to come up with different ways to protect her hair including using a swim cap.
What happens is that the chlorine and copper in the water bond together and with this new bond, they stick on the protein present in your hair strands, causing it to turn green.
The only other alternatives to chlorinated pools are ocean water pools and saltwater pools.
However, a saltwater pool is not really chlorine-free as I’ve explained in this article.
How Often Should Swimmers Wash Their Hair?
If you’re a regular swimmer, then it’s paramount for you to take more caution when it comes to preventing chlorine damage.
It’s ideal – under normal circumstances – to shampoo your hair once or twice a week.
But if you spend the better part of your day in the pool or ocean, it might be wise to wash it daily.
Spending hours in the pool means your hair accumulates chlorine and other harmful chemicals from the water.
This is even worse if you just jump in without first rinsing your hair with clean water.
The thing is, dry hair absorbs much more chlorinated water.
Rinsing it off won’t be enough to remove all of it.
You can opt to use a good shampoo that removes chlorine from your hair then follow this with a conditioner to restore moisture back into your locks.
The best option is to create a hair care regimen that involves daily cleansing and conditioning to protect the hair from chlorine damage.
Use shampoos and conditioners that are recommended for daily use.
In case you don’t want to wash your hair daily then you can opt to wear a cap each time you go swimming.
Although the jury is still out on whether there is a swim cap that can keep your hair completely dry, a silicone cap will keep the chlorinated water out of your hair to a great extent.
How Long Can Chlorine Stay In Your Hair?
The best way to protect your hair from chlorine damage is to rinse it off immediately after you exit the swimming pool.
If you can, wash the hair with a swimmers’ shampoo and follow it up with a good conditioner.
Chlorine starts causing damage once the hair dries off.
It’s at this stage that the chlorine crystalizes and oxidation takes place causing damage and the green effect on some hair types.
In case you can’t shower immediately you leave the pool and wash the hair, keep it wet for as long as possible.
Once you get a chance, rinse off the chlorine and use shampoo to remove all of it from your hair.
Never allow your hair to dry off with the chlorinated water on it.
It’s best to wash your hair as soon as you leave the pool but in case you can’t, keep it wet.
Is It Bad To Stay With Chlorine In Hair Overnight?
Please, please, DO NOT stay with chlorine in your hair overnight.
If you do (and make it a habit), this has the potential to cause immense damage to your hair.
Once the chlorinated water dries in the hair, it starts causing damage as oxidation takes place, as I’ve mentioned above.
By morning, your hair will be dull, lifeless, and well, unrecognizable.
In case you can’t wash it with shampoo and follow it up with conditioner, at the very least rinse out the chlorine water as soon as you leave the swimming pool.
This simple activity will protect it for the night and buys you time to properly wash your hair in the morning.
Always remember to wet your hair before you jump into the pool.
The hair absorbs the clean water, leaving little room for the chlorinated water to completely soak up your hair.
I talked more about soaking your hair with water before swimming in a separate post where I looked at how to protect hair when swimming everyday.
How To Remove Chlorine From Hair – Home Remedies
Apart from using the normal shampoo and conditioner, you can opt to use natural remedies to remove chlorine from your hair and prevent further damage.
This works best if you prefer using natural products on your hair.
For starters, always rinse your hair with clean water before you take a dip in the pool.
The hair soaks up the clean water and once you are in the pool, it can’t take in as much chlorinated water.
If you enter the pool with dry hair, it takes in as much chlorinated water as it can.
Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the natural remedies you can opt to use is apple cider vinegar which is available in many homes.
Start by taking two parts of apple cider vinegar and mix with one part of water.
Once you’ve mixed it, apply it on your hair, covering all areas.
Let this mixture soak in your hair for 10 minutes.
It’s best not to rush to rinse the hair.
When the 10 minutes elapse, rinse the hair thoroughly with clean water then shampoo and condition.
Apple cider vinegar is one of the best natural remedies as it acts as a hair clarifier.
Another natural remedy for removing chlorine from hair is by using baking soda.
Baking soda is one of the most widely-used home products for many natural remedies.
Take one part of baking soda and mix it in a bowl with two parts of water.
Apply this mixture into your hair and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Ensure every part of your hair is covered.
After that rinse it off and shampoo your hair.
Tomatoes are another home remedy that helps in removing chlorine from your hair.
You can opt to use tomato juice, tomato paste, or tomato sauce.
Start by dampening your hair if it’s already dry after your swimming session.
Coat a thin layer of any of the above-mentioned tomato products.
Ensure you cover all the hair strands.
Leave the tomato product on your hair for 15 minutes before you rinse it off with clean water.
When you have rinsed off the entire product, shampoo and condition your hair.
This is one of the best home remedies especially if you have the green color on your hair that is caused by chlorine.
The red color of tomato products is known to neutralize the green effect of chlorine restoring your hair.
The other method involves creating a citrus rinse to remove chlorine from your hair after a swim.
Get a small mixing bowl and in it squeeze juice from one lemon.
Follow that by adding one teaspoon of club soda into the lemon juice.
Dampen your hair if it’s already dry and then thoroughly coat it with this mixture of lemon and club soda.
Spread it evenly by combing the hair with a wide-tooth comb.
Let this mixture sit on your hair for 5 minutes then rinse it off.
After rinsing all of it, shampoo and condition your hair.
Another way to rinse the chlorine out of your hair is to use white vinegar mixed with water.
Take ½ cup of white vinegar and mix it with ½ cup of water.
Pour this mixture on damp hair.
Comb it to evenly distribute the mixture then let it sit for 5 minutes.
After the time has elapsed, rinse off the mixture with clean water then shampoo and condition your hair.
Can You Use Coconut Oil For Chlorine-Damaged Hair?
At times the damage is already done before you take the necessary steps to protect your hair from chlorine damage.
It’s best to learn as many different remedies for chlorine-damaged hair as possible.
One of these remedies is using coconut oil for oil treatment therapy.
As already mentioned, one of the effects of chlorine on hair is that it strips it of the natural oils that coat it.
This leaves your hair rather brittle and your scalp exposed.
The constant itching can lead to irritation on the scalp.
Start by rinsing off the chlorinated water, and then shampoo and condition your hair.
Follow this cleansing routine by covering all your hair with coconut oil.
What the oil does is moisturize the hair strands and scalp.
Coconut oil has been used for centuries as a remedy for damaged hair.
It’s no wonder it comes in handy on chlorine-damaged hair as well.
A good coconut oil treatment is what chlorine-damaged hair needs.
Take a good amount of coconut oil and coat the clean hair with it.
Comb it with a wide-tooth comb for even distribution of the oil.
For the best results, let it sit on your hair for 30 minutes.
Much of the coconut oil needs to be concentrated on the ends.
After combing, you can massage it into the scalp and let your head relax.
A good idea is to perform this oil treatment overnight.
Apply the coconut oil before bed and wrap your hair with a silk scarf.
Leave it on overnight then wash the hair the next morning.
This gives the oil enough time to repair and care for your hair.
Coconut oil treatment works wonders on chlorine-damaged hair.
For one it moisturizes the hair leaving it soft and smooth.
On top of that, your hair’s natural shine and luster are restored. Chlorine tends to make hair dull.
Another effect of chlorine that can be reversed with coconut oil is frizz.
A good oil treatment helps to tame frizz, leaving the hair soft and smooth.
It also protects against further breakage and split ends.
Apart from using it as an oil treatment, you can add coconut oil to your favorite hair product and enjoy its benefits without needing to rinse it off.
Apart from repairing chlorine-damaged hair, you can get ahead and prevent the damage altogether.
Wet your hair before swimming and coat it with coconut oil.
This seals it off and prevents most of the chlorinated water from getting absorbed by the hair strands.
The only problem is you might need to regularly clean the pool.
The oil ends up coating the sides and can even damage the filters.
Chlorine is an essential chemical that must be used in swimming pools for our well-being.
It works to disinfect the pool leaving it fit for use by people.
It has its benefits, but none apply to our hair.
Once chlorinated water is absorbed by hair, it’s only a matter of time before the damage is done.
Without taking the necessary precautions to prevent or repair the damage, the results are detrimental.
The hair becomes dull, breaks easily, you get split ends and frizzy hair.
On top of all that, the constant itching is unbearable.
In the event that the damage is already done, you might want to “revive” your hair by getting the best deep conditioner for swimmers.
Deep conditioners help to infuse the much-needed moisture to the hair strands and repair the damaged hair.
They also help to protect against future damage.
As a regular swimmer, it’s advisable to wash your hair regularly and even use home remedies to get the chlorine out of your hair.
Coconut oil is one of the best home remedies to use for oil treatment.
This works to repair the damaged hair and restore it to its shine and luster.
And no, you cannot stay with chlorine in hair overnight.