27th December 2017.For a swimmer, the pool is like a second home ? especially if you swim competitively. Even if you only dip into the pool a few times a week to do your exercise, though, you'll still spend a lot of time in the water compared to someone who only swims recreationally. While that affords you plenty of time to work on your physique and build up your endurance so you can swim longer and harder, it also takes a toll on your body in other ways. We aren't talking about sore muscles or cramping legs, either. Have you ever stopped to think about the effects the water in the pool itself is having on you? Swimming in freshwater is one thing, and the water of the ocean is clearly much different than at your local pool. Neither type of water features chlorine in the same levels as you'll find in public pools, though. On the one hand, it's a positive and necessary feature. The chlorine attacks and kills bacteria, keeping the water safe and clean for swimming. The trade-off is that the chlorine can also have a substantial impact on our hair and skin. The more time you spend in the water, the more likely it is you'll have to deal with the effects at some point. What kind of problems should you be on the lookout for, and what can you do to fix them? Let's start by breaking down the effects of chlorine on our bodies.
Understanding the impact of chlorine on your body
While it is perfectly safe for us to swim in chlorinated pool water, that doesn't mean there won't be some side effects if you spend a lot of time swimming. For example, it is normal and natural for your hair to feel a little drier than normal a day after you go swimming. Exposure to chlorine every now and again only produces this dryness, which a quick rinse with conditioner is more than enough to fix. The more time you spend exposing your hair to the water, though, the more likely you are to damage the hair due to over-drying and other problems. Copper leached out of piping by the chlorine can also end up in your hair, causing a greenish tint. Your skin often doesn't fare much better than your hair does; just as the chlorine can remove the natural oils your hair and scalp produce, it does the same to your skin as well. For most people, this just results in dry and sometimes itchy skin. For others, it can mean the appearance of red, splotchy patches or even a rash. For those who spend time swimming in pools several days a week, these are real problems. What can you do to help reduce the effects?
What you can do to minimise the effects of chlorine
Your efforts to fight back against this frustrating effect must begin before you ever enter the water. First, are you drinking enough water? Hydration isn't just important for making sure that your body has what it needs to sustain your efforts during the workout. The more water you drink, the more your body can efficiently expel waste products from its cells?which often leads to clearer, better-looking skin. By hydrating properly every day, you can activate a natural defence mechanism against the drying effects of chlorine. While this won't eliminate the issue for those with sensitive skin, it can help. Applying a cream that contains moisturising agents before you swim can also help. Many sunscreens contain vitamins that nourish your skin and can help lessen post-swim drying. A shower beforeyou get in the pool is a key way to mitigate the damage to your hair. Think about it: your hair can only absorb so much water, right? It, therefore, makes sense to try to saturate your hair with fresh water before you take a dip in the pool. This way, your hair will not absorb as much of the chlorinated water, and your exposure will be that much less. Combine this method with the wearing of a bathing cap, and you can keep the water as far away from your hair as possible. While you'll still want to try employing some haircare products, this will prevent the most serious damage from occurring.
Taking extra steps after your swim
Once you finish your workout for the day and exit the water, don't just towel off and go about the rest of your day. Instead, first take the opportunity to shower again as soon as possible. Rinsing the chlorine off your skin and out of your hair limits its opportunity to continue neutralising your natural oils. Don't just rinse off as you did before your swim; use soap and shampoo to scrub away all the chlorine possible. This extra step will set the stage for the important stage in your body care routine. You can also choose to use a conditioner during your shower, though there are additional options for afterwards as well. Once you've showered, it's time to moisturise. You'll need to work to replace what the water took from your hair and skin. During this time, you can also use talc powder to help remove chlorine from your skin in sensitive areas. Just remember that you can't apply talc and moisturiser to the same areas of your skin. All done? Have a glass of tea ? the antioxidant-rich beverage will help your skin and hair recover while also offering a delightful moment of refreshment.
Choosing products for swimmers to improve hair and skincare
What kinds of moisturisers and shampoos will work best for you? There is a whole market of products devoted to swimmers like you who face these issues. For your post-swim shower, look for shampoos specially marketed to swimmers. These use formulas that contain ingredients for capturing and pulling the chlorine away from your hair. Afterwards, a leave-in conditioner designed to prevent damage and promote healthy growth is a smart choice. Choose a facial moisturiser designed for swimmers as well. For the rest of your body, a more standard moisturiser of your choice is often suitable for the task. Just remember that you can't skip these steps after a swim ? otherwise, you'll allow the chlorine to continue damaging your skin and hair.
What to do if you wait too long
Sometimes, you can't always keep up with this type of routine. Perhaps you're just now learning about these strategies altogether. What can you do if you're already suffering from chlorine-damaged hair, for example? It's important to realise that it will take some time to undo the damage, but it is possible. Start by working to remove the chlorine build-up present on your hair. Special clarifying shampoos can help to do this while rinsing with apple cider vinegar is an easy at-home remedy to try to start the process. Protein-based conditioners and special hair moisturisers will be your best friend during this process. If you aren't sure where to begin at all, speak to a professional hairdresser or other beauty pro to get more specific guidance on how to work on your hair. Patience and persistence are the rules when it comes to repairing your skin as well. Choose deep-cleansing facial care products and pair them with heavy duty moisturisers to restore your skin's natural balance. Of course, if you can stand to leave the pool behind for a while, a break from the chlorine exposure will help immensely, too. Try using this break to focus your efforts on another area of physical fitness you may need to develop further.
Start enjoying better hair and skin even when you swim often
Are you tired of feeling like your hair is dry and brittle, or contending with skin issue arising from the time you spend swimming? These tips and tricks should help to start you on the path to repairing the damage. If you're not at that point yet, take the time to familiarise yourself with the best ways to prevent the damage from occurring altogether. Whether you wear a swim cap or stock up on speciality soaps and shampoos designed for swimmers, there are plenty of things to try. Working out in the pool doesn't need to have a negative impact on your skin and hair ? try some of these tips next time you head down to the water. Follow @SportNessUK