Swimming: Hair Routine

Titom asks, 'Could you please do a post on your regimen when you go swimming? I am currently taking swimming lessons(hair is in braids) and in spite of putting conditoner in the hair before swimming, washing it with the kiehl swimmers shampoo and AO white camellia shampoo and then gererously using some HEHH as leave in, my hair still feels so dry, and I have 9 lessons to go!'

Before swim routine
1. Hair is always braided (own hair, no extensions - because hair needs to fit in the swim cap)
2. Thoroughly coat my hair in coconut oil the night before.
3. Wake up in the morning and apply some more coconut oil.
4. Get to the pool, wet hair with normal water before wearing a swim cap
5. Swim

After swim routine
1. Wash hair with shampoo (SLES is a must for me)
2. Condition hair, leave for 5 minutes and rinse out
3. Apply leave in, a smidgeon of shea butter and coconut oil, wrap hair in scarf to smush down the fluffy bits. Take scarf off after 10 minutes or so.

Why I do what I do
1. Coconut oil is absorbed by hair and prevents it from swelling excessively when wet.
2. Wetting hair with normal water before swimming allows that water to absorb into the hair instead of the more chlorinated swimming pool water.
3. The swim cap prevents the hair from moving around and protects it from the onslaught as you move through the water. It does not prevent water getting in.
4. I do not coat my hair in hair conditoner before swimming because the conditioner simply ends up in the pool. It is a pet hate of mine to swim in pantene .....swimmers seem to always use pantene - I can smell it and taste it in the water! I know plenty of hair people recommend this but I do not think it is useful in any way.

For an alternative routine - read the two cap and swim band combination and a la Kcurly. (I am still waiting for my lycra cap in the post!) She has great tips featured on both her blogs, so check them both out. She does do the hair conditoner thing and here is her swimming routine


  1. Don't you find it tiresome to do those littles braids on you hair and to have to remove them one by one after ( about 8 hours in total Ahhhhhhhhh) ? On top of that, I can only keep them in for 3 weeks or they will loc. Have you found a tecnic or are you just super patient. How much square inches of hair do you braid (at the root). And how do you style it . Do you keep buning them.

  2. Thanks so much for this post. I used a swimming ca, but it kept sliding off, soI eventually took it off in frustration. I think I'll get a swimming band to hold it down.

    My braids have extensions, because my hair is just shoulder length and doesn't look good braided on its own (just BC in February). I will try this out and let you know how it goes.


  3. I have adopted a lazy approach. I never ever do small braids. My braids are about a square inch. If I could do them bigger, I would! I only keep them in for two weeks at a time because swimming makes them fuzzy.

    My styles vary from braiding the braids into two french braids, bunning, sometimes letting them hang down with a hair flower to decorate. As swimming increases, more shrinkage sets in so I have to work with what I have.

  4. Love you for this.....i'm linkin to it on my blog. fyi :)

  5. What do you mean by SLS is a must?

  6. Thanks. Do you part the hair and have straight part showing or do you do it like me: just grab a bunch of hair and braid it ? From my experience, unless the hair is super duper streched from the root, parting is difficult.

    I'll try that braiding thing again and see. 1 square inch is not bad. I just hope i look good in it with my non exixting parts. I did it once and it was so so. Lets try again

  7. Thank you for this post. I am going away soon and I want to enjoy the water as a newly natural. I will probably do double strand flat twists though, instead of braids.

  8. Thanks Dani

    Anon - SLS is sodium lauryl sulphate/sulfate. Many people avoid this as an ingredient but it is a must for me because I think it is an excellent surfactant which can clean my hair well.

    Kadiane- I don't have perfect parts but they are straightish lol.I always do my hair the day after conditioning when it is soft and easy to part

  9. Intelligentbeauty - Twists are fine too. I think any style that minimises the movement of the hair is good. I usually find twists unwind far too fast for me, while braids can be washed and stay fine for longer.

  10. I'm even lazier. I swim frequently and prefer not to be messing with my hair so much. I wear a silicone cap that does keep 99% of the water out. Only the sides of my hair get wet depending on my hairstyle (which sometimes prevents me from pulling the cap past my ears).

  11. Just a question about the wet your hair with tap water before entering the pool: are you sure that chlorinated water cannot compete with the already adsorbed water, to me if chlorine is dissolved, nothing would prevent it to travel from the pool to the water that is saturating the hair? Let me know what you think as being wrong would give me an easy routine to follow

  12. Anon - Hair reaches its saturation point after 15 minutes, meaning no further water can enter the hair.

    The issue of competition is interesting. I will see if anything has been researched on that!

    1. Although no more water can enter the hair after 15 minutes, to me it doesn't follow that the chlorine cannot enter the hair. It seems to me that after saturation has been reached, it would be easier for the chlorine to enter the hair, because of simple osmosis. I've not been able to find any study that has looked at this at all.

  13. yyyaaayyy that's exactly what i've been doing! i never bought into the conditioner thing, i can smell and taste it in the pool too. i have a silicone cap which actually keeps most of the water out, not all. thanks for the post!

  14. HI Jc. Thanks for your very helpful swimming post. Have taken up swimming lessons and with your method, my hair has not suffered at all. Been using it for the last 2 months with great success. I have even ditched my weekly deep conditioning because I simply do a rinse out conditioner after shampoo at the gym shower, and my hair still remains soft and moisturised all week! I strongly suspect my excessive use of coconut oil. Love the stuff!

    Was just wondering what was your experience with the lycra cap? Are you still using it? Thanks again.

    1. Hey Koily,

      Glad to hear it is working for you! The lycra cap is still in use. I find that it helps the silicone cap stay on and my hair is a little less wet than without it. The lycra cap on its own is not something I would do though, it gets very wet, very quickly.


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