The Smart Way to Prep Your Natural Hair for Swimming 🏊🏾

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If you're heading to the beach this weekend or planning to take a dip in the pool, you might feel overwhelmed with all the styling options available for your natural hair. This belief that the possibilities are endless is actually an illusion. In reality there are only two ways you can prepare your hair for a swim:

The Smart Way
  • Deep condition your hair before entering the water.
  • If you don't have time to deep condition, spritz your hair with a mixture of water and aloe vera juice, then apply a medium to heavy oil (ex: castor oil) to seal in the moisture.
  • Choose a protective style that is appropriate for the amount of swimming you'll be doing. If you plan on swimming fifty laps, braids or cornrows will hold up much better than two-strand twists or a bun.
  • After swimming, wash out any chlorine or salt water as soon as possible using shampoo. Co-washing isn't advisable at this point, as it will not properly cleanse your scalp.
  • [OPTIONAL] Clarify with an apple cider vinegar rinse to make sure you got all the gunk out of your hair, and to close your hair cuticles.
  • Dry your hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel.

The Not-So-Smart Way
  • Failing to do any or all of the above!
  • If you don't deep condition or lock in moisture with oil, your hair will be unprotected from the salt and chlorine. It'll feel hard and dry, and then you'll have to work double time to re-moisturize it.
  • If you don't protective style, you will almost certainly spend the entire evening and part of the following morning detangling and cutting out knots.
  • If you don't thoroughly wash your hair, everything that was in the water (chemical and biological) will be trapped in your tresses along with all the oil you applied beforehand. This build-up not only clogs your pores and weighs down your hair (which is bad for hair growth), but it will also start to smell funky!
  • If you don't dry your hair with a t-shirt, you risk subjecting your hair to breakage. That's because the weave pattern of a cotton t-shirt is much gentler on type four natural hair than that of a towel.

So the next time you have to pack your pool bag, don't fret. Remember this advice to narrow down your styling options and have a happy beach hair day!


How do you prep your natural hair for the water? Share your tips in a comment below!

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