How To Protect Your Natural Hair While Swimming (Outdoors)

Summer time is the best. I really enjoy swimming in my pool and of course at the beach! Swimming outdoors is a great way to work out, get some natural vitamin D from the sun, and enjoy the good weather.  However, for us curlies out there, this means exposure to the harsh rays from the sun, chlorine from the swimming pool and salt from the beach.  This could reek havoc on our precious tresses. So we must take extra measures to protect our hair so that we can take advantage of swimming!
Growing up, I swam a lot and I loved it! I can vividly recall my mother putting my hair up into bun, and stuffing my hair into a plastic swim cap before swim class and washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner extensively right after.  She was on the right track. She got the general idea.  But there were some extra measures that weren't taken that could have helped me protect my hair better.  Luckily, I've picked up a ton of tips throughout my natural hair journey and have implemented them into my regimen.  I've learned 3 basic principles and they are to always protect, cleanse, and condition my hair.  These hair-care principles definitely apply to my swimming routine.
Now that I know better, here is my personal routine for protecting my hair when I want to swim:
1. Wet Hair
This is the most important step. I saturate my hair with water by wetting my hair under the faucet.  In other scenarios, I just spritz my hair with water.  Your hair will absorb less chlorine or salt if its already saturated with water because hair is like a sponge. It could only soak up so much! So, soak it up with some water so it doesn't have enough room to absorb the yucky stuff.
2. Apply Conditioner
I then apply any conditioner of my choice all over my hair. You can use a moisturizing oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, as an alternative. I tend to use cheaper rinse-out conditioners for this, particularly with...dare I say....silicones! The silicones in these conditioners will form a barrier between your hair and the water and keep the chlorine and salt out.
I recommend putting your hair into a bun, twists, or braids while swimming to make detangling easier when you are ready to cleanse and condition your hair after.
3. Wear a Cap (Optional)
Some people say that swim caps are not necessary when swimming since they don't actually keep your hair dry. That is totally true! Your hair will absolutely get wet even if you wear a swimming cap. But depending on the quality of your cap, more or less water will come in. I choose to take that extra step for the benefit of my hair!
a) I put a plastic cap or bag on my hair to take advantage of the time I'll be spending swimming and use it as a deep conditioning session! When I do this, my hair comes out softer afterwords.
b) I wear My Swim Cap from My Swim Stuff.  It is a very high quality swim cap that helps to keep the water out. I really like it!
Note: Treat your hair as well as you do your skin when you are outside swimming in the sun. If you don't wear a cap, consider using shea butter on your hair as it is a natural sunscreen. Believe it or not, UV rays from the sun CAN and WILL damage your hair.
4. Cleanse and Condition
It is important to thoroughly cleanse and condition your hair after swimming. You absolutely MUST get the chlorine and salt out of your hair and you absolutely MUST thoroughly moisturize your hair after swimming.  I either apply a mild shampoo or clarifying conditioner to my hair.  Then I deep condition or regularly condition my hair.

That's it!

Hope this helps! Happy swimming!
Stay Engaged,