Swimming With Natural Hair: What You Need to Know Before Hitting the Beach

I have never been one of those girls that refused to get my hair wet whenever I was going to the pool or the beach. I never had difficulty washing my hair. In fact, my only problem was drying. I always ended up with a huge frizz ball for hair. Even now that I’m natural, I still don’t have problems washing my hair. Maybe because it’s not as long as when it was permed, it’s not a hassle. Detangling takes a while yes, but once we’ve got a rhythm going, things tend to move rather smoothly. I think at this point, my only concern is protecting it from damage. So because I was going to the beach today with some friends, and considering that my hair is now purple, I decided to look up some tips on how to protect my hair from damage from the salt water. It’s actually so simple, and doesn’t take much time at all. Some people were saying I would have to soak my hair in a bunch of different oils, and wrap my hair… I wanted to scream! I can’t imagine putting too much oils or products into the ocean. These tips helped me today, so hopefully, they can help you too:


  • Saturate your hair - sounds silly right? Why do I need to wet my hair BEFORE I get in the water? Quick answer – wet hair will soak up less chlorine (or sea salt) than dry hair will. Think of it like a sponge. A dry sponge will absorb as much liquid as it can. But a wet sponge is so full, it can’t absorb any more.

  • Apply coconut oil (unrefined is best) prior to getting in the water (preferably the night before). Hair will absorb the coconut oil strengthening the hair shaft thus providing extra protection against the chlorine. I used organic extra virgin olive oil.

  • Coat hair with conditioner - this will seal the cuticle and help create a barrier between your strands and the chlorine. *some choose to forego this tip because fellow swimmers may end up wearing it and tasting it! I didn’t do this step. I figured the coconut oil would be enough.

  • Do not leave your hair out - one big braid or a bun will keep hair from becoming matted or tangled. My hair is currently in a twists up-do.

  • Wear a swim cap – it may not be sexy and you can certainly skip it, however, the more barrier between your hair and the chlorine the better.


Post Swim:

  • Rinse with water then shampoo – there are several swimmers shampoos out there. Try Ions Swimmer Shampoo (100% vegan and sulfate free) or Triswim Shampoo (paraben free). I used Garnier Fructis Color Shield Fortifying Shampoo.

  • Condition as normal (deep condition if you feel it’s necessary). I used Cantu Leave in Conditioner.

How do you prep your hair prior to taking a dip?