As we begin to venture outdoors and bask in the gorgeous summer sunshine, taking a dip in that cool blue water is looking mighty enticing. But with natural hair…The once-joyous act of jumping into a pool with childlike enthusiasm, or diving into the ocean like a mermaid can come with a moment of hesitation, when we think of what to do with our hair. As black women, swimming has always been a bit of a struggle as we work out if taking that refreshing dip will be worth it when it comes to our tresses.
If you’ve been thinking twice about plunging in head-first, here’s the good news: No longer do you have to be the one sitting on the edge of the pool just dipping your feet in and threatening to splash anyone who gets your hair wet, while watching everyone else cooling off with careless abandon.
Listen up to these tips that will bring the joy of swimming back into your life! Knowing how to do it right will take your hair concerns out of the equation so you can be a bathing beauty, soaking up the pleasures of pool season all summer long!
Testing The Waters
Now, before we dive into the pre- and post-swim treatments for natural hair, it’s important to understand exactly what is happening to your curls when we’re immersed underwater.
When it comes to swimming, you’ll be exposing your hair to a couple of different elements that you’ll need to keep in mind.
In the pool, we’re talking chlorine. This chemical strips your hair of its natural oils and minerals that allow it to thrive. If a day at the pool has ever left you struggling with crunchy, brittle curls, chlorine is the main culprit. And if you plan on taking daily dips in the pool this summer to swim laps or cool off, it’s especially important to give your naturally delicate and dry curls a bit of extra TLC, so you can fend off the effects of chlorinated water on your hair that will lead to brittleness, damage and breakage.
When you’re at the beach, you don’t have the chlorine to worry about, but instead it’s the high content of salt in the ocean water that can damage your natural hair if you’re not careful. Salt can be notoriously dehydrating to your hair and if not properly remedied, can leave your hair looking dry and dull.
To immerse your natural hair in the ocean or pool with confidence, the main thing you need to do is ensure you’re diving in with beautifully hydrated and moisturized hair to begin with. So when you’re ready to jump in head-first to the next alluring big blue calling your name, grab your towel and follow these tips for the best pool season hair ever...
Get Ready to Dive In: Pre-Swim Plan
Step 1: Wet Your Hair
While this may sound a little crazy, stay with us for a moment. If you wet your hair with fresh, clean water before hopping in the pool or the ocean, your strands will already be completely saturated and won’t be able to soak up as much liquid… And that means chlorinated and salted water
Your hair will still take on water from the pool or ocean it just won't be the first thing that your hair absorbs. But that won't be enough to protect your strands -- it's just a required first step. It's good for your skin too to start with by rinsing with fresh water.
Step 2: Protect and Coat Your Hair with a Conditioning Mask
Creating hydration through a layering process gives your hair the best defense. Once your hair is wet, apply a light coating of your Urbanbella Pre-Swim Treatment which will protect the hair shaft and provide a physical layer between the chlorine or salt and your curls. I created this elixir so that it gives you protection against harsh water and it makes your hair incredibly soft and easy to detangle.
The fragrance alone will transport you to the tropics- even if we’re just dipping into our pool at home instead of on a secluded exotic island!
Step 3: "EXPERT LEVEL"... Swimming Cap!
If you are comfortable wear it --go ahead and pop on a swimming cap.
Now, before you tell us how your big curly fro could never fit, hear us out! You should only attempt a swim cap after you’ve done the two layer hydration method in the steps above. Although your hair is covered, swim caps aren’t water tight, so you still want to make sure your hair is prepped because some water will get inside. With this hydration method, your hair will be significantly easier to manage at this point because it’ll be slick and wet. Tucking your natural curls into a swim cap provides the very best defense and minimizes the most potential damage that chlorine and salt water will have on your hair.
The Post Swim Program
Step 1: Rinse Without Delay!
Immediately rinse your hair with clean, fresh water without delay as soon as you step out off the beach or out of the pool. The sooner you remove the drying elements in the chlorine and sea salt from your hair, the less time they’ll have in contact with your strands to wreak havoc on your moisture. If you can manage it, shampoo your hair immediately with your Urbanbella , but if you forgot to pack a mini bottle of shampoo in your beach bag, at the very least give your hair a quick rinse in the showers with your toes in the sand.
Once you can give your hair a wash, use a clarifying shampoo such as our Après Sun Hair + Body Cleanser. If you’re a daily swimmer, limit your deep-cleaning shampoo sessions to twice a week and instead use a gentle cleanser after every swim to nurture your hair’s moisture balance, like our No. 7 Non-Lather Cleanser. Always follow up with a hydrating conditioner after washing, we love the Urbanbella No.4 Hydrating Conditioner to replenish lost moisture.
Step 2: Go Easy on the Styling
When it comes to styling your natural hair after swimming, less is more. Your hair has been exposed to some elements that put it under stress, so give it a bit of a break from the additional stress of heat styling. Air drying is the best option, so try letting your Wash ‘N’ Go dry naturally. Urbanbella’s range of premium products have been carefully formulated to allow air drying while still getting your hair looking amazing. Try our Poolside -Styling Gel that contains precisely what your post-swimming hair needs to bounce back to its best self.
Step 3: Get a Protein Boost
Protein treatments are a great preventative method to help strengthen your hair post-swim, and also get it ready for an action-packed pool season ahead. This summer is going to be a hot one, so make sure your curls are ready for all the fun you can throw at it by having them strong and healthy in preparation. Adding a protein treatment to your hair care routine such as the Urbanbella No. 14 Organic Coconut Cream Repair Mask once or twice a month will nourish your hair with its potent combination of hydrating coconut oil and honey extract, while the protein protects and repairs damage.
See you in the lagoon, on the beach, and at the pool ladies! We’ll be rocking our best curls yet this summer with this Natural Hair Plan for Swimmers. And "just dipping our toes in" will be a distant memory of summers past…