Skip to Content

Does Chlorine Damage Hair? | Yes! Here’s Why

Does Chlorine Damage Hair? | Yes! Here’s Why

Most pools contain chlorine because it is a disinfectant. Besides killing germs and other viruses, does chlorine damage hair? Read on to find out.

What Is Chlorine and Does It Damage Hair?

Chlorine is a chemical used as a bleaching agent and disinfectant in drinking water and swimming pools. Frequent exposure to chlorinated water will damage your hair because it makes it weak and dry, causing breakage.

Since most of our tap water contains chlorine, you may wonder whether taking long showers may compromise your hair’s health. However, while regular taps do not have sufficient chlorine to affect your hair, you should be worried about your swimming pool water.

Swimming daily can irritate your hair and damage your scalp. However, it is possible to protect your hair, and we have highlighted several ways you can do this. Keep reading to learn all you need to know.

How Chlorine Affects Your Hair

So, what is the science behind chlorine damaging your hair? Your hair contains amino acids, which aid in strengthening it. Chlorine usually breaks down these amino acids, reducing the hair’s natural strength.

It also absorbs the hair’s natural oil causing it to become dry and brittle, leading to hair breakage. Other ways chlorine affects your hair include:

  • It makes your hair very porous
  • It may lead to itchiness
  • It can damage your hair strands

Who Is Most Vulnerable to Chlorine Hair Damage

Chlorine can damage anyone’s hair, especially if you are a regular swimmer. However, some people are more susceptible to chlorine hair damage than others. They include people with:

  • Color-treated hair
  • Dry and thin hair
  • Bleached hair
  • Already damaged hair

Read Next: Can You Swim in a Pool With Colored Hair?

Ways to Protect Your Hair from Chlorine Damage

Woman wondering does chlorine damage hair and putting on a swim cap


You can protect your hair from chlorine damage in various ways. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Pre-Soak Your Hair Before Swimming

It is a swimming etiquette to shower before entering the pool. However, some ignore this rule, which causes your hair to absorb chlorine. However, pre-soaking your hair before swimming allows it to absorb clean, non-chlorinated water.

This reduces the chances of your hair absorbing chlorine and breaking. You should also wash your hair after swimming to eradicate the absorbed chlorine.

Use Natural Oils

If you swim frequently, you can apply various natural oils to your hair, such as coconut, olive, and jojoba oil. These oils will prevent your hair strands from absorbing chlorine and other chemicals in the pool. Apply these natural oils before swimming and wash your hair with non-chlorinated water.

Use a Swim Cap

Our Top Pick
Silicone Swimming Cap
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Wearing a swim cap is an effective way to protect your hair from chlorine damage, especially if you are a professional swimmer. However, you should note that swim caps will not keep your hair dry when swimming.

Wet your hair before wearing the cap to ensure it fits perfectly for the best chlorine protection. You should also ensure it covers all your hair for maximum protection.

Buy a Swim Spray

Our Top Pick
TRIHARD Pre & Post Swim Conditioner
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

The primary benefit of using a swim spray is that it forms a protective layer on your hair, thus preventing chlorine from stripping away your hair’s natural oil and moisture. This product mainly benefits those with blonde hair who fear chlorinated water may discolor it.

Stick to Outdoor Swimming Pools

Go swimming in outdoor pools if you are a regular swimmer. Since these pools are outdoors, the chlorine evaporates faster than indoor pools, minimizing chlorine concentration in the water. It eventually reduces your hair’s chlorine absorption.

How to Remove Chlorine From Your Hair

Lady rinsing her hair in a shower outdoors because chlorine damages hair

Milos Nakovic/Shutterstock

Have you forgotten to take various measures to protect your hair from chlorine damage? Do not despair because there are steps you can take to remove the absorbed chlorine. Here are the steps you should follow.

1. Rinse Your Hair Immediately After Swimming

You should rinse your hair with non-chlorinated water immediately after you exit the pool. It cleans out the chlorine and other contaminants in your hair.

The chlorine may settle in your hair if you wait for a long-time before rinsing it. This is a precautionary measure, especially if you live far away from the swimming pool, and it may take a while to get home to wash your hair.

2. Wash Your Hair With Shampoo

Washing your hair is the best way to remove chlorine. Apply the shampoo to your hair and massage your hair thoroughly to ensure the shampoo covers all the parts of your hair.

Rinse the hair and repeat the process if you still suspect you have yet to eradicate all the chlorine. One pro tip is to use shampoos specifically designed to remove chlorine when washing your hair.

3. Condition Your Hair

At this point, you have removed the absorbed chlorine from your hair, but you must replace the hair’s natural moisture and protein. Since your hair is already wet, apply a small amount of conditioner to your hair.

Spread the conditioner evenly on your head, but do not apply it on the scalp. Run your fingers through the hair up to the hair ends to ensure the conditioner covers every part of your hair.

Wait for a few minutes before rinsing the conditioner. Conditioning your hair after washing is imperative since it soothes dry hair and prevents split ends.

4. Comb Your Hair Gently

Dry your hair with a clean towel and comb it to untangle and smoothen it.

Signs of Chlorine Damaged Hair

You may not realize that your hair is damaged after swimming on the first day, but frequent chlorine exposure will lead to noticeable hair changes. Here are some of the signs of chlorine-damaged hair:

  • Discoloration. This is common, especially for those with blonde hair. For those with dark hair, their hair will start lightening.
  • Dry and brittle hair. This may be a sign of chlorine-damaged hair, and you should act fast because your hair will be susceptible to breakage and split ends.
  • Frizzled hair. If damaged, your hair may lose its shine or appear more fried than usual.
  • Poor scalp health. Poor scalp health is the final sign of chlorine-damaged hair. The most common symptoms are scalp itchiness and inflammation.

How to Fix Your Chlorine Damaged Hair

You shouldn’t worry if you have chlorine-damaged hair because there are various measures you can implement to fix it. Let’s discuss these measures in detail.

1. Consult a Hairstylist

Consult a professional if your hair is severely damaged. These experts will evaluate your hair’s condition and advise you on the best hair treatment products.

They will also cut your hair to remove the damaged ends and style it to make it more appealing. Follow the hairstylist’s instructions and be patient with the treatment since your hair will take time to recover.

2. Use the Nioxin Scalp Therapy Conditioner

Our Top Pick
Nioxin System 1 Scalp Therapy Conditioner
Check Latest Price
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Frequent exposure to chlorine absorbs your scalp’s moisture, leading to a dry scalp. It makes it hard for the scalp to support your hair follicles, which causes them to shrink.

However, the Nioxin scalp therapy conditioner will restore your scalp’s moisture balance, boosting its health. Use this conditioner two or three times a week to wash your hair.

3. Condition Your Hair

Condition your hair a few times a week if you are dealing with chlorine-damaged hair. The main benefit is that it seals your hair moisture and smoothens the split ends. Coconut oil conditioner is the best option for your chlorine-damaged hair.

4. Clarify Your Hair 

There is a high chance of chlorine building up in your hair if you still swim without a swim cap. This will worsen your chlorine-damaged hair.

You should clarify your hair using a clarifying shampoo to wash out the chlorine. An apple cider vinegar rinse is a good DIY solution to clarify your hair.

5. Use Protein Treatments

Use protein treatments frequently because they will help restore your hair’s protein, thus improving your hair’s strength. However, consult an expert to know the right treatment based on your hair’s condition.

Read Next: Take Our Short “Does My Hair Need Protein” Quiz!

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman putting on goggles getting ready to go for a swim and wondering does chlorine damage hair


Here are the most frequently asked questions on chlorine-damaged hair.

Does chlorine cause hair loss?

Swimming regularly in chlorinated pool water will not cause hair loss. However, wear a swim cap to protect your hair from chlorine damage.

Will chlorine make my hair look better?

Chlorine will not improve your hair because it absorbs its natural oils and moisture. This leads to hair breakage.

How often should you wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner if you swim daily?

You should regulate your usage of shampoos and conditioners if you swim daily. Use these products two or three times a week to avoid chlorine buildup.

Can you reverse chlorine damage?

Yes, chlorine damage is reversible. The best way to reverse it is to wash your hair thoroughly to remove the chlorine buildup. Continue washing your hair thoroughly after each swimming session.

Should you always wear a swimming cap before entering a pool?

Yes, a swim cap is the best way to protect your hair from chlorine damage.

So, Does Chlorine Damage Hair?

Frequent exposure to chlorine will damage your hair. But, if you take the right steps,  you don’t have to skip the pool altogether. The best way to protect your hair is to buy a swimming spray, use natural oils, and pre-soak your hair. Happy swimming!