GEAR,  Gear Advice,  Product Reviews

Does your hair suffer from regular chlorine or salt exposure?

We put TRIHARD’s hair care range to the test to see if it really does eliminate the negative effects of pool chemicals and ocean salts on your hair. Plus, readers share their pre and post swim routines to protect their hair from regular chlorine damage.

Get 30% OFF plus an extra 5% off with code HAIRCARE

Between pool and lake swims and taking my daughter to pre-school swimming classes, I’m in and out of the water around three times per week. Thankfully, despite this regular exposure to chlorine my scalp doesn’t often feel itchy like it does for many swimmers, but I do suffer from dry hair, particularly at this time of year as the weather starts to take its toll. Plus my my skin smells of chlorine most days, which isn’t ideal. And yet I feel too busy to build a hair and skin care routine into my regular trips to the pool – in fact, until now, I haven’t ever tried a specialist swimmers’ shampoo. 

It seems I’m not alone. We recently polled Outdoor Swimmer readers and while 51% of our followers said they suffered from itchy and dry skin after a pool swim and 72% said their skin smelled like chlorine throughout the day, only 19% had ever tried a specialist hair or skin product after a pool swim – even though almost 60% said they would be up for trying one! It feels like a neglected part of our pre and post swim routine, one that could so easily be improved with some specialist swimmers’ hair care products and a few simple changes of habit.

The importance of a pre and post swim hair care routine

While it keeps our pools and lidos free from bacteria, chlorinated water can wreck havoc with your hair, stripping it of its natural oils (sebum), weakening hair strands leading to split ends and even changing the colour of your hair. While the odd swim won’t have much noticeable effect, regular exposure to chlorine can leave your hair feeling dry, dull and brittle while some people suffer from tight, dry and itchy scalp too. 

This is where hair care tailored specifically to swimmers comes in. Although the name might suggest its for triathletes, TRIHARD products are actually for anyone who spends time in pools or the sea whether that’s for serious training, recreational dipping or teaching kids to swim. 

Their hair care products promise to remove chlorine and saltwater from your hair and scalp, relieving irritation caused by pool chemicals. The TRIHARD Swimmers Shampoo Extra Boost uses red algae alongside Dead Sea minerals such as magnesium chloride and Maris gel to eliminate pool chemicals and that lingering chlorine smell, while naturally derived oils such as argan, jojoba and shea oil hydrate dry hair. Meanwhile aloe vera, sea buckthorn oil and red algae relieves your irritated scalp and peppermint extract creates a cooling, energising effect. 

Combine the shampoo with TRIHARD’s Pre & Post Swim Conditioner, which you can comb through your hair before you swim to neutralise chlorine absorption and use in the shower afterwards to restore texture, eliminate chlorine scent and hydrate dry hair, and it should leave your hair feeling fresh and clean, while retaining its natural oils. Although the obvious benefits are for pool swimmers, TRIHARD Shampoo and Conditioner works the same way in saltwater and hardwater, too. 

Putting the TRIHARD hair combo to the test

Trying TRIHARD’s hair combo after a morning swim in the pool, the Swimmers Shampoo Extra Boost felt thick and lathered well and the menthol extracts felt instantly enlivening. After rinsing thoroughly, I smoothed on the conditioner and left it for as long as possible while I finished my shower, then rinsed and rushed on with my day. Even after one use, my hair felt softer and smelled clean. 

Having used it for a fortnight, my hair feels much less dry and I no longer smell of chlorine! After polling Outdoor Swimmer readers, I’ve also been including some of their tips into my pre and post swim routine: wetting my hair before putting on my swim cap and letting my hair dry naturally afterwards. Next time I’m going to try combing the TRIHARD Pre and Post Swim Conditioner through my hair before a swim to see if that has an effect, too. It’s really not been much more to do, but it’s made a real difference and I’m looking forward to seeing the longer term results on my hair and scalp.

Outdoor Swimmer reader’s tips for hair care

We polled our readers to find out more about their hair care routines. Here are just a few of their tips for protecting their hair from the effects of pools chemicals – alongside a few of our own. 

  • Prevention is key. Dry hair is like a sponge that soaks up the chlorinated water. Try rinsing your hair with cold, clean water before you enter the pool, says Jo Cheesbrough (@jocheesey), who put in 20 hours a week for 15 years as a swim instructor. 
  • Once you’ve wet your hair, comb through some conditioner, which acts as a barrier to stop chlorine sitting on your hair. 
  • Wear a swim cap. Its your first line of defence against chlorine. Wetting your hair first will help it fit more easily over your hair. 
  • Shower immediately after your swim, preferably naked. This is the key to reducing itchy and dry skin says Rowan Clarke (@_finsandgoggles_), who taught babies to swim for 11 years. “I used a sulphate-free shampoo with a silicone-free conditioner, combing a little bit of conditioner through my hair afterwards and not washing it out.”
  • After washing your hair with swimmers’ shampoo, apply a conditioner and leave it in for as long as you can to add back in the moisture the chlorine has stripped out. 
  • Let your hair dry naturally; blow driers will dry your hair out more. 
  • Swim in outdoor pools! Chlorine gas evaporates from the water faster outdoors, reducing the concentration in the water and the amount of chlorine being absorbed into your hair and skin.

Now is a great time to try out TRIHARD hair care products for yourself as you can currently get 30% OFF site wide plus an extra 5% with the code HAIRCARE. Take a look at their hair combo bundles, too, as Christmas gifts for the swimmers in your life!

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.