How to protect your natural hair after swimming in the pool or sea

A woman doesn't worry about her hair as she floats in the water
A woman doesn't worry about her hair as she floats in the water

It’s already holiday season, which means coastal breaks and pool outings for many.

For those of us who are still at work, we're maximising time by a pool (friend's, yours or communal) or seaside dips after work if you're lucky to live in cities like Durban, PE, East London and Cape Town until our escape.

READ MORE: What you should know before colouring your hair

I get a little anxious around this time because I haven't figured out how to protect my natural hair when I swim. I’ve worn my afro out the most I ever have this year and dry hair has already been the bane of my existence.

Won't chlorine or salt make it worse?

So I recently sat down with Thokozile Mangwiro, an IT specialist turned natural hair connoisseur – and founder of the Nilotiqa hair care brand, who's all about real hydration.

Thokozile, just like me, has struggled with dryness herself and has dedicated her time into conducting research of how natural hair can be effectively moisturised. She's shared a few pointers on how to retain moisture in my hair as I prepare to go be one with the water these holidays.

READ MORE: "They never knew what to do with my hair"

When it comes to the pool, according to, if you swim regularly the repeated drying from the chlorine can cause your hair's protective cuticles to crack, which results in split ends and frequent breakage.

The article notes: “When the hair becomes wet with chlorinated water, the hair shafts absorb the chlorine, which strips the hair of its natural lubricant, called sebum.

READ MORE: Ingredients in natural hair products that are actually bad for you

What can you do to prevent real damage?

Thokozile says there are three things you can do.

1. CO WASH: Hair shouldn’t be left to air dry after a swim and should be washed immediately after so you can help replenish your hair and scalp's moisture. And because chlorine strips hair of moisture. She suggests washing it off with a conditioner rather than a shampoo that may dry your hair further.

2. USE A MASK: Focus on weekly maintenance of your hair “so that it doesn’t get a change to get dry”. 

READ MORE: Use a t-shirt to dry and other great #washday tips for your natural hair

“So if I go swimming, [what] I’ll do afterwards is deep condition almost immediately. If you swim everyday – try and replenish all the oils you’ve lost in the water once a week,” says Thokozile. 

3. MOISTURISE DAILY: “If you go for two weeks with dry hair your hair is going to break the next week. Use a butter to nourish and seal in that moisture even if your hair is slightly damp.

These hair replenishing steps are definitely worth a try this summer. 

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