Nothing beats a relaxing swim at the end of the day. Or on a hot sunny afternoon. Or early in the morning… Hell, nothing beats a swim. It’s an amazing form of exercise and a fabulous stress buster. But a lot women refrain from entering a pool as the chlorine and sun can play havoc with skin and hair. Don’t let anything ruin the joys of swimming. Here are the ways to make sure your skin and hair don’t have to take the plunge every time you do.
1. Pick the right time.
Don’t hit the pool mid-day when the sun is at its highest and worst. Instead choose the rising or setting sun. Anything before 9am or after 5pm is perfect. You get the good effects of the sun (like your daily dose of Vitamin C) without the really harsh ones.
2. Oil or condition your hair.
When chlorine, water and the sun come together, your hair takes a real dive.
But the good news is you do not have to get ‘swimmer’s hair’ – dry, brittle and lifeless. Simply oil or condition your hair BEFORE the swim. Then just put on your swimming cap. The oil or conditioner acts as a barrier and prevents the water and chlorine from entering your hair. If you have coloured hair, the oil even prevents the chlorine from ruining your colour and turning it green! And the best part, your hair gets softer in the process.
Tip: I prefer oiling versus conditioning. The reason: you can put the oil directly on the scalp and massage it in. This not only conditions but also to improves hair growth and texture. Another advantage, it helps remove any dandruff.
Tip: If you’re feeling lazy, just use any drugstore deep conditioning mask and apply directly on dry hair. No need to wet hair. Just stay away from the scalp. Then use a water resistant scrunchie to secure your hair so that it doesn’t slide off.
3. Put a cap on it.
Never and I repeat NEVER enter a pool without a swimming cap. This applies for guys too. The swimming cap was the best invention after the bikini, though maybe not as tempting. It locks in the conditioning treatment in your hair, prevents the chlorinated water from entering and doesn’t let the sun in, so you don’t get those brittle dry-as-hay natural highlights that make you look years older.
4. Sunscreen, sunscreen, and then some more.
Don’t even think about entering a pool without a thick coating of sunscreen. You see, UV damage is much worse in water than on land. So make sure, you’re properly covered unless you want to be covered with spots and pigmentation. A broad spectrum water resistant sunscreen with a minimum of SPF50 is a must. And use a dollar-sized amount on your face and a shot-glass amount on the rest of your body. Places we neglect tend to be the ears, back of the neck, armpits and feet – making these areas look darker and older in the long run.
Tip: For the pool, the greasier the sunscreen the better. This helps keep your skin moist – so less ‘prune-ing’, while also giving you a golden and even tan.
Tip: Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before a swim to give the ingredients time to start working. Swimming before that time period will most likely wash it right off, rendering it ineffective.
5. Night swimmers, get oily.
If you think that just because you don’t swim during the day, your skin is safe, think again. The chlorine in the water is super drying and will prune you up in no time. The more often your skin is dry, the sooner it will age. So slather your skin with any oil of your choice (olive, coconut or almond oil) before immersing into the blue.
6. Protect your puckers.
Your skin and hair aren’t the only things getting super dry. Your lips are actually the first to chap. Use a lip balm that contains petroleum jelly or beeswax to prevent the water from drying your lips. Oh, and make sure it has SPF too.
7. Jackie O for the eau.
You wouldn’t hit the beach without sunglasses, so then why the pool? Protect your eyes with UV swimming glasses that not only protect those peepers (and the sensitive skin below it) but also look so damn cool.
8. Just to clarify and deep condition.
Now that you’ve enjoyed the pleasures of being in the pool, it’s time to wash the gunk right off your hair. Always use a generous amount of clarifying shampoo after a swim. And leave it in for 3 minutes before rinsing it off thoroughly to make sure all the chlorine is out. Now use a quality conditioner and leave it in for over 5 minutes to nourish and soften your hair.
Natural Tip: Add apple cider vinegar to the last rinse of your hair. It removes product buildup in your hair that makes it look flat .The vinegar also closes the hair cuticle, allowing light to reflect off of it. In other words, it makes your hair super shiny!
9. Scrub it all off.
If you’ve got a tan, exfoliation actually makes your skin catch a great colour. Even if you haven’t tanned, you should use a scrub to remove all the chlorine and germs from every nook and cranny on your skin. It also removes all the dry flaky bits, leaving you with smooth silky skin. I like using a moisturizing body wash with a loofah, followed by a good body scrub. I prefer those made oil and sugar or oatmeal. Scrub your entire body from feet upward and rinse off to reveal skin that’s smooth and glowing like the sun.
10. Seal the deal.
Nothing makes a tan glow the way moisturising lotion does. But not any moisturizer will do. Use one with creamy cocoa butter. It may be greasy, but it puts back all the nutrients the sun and chlorine took out, while making your tan look absolutely fab. If the weather is just too hot, use aloe vera gel. It cools, soothes and calms your skin, while also bringing out a beautiful colour.
Go on now, make a big splash 😉