Are you done having brittle, dried out and damaged hair after swimming? Here are the best shampoos for swimmers to get the chlorine out of their hair. Let’s go!
Crushing laps in the pool is a killer way to get an awesome workout.
Whether competitive or recreational, getting in the water and banging out some laps is a full-body workout that slays calories, is low impact, and can be meditative.
But then you got that whole pesky chlorine in the hair thing that leaves your hairdo dried out, in tatters, and smelly.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
We’re going to cover some of the best shampoos for swimmers to get the chlorine out of your hair.
Swimmers, Shampoo, Hair & Chlorine FAQ
But first, some general questions that we field often about chlorine, our hair, swim caps, and more:
🏊 What’s the deal with chlorine? Most swimming pools are treated with chlorine. There are three main reasons pools are treated: Chlorine keeps algae from growing, zaps unwanted bacteria and disease-causing pathogens, and also nukes foreign and unwanted contaminants. Without chlorine (or other pool-cleaning chemicals like bromine) it wouldn’t be possible to swim laps without the pool turning into a petri-dish of germs and assorted nastiness.
🏊 What does chlorine do to my hair? Chlorine makes your hair brittle, dried out, tangled, and in some extreme cases extended chlorine exposure will cause your hair to thin and fall out. When we swim around in chlorinated water the hair absorbs the chlorine, stripping it of sebum a natural oil that is basically nature’s conditioner. Repeated exposure and sebum depletion leads our hair to crack, with split ends and general unhappiness to follow.
🏊 Does swimming in chlorine make my hair turn green? Chlorine doesn’t directly cause your hair to turn green from repeated pool exposure, but it does help. The green color (which happens to everyone but is most visible with lighter-colored hair) is from oxidized heavy metals (mostly copper) that get into the cracks of the hair cuticle. When the hair cuticle gets damaged from lots and lots of swimming in chlorine, those heavy metals find more places to get in and hang out, discoloring the hair. Swimmer shampoos are typically designed to help with this particular problem of restoring hair color.
🏊 Does wearing a swim cap help keep chlorine out my hair? For swimmers who have short hair, wearing a silicone or latex swim cap can seem like it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when it doesn’t keep your head and hair totally dry. But swim caps do more than just keep hair out of your face, your hair out of the pool (filters, gutters, and floating around in clumps—gross), and make ya look good (usually). They also keep your hair from getting drenched in chlorinated water for the duration of your swim!
🏊 I heard putting shampoo or oil in my hair before I swim will help—true? Chlorine in itself hasn’t been shown to be that dangerous when it comes to pool treatment—it’s the derivatives of it that occur when foreign substances enter the pool and interact with it (namely, chloramines). So yes, applying shampoo (or conditioner or oil) before you swim will leave your hair slightly more protected, but you will also be spilling a stinky-butt oil slick into the pool that makes it harder for everyone else to breathe. So yeah. Please don’t be that swimmer. You can get some of the effects by simply showering before getting into the water—not only are you rinsing off sweat, deodorants, etc, but your hair takes on less pool water and chlorine when it’s already wet.
The Best Chlorine Removal Shampoos for Swimmers
Alright, let’s get after it and list out our best picks for top swimmer shampoos!
1. UltraSwim Shampoo & Conditioner for Swimmers.
⭐ Best overall pick
This shampoo has been around for as long as I can literally remember—one of my first memories of age-group swimming was watching the older swimmers on my team using this shampoo.
It’s at the top of my list because it’s been my old reliable for years and years. The shampoo removes the chlorine that is knuckled up to your hair, while the conditioner helps replenish the natural oils in your hair so that your hair feels soft and human again. It’s also fairly cheap and the bottles come in small enough sizes that they can be easily stashed in your swim bag.
UltraSwim sells these in a shampoo-conditioner pack, with both bottles containing 7-ounces of chlorine-busting goodness. Each 2-pack retails for around $17 (check Amazon for current pricing and availability).
2. Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three.
This is more of a “designer” brand of shampoo, but equally as effective as the UltraSwim. The shampoo was actually recommended to me by a stylist friend who recommends clients who use a lot of product in their hair (hairspray, etc) to use this particular shampoo to flush chemicals from hair strands. It works just as effectively with chlorine, bromine, or whatever else your local pool is treated with.
For best results, (and this goes for all the shampoos in this list), leave the product in your hair for a couple of minutes to let it do its thang. I know that we are typically in a rush after practice to get on with our day and get some food in ourselves, but swimmer shampoos are most effective when we allow them a chance to work.
This shampoo is available in a variety of sizes, including a 33-ounce size which makes it ideal for showering off the chlorine at home, and the last time I checked cost about $25 (check Amazon for current pricing and shipping options).
3. Malibu C Swimmer’s Shampoo
Top marks for smell, but down-voted for the conditioner not being so awesome.
The shampoo works as advertised, removing chlorine from the hair and restoring the lusciousness of what remains of the hair on my head. The shampoo is essentially a Vitamin C blend, making it gentle on your hair and excellent for replenishing hair after swimming in hard water or chemically-treated pools.
Found that I had to use more of this stuff to make it truly effective, for whatever that is worth. A little pricier than the Paul Mitchell Shampoo, and doesn’t quite have the pedigree of UltraSwim, but still highly regarded by long-time users.
The Malibu C Swimmers Shampoo retails for $15 for a 9-ounce bottle (click here for current pricing and shipping options on Amazon).
4. Solpri Swimmer’s Shampoo and Chlorine
The main ingredient in Solpri Swimmer’s Shampoo is Vitamin C. Not because you might have a cold coming on, or because it’s made of oranges, but because vitamin C works at ticking and breaking down chlorine from your hair (and skin). The shampoo and conditioner are a part of a 3-stage chlorine removal and revitalization program that includes a vitamin C-based swim lotion (aka moisturizer).
I like that it’s mostly natural ingredients in this set of products, and who doesn’t need some more vitamin C in their lives?
Solpri sells the shampoo separately or packaged with a restorative conditioner for around $25 (click here for today’s pricing and more reviews on Amazon).
5. TRISWIM Chlorine Removal Shampoo
This product is part of a chlorine-removal series that includes shampoo, chlorine, and a body wash that all tickle and rinse chlorine, bromine, saltwater, or whatever else your local swim pool is treated with.
I love the plastic cap on this bottle as it makes it easier to close and prevents leaks in your swim bag or toiletry bag while you are shuffling to the pool and back.
An 8.5-ounce bottle runs for just $12, making it a low-cost option for your shampooing chlorine-damaged hair (click here for current pricing on Amazon).