Mer-Care for Mer-Hair

Part of being a mermaid is having fabulous hair. However, swimming is not always kind to hair. Chlorinated pools, pollutants, and sea water can leave your hair feeling sticky, nasty, and well... very un-mermaid. Pool water especially can bleach the color from your hair, turn it green, and cause severe damage and can result in several inches having to be cut off.

Is there anyway to save your hair then? Yes!

Before You Swim
There are several different things you can do to your hair before you go swimming that will help keep some of the chlorine or salt water from getting into your hair. This will not make your hair chlorine or salt water proof, but these few tricks are better than nothing for hair protection. Never put so much of the stuff reccomended below into your hair that you can see it. People will not want you swimming with them if there are visible globs of conditioner on your head.

~Put Oil In Your Hair

I don't mean motor oil of course! Something like coconut oil, olive oil, or whatever oil works best for your hair type. This will help repel some of the water and keep it from entering your hair. This works best when the hair is oiled then put into a braid.

~Soak Your Hair in Fresh Water First

If your hair is already saturated with fresh water, there will be no room for the chlorine or salt water to get into your hair. That does not mean your hair wont be weird feeling when you are done swimming like normal and that you wont need to clean it. You will, of course, but this is another method of hair protection.

~Conditioner Treatment
Another method is to perform a conditioner only wash before you get into the pool. The more cones*, the better! This will coat your hair with cones and help keep the chlorine and other chemicals out... or at least slow them down. If you do not like cones, this may not be the treatment for you or you can use a clarifying shampoo after you swim to get rid of them.

~Swimmer's Spray
Some hair companies make a spray that you can put into your hair before you go swimming to help prevent chlorine damage. While this personally has not been as effective as some of the other methods above, it is nonetheless a way to help keep your hair safe in the pool.

While You Swim
With the preventative measures done, you may think you are ready to jump on into the pool. You have to take more measures to make sure your hair is safe from damage while you are in the water.

"But LittleOrca, that is what the stuff we just did was for, wasn't it?"

Yes of course, but in the pool you have to continue to minimize the amount of water that gets into your hair. How do you do that? I am glad you asked.

~The Swim Cap
The swim cap is one of the best ways to keep the water off your hair. While this will not keep your hair dry or 100% safe from the chlorine water, it will keep the majority of it out. This also reduces drag in the water and will make you more stream lined. Most swim caps are made from silicone, but there are a few that are latex or other material. They also come in different sizes, so make sure you get the right one based on any allergies and your hair length.

~Bunned Hair
Don't like swim caps? No problem. How about a bun? If you have waterproof hair sticks (preferable small and plastic), you can put your hair in a small bun, like a nautilus bun, and slide the stick on through. This will not keep your hair as safe from the pool or ocean water as a swim cap will, but with less surface area for the water to make contact with the better off your hair will be.

~Braided Hair
This is similar to the bunned hair method in reducing the surface area for the water to make contact with your hair. This will leave more of the hair unprotected than the bun or swim cap, but this is better than the last option.

~Free Flowing Hair
Remember when I said that you thought you were ready to just jump into the pool and I said you were wrong? Well, you can be right. I do swim with my hair free flowing in the pool or in other water, but only when I am doing videos or taking photographs of me in my tail. While I do the treatments I mentioned before this section, I will say that I have noticed my hair feels worse and takes longer to clean when it is free flowing versus even just a braid.

After You Swim
Once you are out of the pool or ocean, you need to clean your hair as soon as possible. Depending on how you protected your hair, your hair type, your length, and where you were swimming will depend on how long it takes to clean. The following are some ways to clean out your hair.

~Special Shampoos and Conditioners
There are some companies that make swim products that will remove the chlorine from your hair. As I have discovered, not all products are created equal and some products will require more of it to clean your hair than others. If you have a product that works for you, stick with it. There is no need to shop around for a new item, unless it is not cleaning your hair effectively or you are using a whole bottle each time you swim.

~ACV Rinses
Using an ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse after you swim can help to further clean out any chemicals and help to stop any damages. This, from my experience, should be used with a Swimmer's Shampoo and Conditioner not instead of it. The ACV should be diluted with water so that it helps your hair instead of harms it. [ACV should be diluted to about 1-2 tablespoons per cup of water.)

~Club Soda
For some swimmers, the use of club soda or other carbonated waters is what they prefer to an ACV rinse. It is roughly the same thing, though you do not have to dilute the club soda and it will not leave your hair with a vinegar smell (though you should rinse your hair with water after the ACV so that there is little to no smell anyways.) Be sure to get unflavored and unsweetened club soda. The last thing you need is ants in your hair.

LittleOrca's Method
This is the method by which I take care of my hair for swimming. For the sake of simplicity, assume that this is a time when I am swimming with my hair free flowing for a video shoot.

  • Pre-treat my hair with a combination of oil and some swimmer's spray.
  • Swim. (Duh. )
  • Rinse hair after swimming with water at the pool (if available, but I wash at home generally because my water is better quality).
  • Wash hair with Ion Swimmer's Shampoo and Conditioner.
  • Wash hair with Garnier Shampoo and Conditioner (or sometimes Aussie).
  • Rinse hair with diluted ACV.
  • Rinse hair with water to get rid of ACV smell.
  • Allow hair to air dry.

This method works well for me, someone with two-toned hair (part natural, part dyed). This may not work well for everyone and you may even need to wash more than once with the swimmer's shampoo and conditioner depending on your hair.

I hope this helps all the swimmers out there protect their hair. I know that not everything works for everyone, but these are some great places to start to keep your hair safe as you enjoy your time in the water.

(Repost of my article on swimmer's hair from another forum I belong to about long hair care.)

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When I mention "cones" I am not speaking about ice cream cones or what-have-you, I am speaking about the chemicals found in some conditioners that end in -cone, the big one being dimethelcone. These are the chemicals that "repair split ends" (well, all they do is put a chemical coating over your hair [think Teflon] and give your hair the appearance of repaired ends; the only way to repair a split end is to cut of off) and repeated use of them can cause build-up in your hair, which is why they make clarifying shampoos.