Post-Swim Recovery: How To Get Chlorine & Sea Salt Out of Your Swimsuits, Skin, and Hair

Post-Swim Recovery: How To Get Chlorine & Sea Salt Out of Your Swimsuits, Skin, and Hair

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Tess Wilson
Jul 29, 2016

There is nothing more glorious than jumping into the water on a hot summer day, and while the crispy hair, dry skin, and faded swimsuits are more than worth the relief that chlorinated or salty water provides, they can be avoided by following these 14 tips.

SWIMSUITS

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse

My personal tip would be to wear your suit into a cool post-swim shower. Once you feel thoroughly rinsed, take off your suit and turn the water up to a comfortable temperature. You could conceivably rinse your suit out in the sink, but swimming is very tiring and you might not get around to it. Cleaning goddess Jolie Kerr concurs, stipulating, "You'll want to be sure to rinse out both the inside and the outside of the suit to rid it of both chlorine [or salt!] and the oils and such from your body."

Dechlorinate the Hell Out of It

Swimming World Magazine advises, "...dechlorinating drops can provide a tremendous benefit to speed suits. Dechlorinating drops are sold commercially for swimmers or you can buy dechlorinating drops for aquariums (which are usually cheaper). Fill a sink with cold water and add one to two drops of dechlorinating solution. Allow the suit to soak for 10 to 15 minutes and then remove from the solution. Do not rinse the suit after using the dechlorinating solution."

Hand Wash, Lingerie Wash, Swimsuit Wash

If you don't want to go that far, you should at least always hand wash your suits after wearing, according to Real Simple. Using a gentle lingerie cleaner is also recommended, as is using a specially formulated swimwear cleaner to "remove chlorine while restoring the brilliance of a suit’s color."

To Machine Wash or Not to Machine Wash

In regards to machine washing, swimwear company Malia Mills says, "no. no. no. no washing swimwear in a washing machine - the agitation is too hard on fibers, fabrics, straps and other components." Jolie Kerr, however, recommends hand washing while conceding, "...machine washing on cold is also A-OK. Because I am a realist. It's not a bad idea, though, to get your hands on one of those mesh zippie bags."

Avoid the Jacuzz

If you're a lucky duck with access to a hot tub, don't think, "Life is perfect, nothing can go wrong now!" Instead, heed the advice of Malia Mills: "imagine throwing your beautiful malia mills suit into a pot of extremely hot water on the stove and adding chlorine. sounds terrible right? it is! no swimsuits in a hot tub, ever. enjoy a soak wearing a suit that you don't mind trashing as the high heat and chlorine found in hot tubs will fade and deteriorate fabrics." Oh, man, isn't sexy hot tub time when you want to wear your very cutest suits?!

Yellowed? Borax to The Rescue

If your suits are yellowing, Jolie Kerr advises Jezebel readers to "incorporate a laundry booster like Borax to help keep it's whiteness. If after using Borax there's still some yellowing, soak the suit for 15 or so minutes in a sinkful of warm water with a scoop of Borax, and then, while the suit is submerged in the solution, go over the yellowed areas with a soft toothbrush."

HAIR

Freshwater First

My water polo coach taught us to soak our hair in the shower before jumping in the pool, saying that if our hair was already saturated with freshwater it was less likely to absorb chlorinated water. Bustle agrees, saying, "...you are coating your hair with non-chlorinated water which will keep your strands from soaking up every single chemical in the pool. A fresh water protective layer will also guard your hair from soaking up too much salt."

Treat Natural Hair Naturally

Afrobella's Natural Hair and Salt Water post includes a great roundup of products and tips to protect and heal natural hair—"heck, let’s just say black hair in general"—from salt, sun, and humidity. The number one trick is to mix aloe vera juice and glycerin for a pre-beach spray.

Dyed Hair? Oiled Hair

In Glamour's 7 Ways to Protect Color-Treated Hair When Swimming, "'Try coating your hair in coconut oil or olive oil before jumping in the pool,' says celebrity colorist Lorri Goddard. 'It creates a slippery barrier between your strands and harmful chlorine.'"

Olsen Twin Hair? Oiled Hair

You don't need to have dyed hair to warrant a pre-swim hair treatment. Vogue shared the Olsen twins' bespoke hair oil recipe, though the creator of the formula admits, "I have no scientific proof that it works."

Wash That Chlorine Right Outta Your Hair

Washing with a specially formulated post-swim shampoo is universally recommended. I've never bought any fancy ones, and my favorite drugstore brand is UltraSwim. Please share your favorites in the comments!

SKIN

Water Inside, Water Outside

British Swimming reminds us, "Dehydration makes skin more likely to be damaged by chlorine. It breaks down the skin's natural defences, so ensure you drink plenty of water" while swimming. You'll also want to rinse thoroughly: "...spend several minutes in the showers to ensure your skin has been thoroughly washed with fresh water and no chlorine is bound to your skin's surface."

Sometimes Water Isn't Enough

If you're looking for a specific skincare product recommendation, Health Magazine has you covered. "If you have sensitive skin or the pool happens to be highly chlorinated, you might want to use a specialty TRISWIM Body Washand TRISWIM Lotion. They work together to neutralize chlorine, remove odors and add moisture to the skin."

JEWELS

Take special care of your fabulous jewels when you're swimming! According to The Hairpin's excellent Ask A Jeweler feature, "The chlorine in pools can potentially dissolve metals used in fine and costume jewelry, plus it’s bad for all those gems [amber, coral, jet, shell, pearl, turquoise, opals, emeralds, lapis lazuli, malachite, enamel pieces, and peridots] that don’t even like to get shampoo on them. Don’t worry if you do dip your jewels in the pool occasionally, as long as you rinse them off with clean water shortly after so the chlorine won’t have time to do any damage."

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