Hair Growth Series Bonus: Swimming and Dry Sports

July 21, 2011 Oyibo Princess
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So, as I promised, I am writing a bonus post on hair care and hair growth (length retention) since I have been so….janky? Ratched? What are the kids saying these days? Haha. Anyway. This is actually a post I should have written a while ago, maybe the end of May, to get people prepared for the summer. This post is about swimming and sports hair care. “Why is this useful?” you may ask. Well for one thing summer and swimming go together like bitter leaf soup and amala. Or should I say milk and cookies? You can have milk without cookies or cookies without milk, but they will not be as good separately (at least to me). Same with amala and bitter leaf soup. Same with swimming and summer.  Additionally, the “dry” sport and swimming regimens have the last few steps in common.
Thirdly and more importantly, chlorine and sweat can dry the hair and what is it that I said in a previous post? Dryness equals breakage and hair length is not so much about hair growth but length retention. How can you maintain length if the hair breaks? Chlorine/Sweat = dryness = breakage = damaged hair = less hair growth. Therefore swimming = shorter, damaged hair. And let’s be honest: short hair can be cute but not when extremely damaged.
But not to worry! “There’s hope. Doesn’t cost a thing to smile. You don’t have to pay to laugh. You better thank God for that.” Sorry. Sorry. Not really related, it is a song. I think in songs. Anyway. As I was saying, there is hope for the avid or even occasional swimmers and “dry sport” athletes who also want long hair. In fact, the increased oxygen in your blood that results from regular exercise can promote hair growth but that is another story for another day. These swimming tips can go for natural, relaxed, pressed, kinky, curly, naturally straight hair. In fact, I would say that relaxed girls need these tips the most since relaxed hair is most prone to chlorine damage since that hair goes through more changes in pH than anyone else. As for the “dry” sports tips, I would not recommend them for women who want to maintain heat-derived straight styles.

Disclaimer:  The tips below do not help to maintain heat-derived styles or any styles but simply help to prevent hair damage.
Suggested Swimming Regimen

  1. Before you get intp the pool go to the shower (most pools should have these), using the shower head, srun lukewarm or cold water over your hair water for 3 minutes (just count 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi… until you get to 180 Mississippi).
  2.  Put olive oil, cocoa nut oil, or a conditioner on the hair.
  3. If your hair is longer and out put it in a high bun or ponytail.  Soak the (ouchless) bands in oil before usain or use a tool that does not put stress on the hair.
  4.  Don a swimming cap…or not.
  5. SWIM! Yay!!!
  6. Immediately after you are finished repeat step one.
  7. Put a cheap conditioner like Herbal Essence Hello Hydration or Suave Cocoa Nut conditioner in a spray bottle with water and fasten the top.
  8. Spray the conditioner-water mix on the hair.
  9. Rinse out
  10.  Condition briefly if desired.
  11. Style by stretching (braiding, banding, twisting).  If the hair already braided this last step is not necessary.  In fact, box braids, corn rows, etc. are pretty well-maintained during swimming, but still complete steps 1-9.

Ok. For:

  1. The problem with chlorine is that it gets inside the hair cuticle and you do not want chlorine inside your hair cuticle because it will try the hair. This is a problem especially for the most porous of hair. If the cuticle has water inside, the chlorine is less likely to penetrate the cuticle. It is true that water can also cause the hair to burst by entering the cuticle but water is always better than chlorine.  Also, you do not want to use really hot water, because like an undesirable pH level, high temperatures can cause the cuticle to open and therefore causes the hair to be vulnerable to breakage.
  2. Olive oil and cocoa nut oil are both anti-humectants which prevents water (and sometimes other substances) from entering the cuticle. I am not really sure about the leave-in conditioner. Just heard the tip somewhere and it can’t hurt.
  3. If you wear your hair down and out in the pool it may tangle which will be annoying to detangle and may cause breakage. Braids and cornrows are a good hair style for swimming.
  4.  Use a cap so that the oils will not get into the pool. Then again it may be okay, but you will have the best hair results with cap.
  5. Well. That’s what you came to the pool for. Abi? (Am I right?)
  6. You want to rinse the chlorine off really well.
  7. You may not have to use a special shampoo since you already took great measures to prevent the chlorine from penetrating the hair. Plus the swimmer’s shampoos can be really drying. Drying equals breakage. I cannot say that enough.
  8.  Same.
  9.  Same.
  10. Who has the time to deep condition at the swimming pool for 15 minutes to an hour? Go home! Get something to eat. You are probably hungry after all of that swimming.
  11. This prevents tangles and therefore breakage

Extra bonus: Sometimes after swimming, I spray Aloe Vera juice on the hair to restore the optimal pH level necessary for preventing breakage (4-4.5).  The best pH for a safe pool is 7.4-7.6 while anything below 7 is considered corrosive and not safe.  This not good for any head of hair because the natural acid mantle for healthy hair that will not break is 4-5.5 which would be way past corrosive for a pool.  This is why I recommend Aloe Vera for afterwards.

I will also say that some pools are switching to salt water.  Salt is less dangerous to the body but still dangerous to the hair.

Also if you have relaxed hair, I do not recommend staying in the sun after swimming because Relaxer + Chlorine + Sun = Disaster.

For dry sports:
As I said before salt from the sweat can dry the hair and we do not want that. However shampoo can dry the hair. Therefore, after exercising, if you sweat profusely, just repeat steps 5-10 on the suggested swimming regimen. In other words, co-wash using a spray bottle. This gets the sweat out without drying the hair or wasting too much conditioner. Do not forget to stretch the hair by styling with braiding, banding or twisting afterward. If you have heat-derived straight hair, I would only recommend wrapping the hair to preserve the style, which is what I used to to for dance practice. However, wrapping does not do much for the sweat that causes breakage.

Ok. That is all for today. Have to get back to planning my life. If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at Okay o. Ẹ se! O dabọ. (That’s thank you and good bye in Yoruba).


Entry Filed under: Health and Fitness,Swimming

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