At this point, it’s no secret that frequent exposure to chlorine or saltwater will cause your hair to dry out and become brittle. And yet, few things are more enticing than taking a dip in the pool or ocean during the summer, but that will expose your hair to the negative effects of chlorine and salt. So what are your options?
Not going to the pool isn’t an option because swimming is too beneficial of an activity, be it socially, mentally, and physically, to give up. So the only option that remains is to somehow keep your hair dry in the water. There are swimming gear you can wear over your head to limit how much water your hair is exposed to, but they aren’t perfect.
You can wear a silicone swim cap with a waterproof headband to keep your hair as dry as possible while swimming. You can reinforce the swim cap’s seal on your head with Vaseline or another sealant. Alternatively, you can just learn how to swim while keeping your head above water the whole time. This is challenging but great for exercise and it doesn’t require you to wear a swim cap.
That said, you need to consider if you’re asking the right question. Why do you want to keep your hair dry? Is it to prevent chlorine and salt damage? If so, then you can do so by saturating your hair with freshwater or coating it with protective hair oil before swimming. This can get to the heart of the problem without this arbitrary rule of keeping your hair dry limiting you.
Keep reading on to learn the various ways you can protect your hair while swimming, whether it’s by keeping it dry with swim gear or applying products into your hair.
Are swim caps supposed to keep hair dry?
Most people incorrectly assume that the purpose of the swim cap is to keep a swimmer’s hair dry. If you think about it for more than two seconds, you’ll wonder why swimmers at the highest levels of competition would care about keeping their hair dry at a swim meet or event?
No, the swim cap’s true purpose is to streamline a swimmer’s head shape so that they are more hydrodynamic in the water. That’s a fancy way to say it helps them swim faster. To be fair, the swim cap does limit how much water reaches the hair, but it will not keep it completely dry.
Also, the swim cap material matters. Out of the three most popular swim cap materials – lycra, latex, and silicone, only silicone is truly waterproof in that it doesn’t allow water to pass through it. However, water can still reach your hair through even the tiniest gaps, such as the space around your ears or any strands of hair that keeps the cap from directly sealing against your skin.
Even with a silicone swim cap, you can quickly start to feel water seeping in through these tiny gaps, and that’s not a flaw of the silicone cap. Remember, it isn’t designed to keep your hair dry. However, this is already enough to keep the upper portion of your hair dry. If you want to keep the rest dry, there are more steps you can take.
Put your hair up
If you have long hair, you’re going to need to tie it up in a high bun to keep the water from reaching it when worn with a swim cap. Putting your hair up also makes it easier to don a swim cap in the first place.
Tying your hair up tightly compacts it which will improve your hydrodynamics when swimming and helps the swim cap sit closer on your head. Hair that is tied up is also more durable, and the decreased surface area keeps the hair drier by protecting the strands of hair that are in the inner layer from being exposed to too much chlorine and salt.
Wear a swim cap over a waterproof headband
A silicone swim cap is not enough to keep all of the water out. Water will seep in from any gaps caused by even the tiniest protrusions, such as strands of hair, that prevent the swim cap from forming a watertight seal.
To address this, you can wear a waterproof headband to supplement the swim cap. The headband should also be made of silicone, and it goes over your ears and forehead to form a tighter seal on your head than a swim cap can.
If you have long sideburns or a beard that connects all the way to your sideburns, you’re going to need to shave the sides off so that the headband can directly seal against your skin. If strands of hair are in the way, it cannot form a watertight seal.
Wear a swim cap over a shower cap
What’s better than one cap? Two caps. An alternative to wearing a waterproof headband underneath is to wear a shower cap underneath. I personally think that the waterproof headband forms a tighter seal, but if you have a shower cap lying around you can give it a shot.
Seal any gaps with sealant
- Helps increase life of rubber products
- Ideal for use with o-ring seals
- Conditions and permeates rubber surface
In case there are any gaps caused by strands of hair or some other protrusion, you can strengthen the swim cap’s/headband’s seal on your face using sealant. You can use Vaseline or silicone grease to accomplish this. Apply the sealant around the opening of the headband/swim cap where it touches your skin and water could seep through.
Wear goggles over the swim cap
Some people prefer to wear their goggles under their swim cap to reduce drag. However, if your goal is to keep your hair dry, you’d better wear your goggles over your swim cap so as not to introduce another gap that water can enter from.
By wearing goggles under the swim cap, the place where the strap sticks out from under the swim cap creates a gap that water can seep in from. Not even sealant is able to seal this gap, so just wear it outside the swim cap.
Can you keep your hair dry without a swim cap?
It’ll be hard, but you can certainly try. I found the best way to accomplish this is to do a modified version of the breaststroke where you keep your head above water at all times.
Now keep in mind, this is still not an ideal situation to be in. Aside from the fact that doing this for too long can cause neck strain, since nothing is shielding your hair, water can easily splash on it or you could simply get tired and sink a little bit and next thing you know your hair’s wet.
To motivate yourself, don’t think of this as a chore. You can try to think of it as a fun game. How much of a strong swimmer are you if you can keep your head up the whole time? If you can actually go an entire swim session while keeping your hair dry, then you deserve a prize.
That said, the optimal way of keeping your hair dry is still with a silicone swim cap. Don’t make life so difficult for yourself; wear a swim cap, or even two caps if you must, and just swim like you normally would.
Last update on 2022-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API