Frequently swimming, whether in the ocean or in a swimming pool, will cause your hair to dry out and become stiff and brittle like straw. Aside from the damage it can cause to your hair health, chlorinated water can have a chemical reaction with the chemicals found in hair dye, causing it to become a different color than expected; a common result is blond hair turning green.
To address this, you can wear a swim cap. While swim caps don’t fully keep your hair dry, it at least limits the amount of chlorine and salt your hair will be exposed to. However, this isn’t good enough for some people. Furthermore, some people don’t like how swim caps can tug painfully on their hair and how hot it can get wearing a swim cap. All valid reasons.
So is there a good way to keep your hair dry without a swim cap? Unfortunately, there isn’t really a good option. If you don’t want to wear a swim cap, then the next best thing is a shower cap but that doesn’t keep your hair fully dry either. You’re left with just swimming while keeping your head up and praying that nobody splashes you.
Unfortunately, your best bet is still to just wear a swim cap if your goal is keeping your hair as dry as possible. There are some extra things you can do to make a swim cap’s seal even better, such as applying Vaseline around the seal or wearing a waterproof headband underneath as an extra layer of protection.
Another thing you should consider is if you’re even asking the right question. Why must you keep your hair dry? Perhaps there is a more comfortable swim cap material you could wear, or a more comfortable way of wearing a swim cap that you weren’t aware of. If you keep reading on, we will address your pain points in different ways to offer you a better solution than just “swim with your head up.”
The non-swim cap options aren’t good
As mentioned, there are not many good options to keep your hair dry without a swim cap. A shower cap is just completely ineffective if you plan on submerging your head underwater; it only works if there is a trickle of water coming from above you. There are no other products that currently exist that keep your hair dry better than a swim cap.
The only other option that remains is if you have the stamina and focus to keep your head (and hair) above the water the whole time. You can do this by doing a modified version of a breaststroke where your head never goes underwater.
There are a few really obvious problems with this solution. The first is that if you lose focus or get tired for even one second, you can sink a bit deeper and get your hair partially soaked. The other problem is that you have no protection if somebody else splashes you. At least even a shower cap could help you out there.
Do you really need to keep your hair dry?
If you have dyed blond hair or you have long hair and find it to be a hassle to wash the chlorine or salt out of your hair so often, then I understand why this is such an important objective to you.
For basically everyone else, what I am alluding to is that you should first saturate your hair with freshwater before you enter the pool or ocean. At a swimming pool, this is what’s expected of you anyways.
The benefit of this is that once your hair is saturated with freshwater, it will absorb far less chlorine or salt than if you had gone in dry. The outcome is that your hair is largely protected from the drying effect of chlorine and salt, and you can more easily wash it out of your hair when rinsing after swimming.
You can also apply a moisturizing conditioner or hair mask on your hair under the cap. This extra layer of protection may potentially keep chlorine from entering your hair or even discoloring it if you happen to have dyed hair.
If you want to protect your hair from the harmful effects of salt and chlorine, you need to be willing to wet it with freshwater and to apply some hair products. This will leave your hair feeling nice and luscious afterwards, rather than dry and brittle like it usually is after swimming.
Are swim caps an absolute deal breaker for you?
Are you adamantly opposed to wearing a swim cap? Are you sure we can’t change your mind about it? Perhaps there is a way to make it more comfortable to wear so that it can keep chlorine from reaching your hair. Please consider what a swim cap could do for you.
First, if you tie your hair up in a bun and wear a swim cap over it, the majority of your hair will be protected from chlorine. At most, water may seep up the sides of your hair if you leave any gaps open, but there are ways to keep that from happening too.
For instance, you can wear a waterproof headband first. This covers up your ears and strands of hair that stick up and prevent a swim cap from sealing on your face. Afterwards, the swim cap can get a better seal on your face and keep water from entering inside. You can even reinforce the seal by applying Vaseline or silicone grease on it.
If your issue with swim caps is that it tugs painfully on your hair and you suspect it is causing your hair to fall out faster, that is a misconception. The swim cap is just keeping the hair that you naturally shed all in one place, so that when you remove the cap and see all that hair you shed it looks like your hair is falling out in clumps.
With regards to any tugging, you may need to adjust your swim cap positioning, or the swim cap might not be a good fit for your head. Swimmers with long hair specifically need to wear a swim cap designed for long hair. Furthermore, you need to wear a silicone swim cap because the material doesn’t let water pass through it.
Get good at swimming with your head up
Not satisfied with the answers? I’m sorry, neither am I for your specific query, but as far as I can tell there are no optimal solutions. If you cannot get your hair wet at all even if it’s with freshwater, and you do not want to wear a swim cap whatsoever, then the only thing that remains is to go capless and to swim with your head above water the whole time.
Swimming in such a restrictive way is tiring, can strain your neck and upper back muscles, and is ultimately a pain in the butt. This does not offer you any protection if someone else were to splash you. Your muscles can also get tired and cause you to sink, resulting in your hair getting wet anyways.
As tiring and inefficient as it is, it’s possible to swim while keeping your hair dry. The best way is to tie your hair up in a bun and do a modified breaststroke where you keep your head up the whole time. But is this any way to swim? You cannot put your best effort into it and you will feel tired and strained in no time. Not an ideal way to swim.
Another alternative is to swim while using a kickboard. The extra buoyancy provided by a kickboard makes it much easier for you to stay afloat and you can keep your hair above water for longer without tiring. However, you are still susceptible to water splashing on your hair.
Unfortunately, it is impractical to go swimming while keeping your hair dry without a swim cap. You should find a way to make peace with the fact that you have to wet your hair and wear a swim cap, or else get really good at swimming with your head up. Lounging around the hot tub is still an option, however, so it’s not all bad.