How to Wear a Swim Cap: Tips for Long and Short Hair

how to put on a swim cap with long short hair

If you think that putting on a swim cap is like putting on a hat, you’d be mistaken. There is a right way to put on a swim cap, but there are many wrong ways to do so as well. The people who struggle the most to put on a swim cap are people with very long hair.

To put on a swim cap, you need to find one that fits you tight and doesn’t pull on your hair. You can minimize discomfort by tying your hair in a bun, wetting both your hair and the cap, and pulling the cap over your head in one swift motion. Make sure to stretch out the cap so that it will easily go over your head.

Common mistakes that people make include not wetting the cap or their hair, not stretching the cap enough, wearing an ill-fitting cap, not tying their hair up, and not getting a cap with the right material for their goals.

In this article, we will provide some easy tips and tricks to help everyone put on a swim cap, whether you have long hair or short hair.

How to put on a swim cap

Wet your hair and swim cap

Swim caps are designed to be worn over wet hair. Dry hair will experience significantly more friction and will give you that feeling that your hair is getting pulled out.

If you are following the rules of the pool, you should be showering before you enter the pool anyways. People with very voluminous hair should spend more time ensuring that every strand of hair is nice and moisturized.

As an aside, moisturizing your hair is a great way to protect it from chlorine or saltwater if you are swimming outdoors. When your hair is saturated with freshwater, it will not absorb as much of the pool or ocean water. Doing this also helps you put on a swim cap more easily, so it’s a win-win.

While your hair is damp, comb your hair to remove any knots and tangles. This reduces the chances of your hair getting painfully pulled on.

If your hair is sufficiently wet, you don’t necessarily have to dampen your swim cap, but it doesn’t hurt to do so either just in case. You can also coat the cap with a thin layer of conditioner which can act as a lubricant for your head to slide in.

Tie your hair up

Tie your hair either into a ponytail or a bun if your hair is really long. Make sure that your hair is nice and secure, because there’s a chance it will shift around and become undone as you wear the cap.

To tie your hair into a bun, first grab your hair into a ponytail, and hold the tip with only your thumb and forefinger. Using your forefinger, thumb, and middle finger, do a few twirls of your ponytail until a coil forms.

Spin the coiled hair clockwise (or counterclockwise if you’d like) around the base of the ponytail to form a bun. To hold the bun in place, get an elastic hair band and wrap it around the base of the ponytail.

Something to keep in mind is that if you’re used to your ponytail or bun being in a specific position, it’s probably going to get pulled down when the cap is on. To address this, you should tie your hair up slightly higher than normal so it will get pulled down to the usual position.

Stretch the swim cap

Some people treat their swim cap too gently and don’t stretch it wide enough to fit over their head. The swim cap material should be very stretchy and durable, so you should not have to worry about it tearing.

Hold the sides of the swim cap with your thumbs inside. Partially turn it inside out, and don’t be afraid to really stretch it so that it can easily fit over your head.

Another way is to press the palm of your hands together, stick your hands inside the swim cap, and release your hands. Now you can put the swim cap on as if you’re putting on a helmet.

The most common reason why swim caps can tear are due to people with sharp fingernails accidentally cutting the material, causing small rips or holes to appear. Yes, pulling too hard will also cause problems, but that’s why you need to tug gently to start, and stretch more if the cap isn’t fitting over your head.

Pull it over your head in one swift motion

swim cap keeps slipping off


Place the front of the swim cap at your forehead and just above your eyebrows. Allow the swim cap to snag on your forehead, and pull the rest of the swim cap down and back toward your head so it covers your hair bun and the rest of your head.

To help facilitate this motion, you can even tilt your head down as you pull the swim cap over your head.

Adjust the swim cap

You may have some hair on your neck or sideburns that aren’t covered up. Don’t worry about it; the point is not to cover every strand of hair, just the majority of them so that you have a streamlined head shape. Tuck in the occasional strands of hair that are sticking out and don’t worry about the rest.

Wearing a swim cap is not an exact science. You have some leeway to adjust the positioning of the cap if it’s causing you discomfort. For instance, the swim cap should not be covering your eyebrows, and it’s up to you whether you want to leave your ears covered, uncovered, or partially covered.

Ask a friend for help

It can be difficult to put on a swim cap on your own if you have a lot of hair. With a friend’s assistance, they can help hold the cap wide enough and have a better vantage point to place the cap over your head and not catch on any hair.

Your job, then, is to hold the front of the cap when it’s on your forehead so that your friend can focus entirely on stretching the cap and pulling it back and down.

Try a different cap

If you’ve been having trouble putting on a silicone cap, you can try a latex cap or even a Lycra cap.

Another issue might be the size of the cap. Many beginners make the mistake of wearing a tight cap because they erroneously think that a swim cap ought to keep their hair dry (it doesn’t), and that it must be tight to do so.

Yes, it’s true the cap should be somewhat tight. However, if you feel like the cap is giving your eyebrows a lift, it might be leaning more towards being too tight (too small for your head). Either try a different size swim cap or a cap made with a different material.