Growing up as a black child in the 70’s and 80’s was quite different than now. For one thing….hardly anyone black that I knew was getting in pools or in the water at the beach. I didn’t know anyone who could swim and beaches primarily had whites at them….whether they were sunbathing or swimming. If I was lucky enough to get to a pool that meant enduring a hideously tight ass swim cap molded to my head and my mother would cut her eyes at me and my sister before telling us through clenched teeth…..
“YOU BETTA NOT GET YOUR HAIR WET!!”
Of course our hair got wet and we were subject to hours of my mother washing and pressing our hair to get it back right. I am being soooo serious and if any older Naturals are reading this try not to spit your coffee out laughing because I KNOW you remember this as well!!
I shared that painful memory with you to make you aware of the sheer joy I have at being Natural and not worrying about getting my hair wet. It’s freeing. No other way to put it. Downright F R E E I N G….. I learned how to swim as an adult and I never miss the opportunity to get into a pool or run into the ocean. I miss living close to water so I’m always ready to get to an island when we can afford it. Being Natural has made me love the water as well as the rain and I don’t take this luxury for granted at all.
Despite all this freeness I feel, being Natural doesn’t allow me to not take proper precautions with chlorine. I may no longer be afraid to jump right in but I’ve got to be smart about it if I don’t want all that summer frolicking to damage me hair.
Chlorine is used to kill the germs that can breed in swimming pool water and cause illnesses. It’s a necessity but being necessary in one way can still be dangerous in another.
“The cortex, or inner layer, of hair is protected by the cuticle, or outer later. Sebum is a natural lubricant that protects the cuticle. The chlorine in pools sucks the sebum out of your hair, which may cause the cuticle to crack. This damage causes your hair’s natural sheen to diminish, and the unprotected cortex to potentially “split,” creating split ends.” www.goaskalice.columbia.edu
There appears to be several ways to protect the hair before swimming in chlorine as well as taking care of it after swimming. It really boils down to who you ask and trust but there are some basic steps that most experts will agree on:
- Wet the hair with tap water prior to swimming. This will keep the hair from soaking up the chlorinated water.
- Coat the hair with conditioner before you go swimming. I’ve heard some people apply Coconut oil prior to swimming and I assume it has the same intention as adding conditioner. Something to help block the chlorinated water from penetrating the hair.
- Wear a swim cap or bathing cap. This is also another barrier but the hair will get wet. That’s not the purpose of the cap. It’s just another barrier. No, Sabrina will never wear a swim cap again…Too many bad memories!
- Rinse hair thoroughly after swimming and shampoo.
Being smart and taking the necessary precautions before swimming this summer will allow that gorgeous Natural hair to stay healthy. It may take a little extra time but not seeing a mass of straw on your head instead of hair or not seeing your hair down the shower drain will make those extra steps worthwhile.
Take care Naturals,