Minimise damage, avoid bad-hair day!

Minimise damage, avoid bad-hair day!


However, excessive contact with chlorinated water and sun leads to skin and hair problems. While swimming in an open pool, exposure to the sun is the downside. Reflective surfaces like water cause more sun damage.

The skin becomes tanned, which is a normal protective response. Sun-exposure can also cause dryness of the skin, while chlorine and other chemicals in the water deplete moisture. Chlorine is also known to cause rashes, while one can pick up other skin conditions like a fungus infection from swimming pools.

Chlorine strips the hair of oils and makes it dry, tangled, matted and rough. Chlorine also affects the cuticles and makes the hair dull. The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair and contributes to its shine. Repeated exposure to chlorine can make the hair brittle, leading to problems like split-ends and hair breakage.

Light-coloured hair can turn greenish after a swim in the pool, although this is not due to chlorine, but minerals like copper and iron in the water. As far as after-care is concerned, coloured hair needs greater care, with hot oil and deep-conditioning treatments. Use mild shampoos with built-in conditioning.

A creamy conditioner or hair serum should be applied before swimming, for a layer of protection. Apply a water-resistant sunscreen lotion on the face and other exposed areas 20 minutes prior to a swim, giving it time to be absorbed. Apply a broad spectrum water-resistant and water-proof sunscreen lotion. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is related to the duration of exposure and the degree of sun-sensitivity.

If the skin is highly sensitive to sunburn or sun damage, a cream or lotion with SPF 30 or 40 may be applied. The fact remains that if you have been in the water for long, you should re-apply your sunscreen, whether it is water-proof or water- resistant, or both.

Mane management

Remember to wet your hair thoroughly under a shower before you jump in the pool. Wet hair will absorb less-chlorinated water. Apply a conditioner or hair serum and wear a cap before swimming. Conditioners and serum coat the hair and protect it from chemicals. Hair must be rinsed thoroughly with water after a swim too. This helps to wash away the chlorine to a great extent.

Apart from sunscreen lotion, apply hair serum to soften the locks.  Dry hair may be washed twice or thrice a week. However, if you swim every day, it may be necessary to wash the hair more often, using very little shampoo. Dilute the shampoo with a little water before application.

Mild herbal shampoos, containing ingredients like amla, bael and brahmi, are suitable for dry hair. After shampoo, use a creamy conditioner, massaging it lightly into the scalp. Leave it on for two minutes and then rinse with plain water. This helps to soften the hair and make it smooth and manageable.

Top tip: Apply conditioner on the tip of the hair strands too.  Oil hair twice a week to reduce breakage and split ends.

BEAUTY CORNER Every fortnight, Living features a column on beauty and style by our grooming expert Shahnaz Hussain. Readers can send in their feedback to