Ask Dr. Ena: Hair Protection at the Beach and Pool- Swimming

Ask Dr. Ena: Hair Protection at the Beach and Pool- Swimming




OK, so we’ve established that the ☀️ sun can damage multi-textured and curly hair

But what’s the summer sun without going into the water? Well, water poses challenges, too – especially chlorinated water at the pool. 

But does that mean that you and your kids shouldn’t go to the pool or beach? Of course not!

You just need to strategize a bit. 


Watch for chlorine and salt!

OK, so this might seem really confusing. Water is supposed to be good for hair like ours, right?

Well, it is! Water is THE moisturizer for our hair. 💦

But it quickly enters and exits the hair shaft and needs to be sealed in with humectants to hold it there moisturize your hair.

Chlorine is the prolific chemical additive used in most pool water to reduce bacteria and virus proliferation to keep you from getting sick when swimming! However, it packs so powerful a punch that it can break down your hair’s outer protective layer. These are the scaly cells on the outside of the cuticle, called the epicuticle. 

With the epicuticle stripped away, this means that the hair will not be able to hold water in the shaft. Chlorine also strips away oils and fatty acids, causing extreme dryness and fragile hair prone to breakage and damage. 

If you are at the beach, the salt in seawater can cause excessive dryness by drawing water out of your hair – again, leading to easily damaged fragile hair.

A swim cap is never a bad idea. Good luck, I say, getting your kids to wear one. Mine flatly refuse. 

True confession: I don’t like wearing them either. Plus, they’re not exactly airtight. And unless you aspire to stand on an Olympic podium someday, they aren’t exactly in the running for beach chic. 

Caps help, but don’t completely prevent exposure to the damaging effects of the pool, the lake and the ocean. And they tend to be TIGHT, and potentially pull on your edges and cause excessive mechanical friction on your hair.

Enjoy your time at the beach

Keep on swimming: Hair protection at the beach

So here’s my recommendation for beach-going days: Thoroughly saturate your hair with freshwater, pre-salt and pool water exposure. You are taking control of the moisturizing process through this method. 

Hair that is already saturated with freshwater won’t soak up as much chlorinated or salt water. 🏊🏽‍♀️

Then add a rich conditioner to your wet hair, our Many Ethnicities leave-in conditioning cream (kids leave in for the little ones), and a little protective oil – such as coconut or olive oil – to create another protective barrier. Coconut and olive oils each have the added benefit of some sun protection as well. 

Leave in conditioner by Many Ethnicities


After your swim, wash your hair as soon as possible to grab that chlorine and salt and get it out of your or your child’s hair ASAP.  

Rinse as thoroughly as possible with freshwater, and then re-apply conditioner to the hair. That will hold you until you can get to your shower or tub to shampoo. 

Make sure you remember what you’ve just put your hair through, and give it a little extra love with some conditioning and moisturizing after the shampoo. 

Can you go to the beach or pool and have great hair, too? Absolutely! It just takes a little planning and perhaps a bit more execution. But you’re worth it, and so is your hair. 

Have fun, and enjoy your summer with great looking hair! 


Dr. Ena


Dr. Ena Many Ethnicities

* Dr. Ena Hennegan is the founder and CEO of Many Ethnicities, LLC, the industry’s newest personal care brand. Many Ethnicities was created specifically to address the unique challenges of multi-ethnic hair. Dr. Ena’s brand launches and will be available to the public in the spring of 2017. 

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