You came out of the water and you tried washing your hair.
But it’s all sticky.
It’s even a little tricky and you’re stuck under the shower for a while trying to get it out.
Why is your hair sticky after swimming?
Your hair is sticky after swimming only because of the chemicals in the water. If there is too much chlorine or salt in the water, hair will get sticky. Chlorine can strip the natural oils from your hair leaving it dry and sticky. Saltwater (if you were in the ocean) can dehydrate your hair making it sticky too. If you had any hair products in your hair (like gels, mousses, or hairspray) or even put on sunscreen, these can react with the chemicals in the water causing stickiness.
Of course, there are more reasons like bacteria, sweat, and pH levels of the water, I’ll talk about those in a bit.
I’ll also help you fix sticky pool hair.
If you want to protect your hair while swimming in a pool without a swim cap, read this post.
Let’s dive in.
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1. Chlorine is reacting with your hair
Chlorine is a very common pool disinfectant.
It’s usually added to keep the water clean and free from harmful bacteria.
However, when chlorine reacts with your hair, it can cause some issues.
Chlorine strips away the natural oils from your hair leaving it dry and brittle – this will make your hair more susceptible to damage from brushing or styling.
Additionally, when chlorine interacts with hair, it can create a chemical reaction that will cause your hair to become sticky. What’s actually happening is the chlorine is mixing with your hair’s natural oils (sebum) and coats the strands making them feel tacky or gummy to the touch.
You can use Malibu C shampoo – this is specifically formulated for swimmers so and it even removes and avoids green hair (if you’ve dyed your hair).
This will happen more frequently for people with long hair.
How to fix this?
Rinse your hair with clean water before and after swimming – this will minimize the amount of chlorine your hair absorbs.
And use a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove excess buildup so that your hair’s natural oils will be restored.
2. The pool was too alkaline (pH was too high)
A lot of pools are quite alkaline and this can make your hair feel sticky.
If you stepped into a very cloudy-looking pool (this is an indication that it’s alkaline), then chances are that the pH level is here than 7.0.
This happens when the amount of base chemicals added to the water is too high.
So, when this happens, it makes the water more basic which will cause the hair cuticles (outermost layer of hair) to open up. This will make it easier for your hair to absorb the water. And when hair is over-saturated with water, it can become sticky and difficult to manage.
Additionally, if the pH level of the pool is very high, it can cause the chlorine to become less effective, leading to an increase in bacteria and other microorganisms in the pool which will cling to your hair and scalp causing more stickiness.
How to fix it?
A brilliant home remedy is to rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar or just plain vinegar – this will help remove the stickiness in your hair.
If you don’t have those, just use a regular clarifying shampoo and conditioner after swimming to help remove any buildup and restore the natural pH balance of your hair.
I highly recommend using Aqua Guard Leave in before swimming. Just dampen your hair before swimming and leave this pre-swim liquid in your hair. Pay more attention to the ends as this is more prone to stickiness and frizziness.
3. Sunscreen is reacting with the chemicals in the water
Now, I know – It’s very important to apply sunscreen before stepping out into the sun. But sunscreen contains ingredients that can leave a residue on your hair especially if you apply it directly to your scalp or hairline.
This residue will mix with the salt or chlorine in the water, creating a gummy texture that can be difficult to wash out.
Moreover, if you have oily hair, sunscreen will mix with the natural oils in the hair (sebum) and create a sticky film that will make your hair weighed down and greasy.
How to fix it?
Instead of applying sunscreen to your scalp or hairline, wear a swim cap and then apply the sunscreen to your face and body only.
If you get some in your hair, rinse it out with fresh water after swimming.
Use a clarifying shampoo and conditioner to remove any buildup.
4. There is a buildup of sunscreen in the pool
When you enter the pool with sunscreen, these salts mix with chlorine to form a yellow or beige sticky substance that can either stick to the chlorinator or sink to the bottom of the pool.
This can make the water unclean. So, if you make sure that you clean the pool regularly if you own it, or go to one that’s being cleaned regularly.
Go to pools that enforce a showering rule so that swimmers don’t bring lotions with them in the water.
5. Water may be too hard
If you swam in the ocean or some really salty water, chances are the water is hard.
Hard water has high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium – these can build up on the surface of your hair and create a film that will make your hair feel sticky and greasy.
Hard water will also prevent your shampoo from lathering well, and this will make it difficult to rinse out completely. It can add to more buildup on the salp making it more sticky and weighed down.
How to fix it?
Use a clarifying shampoo – this will remove all the excess buildup and restore the natural pH balance in your hair.
Your hair is going to be very rough if you’ve swum in hard water so please use a leave-in conditioner afterward. You can also use mild hair oil to help restore moisture to your hair.
Why is my kid’s hair sticky after swimming?
Your kid’s hair is sticky after swimming only because of the chemicals in the water. If there is too much chlorine or salt in the water, Chlorine can strip the natural oils from your child’s hair leaving it sticky. Saltwater (if they swam in the ocean) can dehydrate their hair making it sticky too. If your child had on any hair products or even put on sunscreen, these can react with the chemicals in the water causing stickiness.
How to fix sticky pool hair?
- Use the AquaGuard Pre-Swim leave in your hair (make sure it’s damp before applying) to ensure that chlorine or salts don’t react with your hair. This is a holy-grail product specifically designed for swimmers’ hair.
- Tie your hair if it’s long and put it in a large swim cap – this will make sure that very less surface area actually reacts with the chlorine.
- Use shampoo after swimming. Triswim Chlorine removal shampoo will remove all the chlorine from your hair while moisturizing it. It’s specifically made for swimmers and you get a nice, clean feeling after using it. You can swim 4-5 times a week and use it after every wash. It will make sure that your hair is soft and healthy.
I hope this helps!
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