Summer time is all about shorts, ice creams, glowing skin, and swimming. I love to swim in summers. I go to the pool every day during the evening. Not only is it a great full-body exercise but also helps to rejuvenate your mind. However, swimming in public pools can take a toll on hair and skin and some times even give you green hair or flaky, itchy skin. Considering the poor maintenance of most of the public pools, the dust, and sometimes even poor personal hygiene of the people, one needs to be extra careful about their skin and hair.
Damage Caused to Skin and Prevention:
Some pools don’t even check the pH levels of the water even once during the day, an activity which has to be carried out every two hours to help prevent the damage to skin and hair. Chlorine may kill infection-causing bacteria and germs, but it only damages the upper layer of oil (sebum) that your body produces to prevent your scalp and skin from drying out. The chlorine often makes the skin flaky and itchy, and if you have sensitive skin like me, it will even give you rashes. You have to always remember to quench the thirst of your body for moisturization caused due to drying effects of chlorinated water. The chlorine even sometimes aggravates skin problems like eczema.
1.) If you can, apply some oil (olive or coconut) or baby oil before going to the pool, this will pose as a barrier between the chlorine water and your skin. Apply waterproof sunscreen afterwards to prevent tanning.
2.) Drink water before going to the pool, this will reduce the amount of chlorine water your skin will absorb. More nourished your body is from inside, the less water it will absorb. Staying hydrated will also help your body flush out contaminants brought in by pool chemicals.
3.) Use cold water when showering. Hot water opens your pores and allows the chlorine on your skin to seep into the pores. Also, the steam vapours mix with the chlorine on your skin to create chloroform which you then breathe in.
4.) Shower both before and after swimming. Remember to keep the before swim bath long (5-10 minutes) , as more clean water the skin will absorb, the less of chlorine water it will absorb. Let the after swim shower be real quick and always use a moisturizing soap.
5.) Though most of us prefer using lotions in summers, I would suggest using a cream after a swim and if possible using shea butter, cocoa butter or argan oil based creams for parts like the hands, elbows and feet, which tend to dry out more.
6.) After the shower, do not rub the skin with a towel as friction may remove your skin’s moisture barrier and rubbing may also irritate your skin. Instead try gently patting yourself down with a T-shirt. Gentle patting with a towel will also do the trick.
7.) Protect your skin if you spend a lot of time in the pool, remember to use one that is waterproof and reapply it as frequently directed. Make sure the sunscreen has had the time to absorb into your skin before you jump into the water.
8.) Try to use as many natural and organic products as possible and completely skip the products with unnecessary preservatives and fragrances, as they may contribute to skin damage. Try to use products which help in balancing out the pH of your skin and hair.
9.) Exfoliate your skin twice a week with a mixture of olive oil and sugar if you swim regularly. Remember to regularly use a face mask. You can make an affordable, cooling and nourishing face mask using honey, yogurt and oatmeal, remember to keep it on for twenty minutes and gently scrub it off.
10.) Add vitamin E and A tablets to your moisturiser.
11.) Ensure that you include omega-3 rich foods like almonds, eggs, fish (salmon, tuna, clamps and shrimp are the richest) etc in your diet. This will nourish your skin from the inside.
12.) Drink glasses of Thandai, Kokum, and Jal-Jeera, nimbupaani, or coconut water after a swim to hydrate your body.
13.) Before retiring to bed, exfoliate your feet and hands with a gentle scrub, apply olive oil or a heavy moisturiser, put on some gloves and socks, and wake – up to baby soft skin. This is really important as your feet and hands tend to get the driest while swimming (at least that’s the case with me!).
Damage Caused to Hair:
The most common problems that regular swimmers have to deal with are dry and brittle hair, an itchy scalp and discolouration of hair. To add to the misery, most of the shampoos used by us contain chemicals which lead to further damage to the hair and make it even more dry and brittle.
1.) Shampoo your hair immediately after a swim, this will be an effective way to prevent chlorine build-up. Use a protein-based shampoo or a one designed specifically for regular swimmers. Do not in any case, forget to use a conditioner.
2.) I recommend oiling your hair with oil to form a barrier between chlorine water and your hair. I prefer using this oil my mom got from an ayurvedic centre; it is made from sesame and castor oil and even contains amla extract which prevents discolouration of hair. Using hair oil is a must for people with curly hair.
3.) Chlorine is an oxidant that chemically reacts with your hair and skin, and can be difficult to wash away with conventional shower methods. Dissolve one teaspoon of vitamin C crystals in one-pint spray bottle of water, spray all over your hair, rub it in with your hands and bath as usual. You can even mix it in a normal-sized bottle of a shampoo of your preference. Shake well before use to ensure it is evenly dissolved. Another method would be to use baking soda and mixing it with water to make a thick paste. Rub this paste all over your hair and rinse thoroughly. Shampoo as usual.
4.) I love to indulge in hair masks when I get a day off from swimming and so should you. My two absolute favourites are curd and mustard oil mask, and egg, curd and olive oil mask. These masks being rich in protein, bring life back to the mane, cure the damage caused by chlorine water and make it grow long and strong.
5.) At all times, wear a swim cap. This is the best physical barrier between your hair and the chlorine-rich water.
6.) I sometimes even melt cocoa butter and massage it well into my hair (primarily because my father hates the smell of the gooseberry oil). It helps keep the ends of the hair really soft and split-end free.
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