I Solved Our Chlorinated Hair Crisis. Now You Can, Too.

The beginning signs of a chlorinated hair catastrophe. © The Invisible Trendsetter
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Summer is for swimming.

I may be a hippie, but I love a pool. There are some things I’m just willing to deal with. A beautiful pool with crystal-clear water on a hot day? Yeah, I’m literally in. I’d be an utter grump if I couldn’t go for a swim in those conditions.

Last summer, we installed a decent-sized above-ground pool. Nothing fancy, but it’s already paid for itself with the time we’ve spent swimming. If only all the joy translated to actual dollar bills, we’d be millionaires!

The benefit of all this time spent in the pool is loads of Vitamin D and my children learning the lifesaving skill of swimming. Just this year, my oldest (6), started swimming underwater. And, wow! Just like that, we had a chlorinated hair crisis on our hands.

Blonde Hair + Chlorine = Summer Bummer

I never really understood the problems blondies faced in the water until I was blessed with a blondie of my own. Somehow, my very southern European husband (dark hair, dark eyes) and I (dark hair, light eyes) produced two blondies – one dirty and one strawberry. Genetics is a strange beast. (For the record, our third child looks just like her dad and shares features with her sisters, so no paternity test is necessary.)

My oldest kiddo – Blondie #1 – has the worst hair combination I have ever experienced. It is both fine and thick. How is that even possible?! She has my very tiny strands of hair, and she has her dad’s hairy gene which means there is a lot of said fine hair. It’s also prone to matting. Delightful. It’s like taking millions of very thin, fragile necklaces, dropping them into a box and handing said box to a toddler. To make matters worse, she’s very sensitive to pain, which makes brushing a nightmare. Add in chlorine and bam! Instant disaster. Her hair was dry, crispy, and matted within a couple of swims and I was completely at a loss for what to do.

It was clear a wash and condition wasn’t going to work.

(Mostly) restored hair. © The Invisible Trendsetter

Ultimately, I knew this was going to require more intensive work than a simple wash and condition. Protein spray probably wasn’t going to cut it, either. I am certainly no beauty-expert, so I’m not sure what in the world made me think I should look for a hair mask – but that’s where my journey began.

The first place I check in these situations is always the EWG. They’re an independent body that give ratings for how safe any particular product is. I was initially hopeful until I popped over to Amazon and realized that anything with high rankings from EWG was either A) not available on Amazon (read: fast shipping) or B) not for her hair type. Sigh.

Next up? Coming up with something myself. Luckily, I have plenty of time whilst breastfeeding to research all the things, so I was able to create a pretty stellar routine that banished the brittleness and restored a healthy shine to my kiddo’s head. And because sharing is caring, I’m now passing on my research and knowledge to you.

So without further ado, here’s how we handled our chlorinated hair conundrum:

1. Clarifying Shampoo

The first thing you need to do in a chlorinated hair crisis is wash the bejeebus out of the hair with a clarifying shampoo. This was recommended to me by our family hair stylist. Wash it like you mean it. I like to lather it until it feels really foamy – working it in the roots and focusing on the ends. We use (and love) the AttitudeLiving clarifying shampoo. It’s EWG-verified and the smell doesn’t trigger the asthma or migraine sufferers of the house.

2. Rinse

Obviously, you need to rinse all the shampoo out. I like to use a shower wand for this step because my kids are less likely to wiggle when I use the wand, and if they do, I can rinse while they’re running. Bodily autonomy has its place. That place is not running around the house with soapy hair (read: dripping in eyes). Sorry not sorry.

4. Hair Masque (or mask?)

Next up, I found a DIY hair masque article on the interwebs. Ultimately, the hair masque we decided to use was 1/2 avocado + 2 TBSP honey + 2 TBSP olive oil + 3 drops of essential oil. (For reference, we used 2 drops of lavender and 1 drop of frankincense). Apply the hair masque as best you can. We just worked it in and didn’t comb or brush it. Hills and battles and all that.

5. Leave overnight

Hair wrapped for the evening. © The Invisible Trendsetter

Place that hair in a really high bun and wrap it in saran wrap for overnight. I recommend placing a towel on the pillow for any remnant product that might seep out of the saran wrap. Wet pillows are a bummer and there’s really no sense in making more work for yourself by having to figure out a DIY solution to remove olive oil from fabric. I can’t help you there.

6. Wash

In the morning, wash the hair with a gentle shampoo. We like AttitudeLiving Extra Gentle & Volumizing during this step. The goal is to remove the excess olive oil and avocado – not all of it.

7. Pat dry and squeeze

When drying the hair after the shower, it’s important to PAT AND SQUEEZE DRY, as opposed to rubbing. This step isn’t as important as the others, so don’t fret about it if you forget.

8. Apply Argan Oil

Next, apply argan oil to the bottom half of the hair. We used about two-three pumps and it was the appropriate amount for our particular hair situation. Use your best judgement.

8. Comb

Use a comb or wet/dry brush to evenly distribute the argan oil throughout the hair. Allow to air dry.

9. Maintain

Each evening after a swim, wash the hair with a gentle shampoo and condition. We’re about three weeks out from the initial treatment and are just beginning to need the argan oil again.

That’s all, folks

Hopefully from this post you realize two things – 1) chlorinated hair doesn’t have to become a crisis and 2) it’s really easy to restore with just a few kitchen staples (maybe minus the avocado). With this solution, you don’t need to purchase any specialty hair care products to be used only during the summer. And, luckily, it doesn’t smell terrible and works really quickly. I’m certainly thankful I was able to nail it on the first try (patience is hard to come by around here). It helped my blonde little mermaid, and I hope it helps yours, too!

Happy swimming!

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