35 answers

Swimmers hair---Help! Kid's Hair Is a Mess

My daughters have been taking swimming leassons and it is wrecking their hair. I have tried a kids swim shampoo with no luck. Last week I tried a fancy leave in conditioner from Lifetime fitness salon that caused both girls to break out in little pimples. It is so tangled and dry when the older one gets out of the water that I literally cannot even get my fingers though to rinse it. Does anyone have a specific suggestion of a product to use or anything I can do to help. (BTW--swim caps are out of the question--I look like a goofball Mommy).

2 moms found this helpful

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I so appreciate the help! We now wet the girls hair, spread on VO5 and french braid it (as best I can). 2 quick shampoos with Ultaswim shampoo and a few good squirts of Infusium 23 and it is tangle free. Another mom even commented on how nice it was combing out. I think I may water the Infusium down a bit because it almost makes their hair greasy...but I prefer that to tears!!! THANKS!!!

Featured Answers

there is a shampoo that is specifically for swimmers. I did find this on the internet: Swimmers Hair Conditioner
by California Baby. I know that when I was young I was always in the pool and the chlorine just demolished it. You can also do a search in google under swimmers hair shampoo, there is a lot of information there that might help you as well!

With my girls, one of which has very fine hair that tangles easily, I always put in plenty of regular conditioner and then put their hair into ponies and braids. That keeps it from tangling. And then when we get home I wash and condition it again. Then follow-up with lots of leave in conditioner like the Suave or VO5 version you can get at Walmart.

Hope that helps.

Try a deep conditioning treatment several times a week. you can get some deep penetrating conditioner from Sally's Beauty Supply.

More Answers

Hi A.,
I know Arbonne has several products that can help. If you're not familiar with Arbonne, it is a home-based business that retails face, body, and hair care products (as well as other personal care products) that are botanically based and contain no mineral oil or chemical dyes or fragrances. The products are vegan certified and are formulated in Switzerland to meet the higher European standards for personal care products.

I am an Arbonne consultant and have used, with success, the following products for "swimmers hair":
ABC Hair and Body Wash or
Intelligence Daily Self-Adjusting Shampoo
Intelligence Daily Self-Adjusting Conditioner
To the Rescue Hair Protectant

The Hair Protectant is great both before and after swimming. Before hitting the pool, it helps protect the hair from damage due to sun and chlorine so that it is easier to comb out later. It also acts as a detangler, making it easier to comb through anytime the hair is wet.

I'm happy to offer more assistance, if you'd like. Or you can go to www.Arbonne.com to find a consultant near you who can help.

Hi A.,

I have two suggestions actually. first, start with a new hair cut. If the ends are dried out and damaged, they will tangle so much easier. If they are taking regular lessons, chances are very high the ends could use a good trim...

secondly, I've always used chlorimed by John Amico. follow up with a good conditioner though becasue this will strip the hair of the pool chemicals (which cause further damage). I like Infusium 23 leave in conditioner. I like to put that in a spray bottle and use it as a detangler/leave-in treatment.

Not sure how long their hair is, but another thing I found helps keep my girls hair from getting really tangled *while* swimming, is to put their hair in a french braid, or just a regular braid seems to help too.

Good luck to you :)

There are some great suggestions for special swimmer shampoo and quality salon products. Being a competitive swimmer for 10 years and 8 years of triathlons, I used cheap thick conditioner such as Finesse after wetting it. Although the others may work, it gets expensive. After the initial rinse of the condiitoner coming out of the water, then I would use the nicer better products to keep the hair healthy. Finesse leaves this waxy coat on your hair if you've ever tried it. Not good for long term use on hair, but FANTASTIC for keeping chlorine at bay! :)

Hi, I'm a Cosmetologiest. What you need to do is put conditioner in their hair before going into the pool. When you get home you need to wash it with Tea Tree Paul Mitchell shampoo. The reason this happend is because the Chloring in the water gets attached to the hair and bond. So you need to be able to make a negative attachment. That is why you add a light conditioning to their hair and comb it so it gets all over their head.

We used to get a lot of kids on Sat at the salon with their mom for the same problem


My daughter and I have been swimming (taking swim courses) since she was six months old. She's five now. I have a swim cap for her. However, I continue to wash her hair with Creme of Nature shampoo. It's excellent. It cleans and moisturizes the hair without stripping it. It's good for everyday use too.

Happy shampooing!!!!

S. M.

My daughter has very dry hair to begin with and we have struggled with this also. First, it is very important to use a shampoo that is specifically made to remove chlorine. Not all shampoos naturally do this. My daughter's current favorite is "ultrswim" shampoo. We found this at Walgreen's. Second, and this came from our hair stylist, is to put on a conditioner to wet hair _before_ swimming. It can be the cheapest conditioner you can find (suave?) and use it as a leave-in. Our stylist explained that the conditioner will bond to the hair cuticle and block the chlorine from attaching to the cuticle and drying out the hair. Also, after shampooing with the "ultraswim" my daugher likes aussie 3-minute miracle. Good luck!

Have the girls wet their hair before getting in the water and comb it into a smooth/tight bun in back. I was a swimmer for many years and have very curly hair that would be a disaster if I didn't slick it back. You also may want to run a little conditioner through their hair without rinsing before pulling back.

there is a shampoo that is specifically for swimmers. I did find this on the internet: Swimmers Hair Conditioner
by California Baby. I know that when I was young I was always in the pool and the chlorine just demolished it. You can also do a search in google under swimmers hair shampoo, there is a lot of information there that might help you as well!

Infusium 23, you can get it at Walgreens! It is a mild leave in conditioner and I've used it for years!I put it in a spray bottle and keep one bottle with my suntan lotion in my beach bag and the other is used daily on my 4 year old daughters' tangles.

I think Malibu makes a product for swimmers hair, butyou would have to get it at the beauty supply, your stylist or Sally Beauty. As for the tangles and stuff in the meantime...
Comb a leave in condition or a small dab of thier regular conditioner thru thier hair. Put hair in a ponytail. Wrap ponytail into a bun, secure bun with another elastic.
Hope this helps.

why are swim caps out of the question?? They sell soft versions with designs on them, that aren't latex. If she has longer than shoulder length hair, I'm surprised the facility lets her not wear a cap.

Try wetting her hair first. You don't want the first water her hair soaks up to be the chlorinated water. If it is wet already before she goes in the pool, it will soak up less pool water.

Also you can wet and comb her hair very well before going in the pool. Do a braid or a bun or something so that when she gets out and showers right away it will be much easier to comb since there will be no opportunity to get snarly.

Actually I have a GREAT product. I teach at the pool in Bolingbrook and started using the honey shampoo and conditioner. My kids use it too because they are at the pool for lessons as well. This stuff works wonders!!

you can view it on my website

If you want I can get you some free samples so you can try it. I know you will be amazed! Its priced well and you don't need much, I actually water it down so it lasts FOREVER!

The kids have not had any problems with it in their eyes and their hair looks AWESOME! ITs a natural product so you know its safe too!


My daughter uses Neutrogena shampoo and conditioner. It's in a beige bottle with an orange cap. It's for extremely dry and damaged hair. Works like a charm for her.

With my girls, one of which has very fine hair that tangles easily, I always put in plenty of regular conditioner and then put their hair into ponies and braids. That keeps it from tangling. And then when we get home I wash and condition it again. Then follow-up with lots of leave in conditioner like the Suave or VO5 version you can get at Walmart.

Hope that helps.

I was a swimmer and also didn't wear swim caps cuz they hurt my head and broke my hair when I took them off. Everyone hates them, and now that many swimming places don't require the caps, few people wear them so if you DO wear them YOU look like the ONLY golfball there which is so embarressing for a little kid. Remembering my own struggle with that as a kid, I feel bad for yours!

My suggestion: Put her hair in (french if possible) braids which will keep them as close to the head as possible and keep her hair out of her way while swimming. If you can't french braid, clip the regular braids behind her head with barrettes.

Use moisturizing shampoo. Paul Mitchel makes a repairing conditioner that you leave in for a few minutes before you rinse. It's of course ridiculously expensive (you can buy it at nordstrom rack and walgreens and other places i think), and it's intended to be used a few times a week. That stuff totally saved my hair when nothing else could.

If these techniques don't work you can always give her an ultimatum. Accept the necessary precautions to have decent hair when swimming, wear a swim cap, or cut it short. It sounds mean but most swimming children I know have bobs or shoulder-length hair or even shorter and they still look girly and cute and their moms don't have a headache brushing it.

I really think that the repairing conditioner and braids should do the trick though. As a child the thought of cutting my hair would've killed me so I accepted any other option to avoid that. I also wonder how much chlorine they're putting in that pool if it's causing her hair so much trouble. Is her skin red too when she gets out? Cuz then it could be too much chlorine! Also, Johnson & Johnson makes a detangling hair spray that is quite good for brushing dry hair. *Always brush hair when dry; brushing wet hair is more likely to break it.

Good luck!

"Circle of Friends" melon leave-in conditioner is awesome. I even use it. We get ours at Snippets in Northbrook Court.

I always kept my daughters hair in a pony tail or french braid.

I would recommend Arbonne's To the Rescue, Hair Protectant from their Before Sun line! It is awesome and I use it without fail every time I take my kids swimming! By daughter's hair is not so messy afterwards! It is a conditioning spray that detangles and adds shine to their hair. All of Arbonne's products are botanically based and dermatologist and pediatrician tested, so they shouldn't ahve any reaction to this product...this product is great! Check it out at www.kristenstemple.myarbonne.com and click on shop online. You will find this product under the Anti-Aging line and in the Before Sun category...some great products for you too if you are in the sun alot to prevent sun damage!!!

Good Luck with whatever you choose!

Get Aloe Rid Shampoo and Aloe Rid Treatment from Nexxus. I would go to Sally Beauty Supply to get it. You'll also get the best deal there as opposed to Target or Jewel, etc. I would use the shampoo on all the days they swim, and once a week I would do the aloe rid treatment ( great for you too, as it will rid your hair of product build-up, meds, hard water deposits, etc.), maybe you can all get gorgeous together:)THen I would follow it up with a good deep conditioner, humectress is a great one from nexxus that I would definately reccomend after an aloe rid treatment. Also, get some plastic caps at Sally's and let it sit in the hair about ten minutes or so. Then this can be followed with matainence aloe rid shampoo, and you may find you you only need to do the treatment once or twice a month. Hope this helps.

Hi A.,
I'm surprised no one mentioned Frizz-Eaze products. Get them at Walgreens. I also use good old-fashioned Alberto VO5 Conditioning Hairdressing in the tube, just rub some in your hands and run it through her hair before swimming. It acts as a barrier. In between swims, wash her hair with only conditioner, no shampoo. This works great for me, it should work for the little mermaid!

girls are so funny everyone one will laugh and your girls will probably go yuk no way not in my hair but it does work very well go to the store get a jar of real mayonnaise mix with 2 egg whites apply to there hair wrap in a towel for about 15 minutes rinse & shampoo do this about 2x week

I work for a Wellness company. We have over 350 fantastic non toxic, naturally derived products that you use everyday. There are great shampoos and conditioners that do not cause allergic reactions. Also,its a wonderful way to "goGreen" quickly and you can shop from home and save money. The average family saves over $600.00 per year! Our products are scientifically proven and work better than store bought. I would love to introduce you to a safer and healthier life style. It wont take much of your time. Please call me at ###-###-#### and ask for R..

Hi A.-

It's hard to keep their hair nice if they won't wear a cap. I swam for years and the best thing was to get your hair wet in the shower first (your hair will soak up the unchlorinated water instead of pool water) and then put some conditioner on and then the cap. You could at least try getting their hair wet and see if it helps.


it works amazing. My mom used it on me when i was a little girl and now i use it on my daughter, who also takes swim lessons.

It works on wet OR dry hair and always does a great job getting the hair in an easy-to-comb-through state.

Hope that helps!

I'm a hairstylist also, I agree with all of the other postings.I would add use a moisturizing shampoo on all other washings and the Infusium 23 leave-in condtioner after every shampoo, swimming or not to build the strength as well as regular trims. A.

Hi A.- I'm a PTWM-I'm a hair stylist. I always recommend that all my clients wet their kid's hair down and put conditioner in it Before going swimming-this creates a barrier from the chlorine, not allowing it to penetrate into the hair. It should do the trick. Also, use a clarifying shampoo once a week-not everyday-as it will dry out the hair, making it more difficult to comb through. Hope this helps!

I have to tell you that if you can get your kids to wear a swim cap, it really helps. My daughter was on swim team for 4 years, winter and summer, practice up to five days a week with weekend She wore a non-latex swim cap with a cool design that she picked out. We also used a swimmers shampoo. It worked out really well. I even have a hany tip for getting the cap on easily, if you decide to go that route.

for really bad tangles in my daughters hair, I will use a quality (grown-up) shampoo and conditioner... any kind you prefer, but I like the Matrix line for myself a lot, esp their "conditioning balm"... really wonderful. Then a follow-up after bath with Paul Mitchel leave- in conditioner. That stuff works really well, but it's all a little pricey, and don't know how their skin would react since it sounds like they may be sensitive to some things. This stuff all works great on tangles and frizzies though. I buy it at Ulta, and try to watch for sales.

Hi A.,

I love to swim (I am a regular swimmer), but it does do a number on hair.

For preventive steps, I agree with the moms who've already posted - wet their hair really good first before they get in the pool and braid it or put it back to prevent tangles. A new haircut is also a good idea to get rid of some of that damaged hair.

For keeping their hair nice after swimming, something you could try that I have used since I was a kid is Joico Chelating Shampoo. It is a specialty product, so it is a little more expensive, but it works amazingly well. It is designed to remove chlorine from hair after swimming. Don't use a leave-in conditioner (seems like that doesn't work for your girls), but you can use a really good conditioner (maybe use a conditioner designed for damaged/colored/dry hair - those are pretty good for this too) and just leave the conditioner in while they finish bathing/showering - wait to rinse until the last possible minute. Another thing you can do since it is so tangled after swimming, is put in some conditioner first to get the tangles out and then use the Joice, followed by more conditioner. It may seem like a lot of steps, but it really does work. Since their hair is already so damaged, it will take at least a couple of weeks I would think to really see any difference, but stick with it!! This stuff really does help and a good restorative conditioner can make a huge difference! To find the chelating shampoo, just google "joico chelating shampoo." It is carried by most salons. Good luck!!

I am a swimmer. I use a conditioning balm after my dechlorinating shampoo which is Malibu 2000. My condition balm is Biolage by Matrix it is a hydrotherapy for the hair and scalp. Got this a Ultra. My hair person highly recommended it for me. Have used it for years. the biggest thing is to get the chlorine out of the hair first.

Keep on swimming,,,,

My hair lady told me to wet my hair first and then put in a little leave in conditioner. If your hair is wet with good water adn conditioner, it will not soak up as much chlorine water

When my daughter swims she uses the clarifying shampoo from Great Clips. It works great.
Good luck.

Check at your local beauty supply or shop for a demineralizing shampoo. I use Malibu 2000 on my clients that have swimmers hair, well water hair or chemical deposits from medication.

I had the same problem with my kids hair so I went to Sally Beauty Supply and purchased a swimmers shampoo. The name of it is ion its in a white bottle with a deep pink color cap thay also have other products for swimmers. I hope it works. The shampoo runs $5.99 for a 16oz. bottle.


Try a deep conditioning treatment several times a week. you can get some deep penetrating conditioner from Sally's Beauty Supply.

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