When the summer months become unbearably hot, I frequently long to swim in a body of water. Many curlies and coilies, however, are apprehensive to swim frequently because they do not know how to care for their hair before and after the pool. Everyone is not fond of or able to finance extensions so what is another styling alternative? Recently, NaturallyCurly community member Teal_lover5555 inquired about swimming and curly hair care.
What routine or technique should I use when I go swimming because my hair gets really dry?
Usually when I decide to go swimming, I mentally schedule it ahead of time. This summer I have been swimming weekly and my hair has not responded poorly at all. Here is how I prepare my hair for the swimming pool, lake, and other bodies of water I plan to enjoy.
Detangling before swimming is essential. The last thing you want is for your curls and coils to become even more intertwined with the shed hair that has not been released. The day before I plan to swim, I divide my hair in five sections, lightly dampen the sections with water, and saturate them with either Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, Herbal Essences Honey I’m Strong Strengthening Conditioner, or Yes to Cucumber Color Protection Conditioner. I then proceed to detangle my hair (preferably with a shower comb) from ends to roots, twist the detangled section in a chunky twist, and move on to the next section.
Absorb the Conditioner
After detangling, I rinse each section to release more shed hair, and then I use my fingers to shingle more conditioner throughout my hair. This is to encourage curl clumpage. Without using a comb or brush, I pull my hair into a bun with my ends tucked, and wrap my hair in a t-shirt to absorb the excess water. After I wash the rest of my body, I remove the t-shirt and secure my hair with a satin scarf and a satin bonnet. Before going to bed I place a raggedy t-shirt over my pillow for the little water that might seep through the bonnet (which is rarely any). This method allows my hair to absorb the conditioner the night before getting in the pool. With many conditioners, your hair needs a minimum of 15 minutes to absorb the nutrients, so a last-minute slather of conditioner may not be as effective.
Wear a Bun
After years of swimming with flat twists and chunky twists, I’ve learned that putting my coils in a bun is by far the best way my hair stays in place, and it also makes for an easier shampoo session afterwards. When I would wear a bun from an old twist out, flat twist out, or braid out, my hair was extremely tangled and matted after swimming. My logic is as follows: when the natural way your curls clump is separated, it tries to return, revert, or shrink to its original curl cluster once it interacts with water.
This is why the second time I apply conditioner with the intention of leaving it in, I apply it with my fingers so that I encourage curl clumpage. My hair is practically in a wash and go state in a bun. I know that may be hard to fathom, but when I release my hair from the ponytail holder, my 4a coils are intact and not spread across one another like a web. There is a difference between combing your hair into a bun versus gently pulling it into a bun. It makes a world of difference for my coils. This technique has prevented my curls from experiencing major moisture loss and it greatly reduces tangling.
For added protection from the water you can put on a swim cap. There are swim caps and turbans made especially for natural hair now, like the YGN Swim Turban (pictured above) which is lined with silicone on the inside, swim material on the outside, and has a sturdy elastic band around the edge to help keep the water out.
How do you style your hair for swimming?
Tell us in the comments section, below. And check out this article if you’re looking for information about a post-swimming hair routine.