Swimming and hair care

 Swimming and hair care

Come summer and most of us head for the swimming pool. There is nothing as cooling as a dip in the pool. Swimming is also a great workout because it exercises most of the muscle groups of the body.

Swimming in a pool can lead to some hair problems due to chlorine and other chemicals in the water. Chlorine is used in swimming pools to disinfect the water and keep it clean. But it can have a detrimental effect on the hair, in terms of its health and beauty. For one thing, it strips the hair of oils and makes it extremely dry. The hair also becomes matted and rough. Chlorine also affects the cuticles and makes the hair dull. The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair and contributes to its shine. Repeated exposure to chlorine can make the hair brittle, leading to problems like split ends and hair breakage.

Sometimes light coloured hair can become greenish after swimming in a swimming pool, although this is not due to chlorine, but minerals like copper in the water. As far as after-care is concerned, coloured hair needs greater care, with hot oil and deep conditioning treatments. Use mild shampoos with built-in conditioning. A creamy conditioner or hair serum should be applied before swimming, to provide protection.

It is a good idea to wet the hair thoroughly before a swim. Hair is porous and it can absorb that much and no more. Wet hair will absorb less chlorinated water. Apply a conditioner or hair serum and wear a cap before swimming. Conditioners and serum coat the hair and protect it.  The hair should be rinsed thoroughly with water after a swim. This helps to wash out the chlorine to a great extent.

Dry hair may be washed two or three times a week. However, if you swim every day, it may be necessary to wash the hair more often, using very little shampoo. Dilute the shampoo with a little water before application. Mild herbal shampoos, containing ingredients like amla, bael and brahmi, are suitable for dry hair. After shampoo, use a creamy conditioner, massaging it lightly into the hair. Leave it on for two minutes and then rinse with plain water. This helps to soften the hair and make it smooth and manageable. One can also use a hair serum or leave-on type of conditioner. Take very little and apply it the same way, but do not rinse off. Apply conditioners on the ends too. The hair may be oiled twice a week, the night before shampoo.

Oily hair may need to be washed every third day, or even more frequently. If you wash your hair frequently, use less shampoo and rinse well with water. A hair rinse works better on oily hair than creamy conditioners. The hair may be oiled once a week, the night before shampoo.

Whatever your hair type, a most important factor is your diet. The hair is actually fed by the nutrients in the blood stream. Include fresh fruits, raw salads, sprouts, yogurt, cottage cheese, beans and lentils (dal) to your diet. If you are a non-vegetarian, include fish and chicken. Drink plenty of water. For oily hair, add the juice of a lemon to a glass of water and have it first thing in the morning. Have fresh fruit juices, diluted with water. Of course, if you are suffering from any disease, it is best to consult a doctor before making changes in your diet.

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