Be it a summer trip to the beach or swim lessons at the pool, if your little one is swimming with natural hair, you’ll need to make sure their hair stays protected.
Chlorine can be very damaging if left unchecked in your little one’s hair. And even though it’s all-natural, seawater can be drying and damaging (not to mention all of the dirt and tiny “critters” that are in the water. Yikes!)
Here are 5 tips to protect your little one’s precious tresses when they’re swimming with natural hair.
Step 1: Wet It Up
It may seem silly to wet your little one’s hair before they go swimming, but this tip is a MUST if you want to truly protect their hair.
Hair strands swell when wet. There are shingle-like flaps that run the length of natural hair strands. Those open up and allow the strand to absorb whatever liquid it’s exposed to. Would you rather your child’s hair strands absorb fresh, clean water or chemicals and dirt from the pool? 😏 Here’s hoping you picked option 1.
Before hopping into the pool or ocean, take a few moments to fully saturate your little one’s hair with fresh water. After that, you’ll want to...
Step 2: Prime the hair with an Oil or a Leave-In Conditioner Before Swimming with Natural Hair
You could easily do this the night before, but at some point before a swim, you’ll want to treat the hair to some good stuff before you expose it to the icky stuff.
Dampen the hair and then apply an oil or leave-in conditioner. California Baby has its Swimmer’s Defense Hair Conditioner with natural, light ingredients that make it the perfect pre-swim product.
California Baby Swimmer’s Defense Hair Conditioner
Or, if you choose to go the oil route, keep it natural and use a light oil like grapeseed oil. Coat the strands and make sure you take a little more time to get those ends.
Brooklyn Botany Grapeseed Oil
The goal here is to “feed” the hair with good things, so the bad things like chlorine or saltwater have no room to come in. With that in mind, you definitely don’t need to overdo it - Not unless you want to sentence your AfroBaby to taste hair products during their swim.
Step 3: Put the Hair Into a Protective Style Before Swimming with Natural Hair
After wetting the hair and applying your oil or leave-in, you’ll want to put the hair into a protective style. Whether it’s cornrows or 2-strand twists, a protective style will stop tangles in their tracks.
If you place the hair into four sections, the hair will basically be prepped and ready for the next step when the swimming is all done.
Most summers, I’ve chosen to put my own AfroBaby’s hair into a long-term protective style. At the start of the summer, I’ll install box braids or small 2-strand twists because my girl loves a good swim.
I deep condition with heat and thoroughly moisturize before installing the style and follow steps 1 and 2 before swimming like normal.
Step 4: Get Clarity
If your little one is swimming with natural hair regularly, you’ll want to do a clarifying treatment. You won’t want to do this more than once a month, but you definitely want to make it a point to get it in. This will ensure that you’re removing any icky things that may have made their way into the hair strands.
You can use a gentle clarifying shampoo without those stripping surfactants like Kinky Curly Come Clean Natural Moisturizing Shampoo. The Kinky Curly brand is an AfroBaby fav, and their clarifying shampoo doesn’t disappoint.
I’ve used it on both my AfroBaby and me, and both my 4c hair type and her 4B hair type take to it beautifully. It doesn’t dry either of our hair out yet makes it feel squeaky clean.
Kinky Curly Come Clean Natural Moisturizing Shampoo
*Bonus tip: Skip Steps 1 Through 4 and Simply Have your AfroBaby Wear a Swim Cap.
It may be a pain to put on (although there are techniques), but you can’t deny that a good swim cap can save you from tons of headaches.
Swim caps have come a long way. The trick is finding one that fits your AfroBaby’s head snuggly so that it actually keeps the water out.
Here are a few hand-picked caps to consider:
Swim Caps for Long Hair Kids
Silicone Swimming Cap with Ear Covers
Happy Mane Silicone Swim Cap for Braids and Locks
Do you have any tips or tricks to protect your little one’s hair while swimming? Let’s talk about it in the comments!