Black women know that chlorinated pools and hair are not the best of friends, and many of us have suffered from ignoring that fact. I too am one who spent my childhood in swimming pools all summer long and my hair (and skin) paid deeply for it.
But staying away from pools this summer isn’t the only thing you have to worry about as your shower head is also pushing out chlorinated tap water. Unless you’re buying bottled water (or using a special sink/shower filter*), then your hair is being damaged by chlorine each time you shampoo.
How is chlorine affecting you hair?
Chlorine has different effects on different types of hair. For instance, those who were born with red or blond hair have different effects from chlorine than someone who has brunette or black hair.
But for black women, chlorine typically has the same effect, but more so on hair that has been damaged by heat or chemicals (relaxers and dyes) and that is already thin or dry.
Here’s how chlorine is damaging your chances of obtaining healthy natural hair:
It dries out your hair:
Naturally, your hair produces oils* that give it shine and moisture. But when you’re washing your hair in chlorinated water, these natural oils* are stripped away, leaving your hair looking dry and dull.
This calls for more products, like butters* and leave-in moisturizers to combat this. The hard outer layer that protects your hair are also worn down by chlorine, making it less smooth — this is why you get hair that feels rough.
It makes your hair brittle and weak:
Your hair is weaker when it’s soaking wet — about 20% weaker to be exact. Our hair loves to soak up water anyway, and when it does, it’s also soaking in that chlorine.
After you get out of the shower, the chlorine (which is made up of a salt solution) crystallizes inside of your hair fibers once your has dried. These crystals sit on the surface and can weaken the strands of your hair, making it more brittle and easier to break off (goodbye hair growth progress!)
What should you do about chlorine?
Your hair is the treasure that you have to safeguard from this chemical world we live in. It’s enough that we have to stay away from certain products, and now we can’t even trust the water in our homes.
Thankfully, there is a solution, which is to buy a shower head filter* that removes as much chlorine and other harsh chemicals and metals that too are damaging your hair.
I personally use one (Sprite Showers* brand), but there are a variety of them you can choose from. You can buy them from the product’s site or on Amazon. After weeks of using these shower heads, depending on how often you wash, you should notice a slight difference in your hair, especially if you air dry.
If you’re familiar with chloramines (another contamination in our city water supplies) and want to remove them as well, then you’ll need a special shower head that has a vitamin-C based filter. Supposedly, this is the only way to remove chloramines (also removes chlorine).
Purchasing a shower head filter can also benefit your skin — which too absorbs these toxins. It’s been found that 60% of the chlorine our bodies absorb daily comes from showering. The amount of damage it’s doing to your skin will be saved for another article, though.
When shopping around for a shower head filter*, make sure that it at least removes 80% of chlorine, VOCs and heavy metals. All of these play a big role in damaging your locks. So keep that in mind as you’re looking around.