Loc’d Life’s Swimmers Guide

78001769-1With Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer, (and a reader request!), I wanted to talk about swimming and locs.

I guarantee that a pool—or some body of water in which to swim—will make an appearance in your summer. Swimming is a great form of exercise, too.

Loc wearers have to be careful when it comes to swimming. Yes, we enjoy the freedoms of wash-and-go hair, but you do need to protect and remove what salty oceans, chlorinated pools, and even the sun’s UV rays can do to locs.

What does it do? Dry locs out within an inch of their lives! A few years ago, I remember talking to a loc’d lifeguard who color treated his tips. He found that one day his locs just started snapping right off! ESPECIALLY if you’re your locs are color-treated, you need to take special care to enjoy your day at the pool. Here’s how:

  1. 17668-2T-259x292-AUTOAdd a protective barrier before your dip. Pre-condition your locs before they get in contact with water. One way is to thoroughly wet your locs with tap water. If they’re wet to begin with, their will be less room for pool water absorption later on. Another way is to use an oil barrier. You can use 100 percent shea butter on your locs, ensuring that you coat every loc from root to tip. You can also mix shea butter oil with olive and coconut oil to coat your locs, again from root to tip. Finally you can get an off-the shelf pre-treatment such as Reflect H20 Pre-Swim & Sun Protecting Gel. Work this gel in your locs beforehand. It is enriched with aloe leaf juice, rosemary, ivy extract, pro vitamin B5, Vitamin E and rice protein.
  1. Wear a swim cap. Most swim caps won’t completely protect your locs from getting wet. You will get some seepage behind the ears and around the edges. But for the most part, it will work. Here’s the challenging part: What will fit over longer, thicker locs? One to try: My Swim Cap in the Diva size (http://myswimstuff.com), sized especially for longer hair. It works with a band that wraps around the base and is secured with Velcro. Another one to dry, made especially for locs is Dreadscapes swim caps. (They also make shower caps, too!) Yet another loc-specific choice is EGGhead Soques’ Swim Soque (http://eggheadsoques.com), made of neoprene and nylon. Whatever your choice, you can place your locs in a high ponytail and place the cap over them, completely folding your locs inside and covering the edges and base of your hair. For silicone caps, be careful with jewelry, sharp nails and other puncturing hazards. If you must be a true diva pool- or ocean-side, you can leave your locs treated (see #1) and uncovered outside the water, then put your cap on just for swimming.
  1. Rinse your locs after your dip. Start with a full-on water rinse and thoroughly rinse to remove as much salt or chlorine as possible. This also removes sweat, sand, and air-borne pollutants as well.
  1. swimmersnorm-shampo16Try a chorine-removing shampoo for your first lathering. There are many on the market that will remove chlorine. Some are more natural than others in doing the job. One to try: Aubrey’s Organics Swimmers Shampoo, which is a naturally-based shampoo that rids locs of chlorine with organic rice extract and conditions and protects with jojoba oil, quinoa protein, and sweet almond oil. Another one to try is TriSwim Shampoo, which removes chlorine, chlorine odor, salt, and the greenish tint some may experience with lighter, color-treated locs. It contains aloe vera and ProVitamins B5 and A. What is unique to note about this shampoo is that it’s sold in large, bulk bottles, which cost $75. If you swim a lot and have long locs, your locs will laugh at a small tube of shampoo! Use it for your first lathering. You can then follow up with your regular shampoo.
  1. Deep condition your locs. You’re almost there! A deep conditioner will do wonders. A hot oil treatment, a hair masque, or your regular deep conditioner will work. Remember, if you don’t regularly deep condition your hair and you swim very often, you will need to do something regularly that penetrates into your locs to restore the drying effects of salt, sweat, and chlorine. An instant conditioner just won’t do.
  1. Air dry your crown. It would be a shame to do all this restorative treatment, only to use a blow dryer to dry your locs out. Try to let your locs air dry, as this is the most gentle way to dry. Make sure that you let them dry thoroughly.
  1. Take it easy on coloring your locs. This may be the season to reconsider how often you color your locs. Chlorine and ammonia (and the other harsh chemicals of hair color) just don’t mix! Wait a little longer between touchups or consider a natural hair color product. There are also home remedies, such as a black coffee rinse for locs to darken them, or a lemon juice rinse to lighten locs. To darken, soak locs in your darkest brew of coffee possible. Let it cool, apply to locs, and let it sit for a while to achieve the desired color. To lighten, apply lemon juice and sit in the sun a while. Even lemon juice can be drying, so read the above about deep conditioning afterwards.
  1. Tell your loctician you are a swimmer. He or she will keep that in mind when doing services such as coloring or conditioning.
  1. Be careful of wearing elaborate styles and swimming. With updos in particular, you will need to take them down to fully rinse and remove salt and chlorine and to fully condition. You can be cute—just remember cute and dry locs don’t work too well!

That’s it—your Loc’d Life Guide to swimming with locs. Have fun in the sun. Just don’t forget about caring for your crown! Also, don’t forget to vote for your loc shampoo. Keep those votes coming!

Gail Mitchell, Editor Loc'd Life Magazine‘Till next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine




One thought on “Loc’d Life’s Swimmers Guide

  1. Thank you for this post! My locs are 11 months and last week I jumped into the pool without any preparation. Yikes! Post-swim, I rinsed well and washed using Whole Foods brand shampoo. I do not maintain my locs myself; I visit a talented and skilled natural hairstylist once per month. This cleaning was the first time I washed my hair myself. Oh and did I mention my locs have permanent color? Needless to say I experienced dryness “within an inch of their lives” (as you poignantly describe). The next day I drove to Whole Foods and purchased a few oils to nurse them back to life (i.e., apricot oil and jojoba oil). The next time I swim I will take your advice. I just hope my stylist isn’t mortified when I am back in her chair in two weeks.

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