Swimming Is Bad For Your Skin And Hair

Swimming Is Bad For Your Skin And Hair


I love to swim laps in summer for exercise. Swimming is great, it increases your cardio fitness really quickly and gently tones every muscle in your body. I swim with flippers which is cheating a bit I know, but I love to go fast and flippers are a great way to easily be a super speedy swimmer.

The problem is, public pools are totally crap for your skin and hair AND a big problem if you’ve got acne.

Chlorine is a heavy chemical that is needed in public pools for hygiene. Trust me, no matter how bad it is for your body you’d much rather have it there just so you don’t get sick from other swimmers nasties …and little kids accidents.

Fran, the super spotty chlorine monster

When I get out of the pool, I feel myself drying up straight away. I have dry skin to start with so it’s noticeable how much worse it gets. If I don’t rinse the chlorine off straight away, my body starts to almost preserve like cured meat! My face especially gets really tight and sore and strangely, my skin tone goes weird. The chlorine brings out every freckle, mark and pimple on my face. I’m quite spotty really. I have a lot of freckles on my face and a few pimples, so I turn into a super spotty monster.

It gets worse. My hair also gets really brittle when it dries and kind of blonde at the roots. Not a good look for a red head. Admittedly, if I wore a swimming cap I could probably fix this problem but I still haven’t gotten over the dag factor on that one yet. Swimming caps are so uncool! Anyway, my hair dresser said I’d protect my hair a lot better if I put a heavy moisturiser on the tips of my hair before I went swimming. I’ve tried it and yeah, it does keep the tips nice and moisturised, but what about the rest of my hair!!

And then …even worse! is the fact that after you’ve had a shower the chlorine smell doesn’t go off your skin. So you’ve got all of this chlorine clinging onto you, seeping in your body and adding toxins to your liver. It’s really nasty. Chlorine does not smell like french perfume, it stinks and I don’t particular want to smell like it.

So why is it bad for acne?

Swimming in a heavily chlorinated pool is really not good for you when you’ve got benzyl peroxide on your face or if you’re planning to put it on your face. Last time I went swimming, I put the benzyl peroxide on that evening and it really stung my whole face. It must have reacted badly with the chlorine. Either that or my already dry face from all the chlorine couldn’t handle getting even dryer from all the benzyl peroxide. Chemical + chemical = disaster, always.Why can’t they made bacteria free natural organic swimming pools? A pool where we can all swim and be happy and clean and chemical free. A place where we can do laps without worrying about drying out or toxins getting into our liver.

I guess I can only dream for someone to invent something like that.

What you can do until they invent something else

In the meantime, be careful if you’re a keen swimmer. Make sure you rinse the chlorine off your body as soon as you get out of the pool and carry a moisturiser around with you so you can apply it as soon as possible. Oh, and get over thinking you’ll look uncool and wear a swimming cap.


10 comments… add one

  • Laura

    Well, for me, actually going to the pool helps me a lot with my acne. I actually clears my face completely. I hate the winter because since it is to cold, I cannot go to the pool and swim for hours and hours. And I usually break out a lot in the winter because of that. But when I start swimming again in the summer and everything. Puff, my acne is gone.

  • rekha

    Thanks a lot for the information,
    few years ago, i got my acne treated and then i went for swimming classes before the completion of the medication, my skin became worst with in 2 weeks of swimming classes, i didnt know this was the reason behind that. am getting my acne treatment again and will not repeate the same mistake.

  • Tougheeda

    Wow! Thanks everyone. I am a swim instructor for the past year and have been experiencing all of the above except the acne. The joint pain was my main reason for research. Thank you for all the other tips but can someone please filll me in if the chlorinated water is also the culprit to blame for my numb aching elbow and knee joints. I am in agony and the docs says its diabetes related or athritis. Please share your thoughts.

  • matthew

    i am a swimmer for my high school team. i suffer from very bad dryness, i use tretinoin cream and benzoyl peroxide. i had a horrible reaction. my face turned bright red, stung really bad, and my face swelled. using acne treatment and swimming is not a good idea. even when i put on moisturizer it stings.

  • Nadoush

    Hello Fran,
    I live in Canada and we use salt to keep our pool bacteria free. It’s very popular in North America and for the past couple of years most of the new pools are using salt not chlorine. It’s so much easier. We add salt (big huge bags, twice a season) that’s it, no chlorine ever! It takes a special part added to the motor of the pool if I remember it was about 2000$CAN. It’s amazing, my daughter has very dry skin and in summer her skin is much better, our hair is soft not brittle like a broom when we come out of the water and we can actually open our eyes in the pool without having red blood eyes.
    PS: LOVE your blog. Your great! Thanks for sharing!

  • I know this is an older entry, but there are actually salt water filters and solar filtering for pools, I think also. So, there is no need for the chlorine. =)

  • Hey Fran, thanks for the information, I didn’t know that chlorine could be dangerous for skin and hair! I’ll keep this in mind the next time I feel like swimming :)

  • Pia

    If you’re worried about daggy swimming caps, why don’t you go all out and get a retro one? I love the waffle weave or flower petal ones. Not sure if you can buy them in Oz but there’s some great ones at http://www.headcovers.com/item.php?cat=Swim+Caps&next=0

  • Omigod that’s crazy! I might start swimming in the ocean oly from now on.

  • Jessabelle

    Hi Fran,

    Thanks for your great post on Chlorine in pools. I often worry about the chemicals in pools. Once after swimming I suffered extreme tiredness and aching joints & musles for 24hrs. A workmate told me that this was probably due to the pool chemicals not being balanced properly and that her husband had actually been bedridden for 8mths from swimming in their home pool. Have you heard about these affects at all? Being a new pool owner I get to read chemical packaging & freak out a bit when I read “fatal to children”, “wear protective clothing and mask”, “do not smoke, eat or drink while handling product”, “do not inhale”….. It worries me a bit and those pool test kits don’t seem that accurate.

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