Ask an Expert: How Do I Protect My Natural Hair When Swimming?

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Sammy LaCombe is a licensed hairstylist that has been working in the industry for 7+ years. She has always had an eye for beautiful hair and its care. So we’re excited to apply her expertise to your crucial hair concerns. Remember, if you have questions for our experts you can submit them on our submissions page.



I have been wearing my natural afro for several years. I plan on taking swimming lessons and would like to change my hairstyle. I want to keep it natural. What are my options?

Thank you.

– Secundra


Without proper care, your hair will certainly suffer [from the dangers of chlorine]. Here are some ways you can protect your hair:

  • Wet hair before you take a dip! Dry hair absorbs way more water and soaks up more chlorine or sea salt. So wet it prior to getting in the water.
  • Apply a rich oil (my preference is unrefined coconut oil) [get some online here]. This will help coat the hair shaft and serve almost as a barrier between the hair and water absorption.
  • Next, seal the hair shaft with a conditioner of your choice and two strand twist or braid your hair to prevent tangling or matting.
  • Finally, secure it with a quality swimming cap! It may totally cramp your style, but if you’re going to be swimming often, it will be the best thing you could do for your hair!

Post Swim Tips:
After you’ve completed your swim, rinse hair thoroughly. Then, gently shampoo with a sulfate free shampoo. Condition as normal (or deep condition if you are color treated). For avid swimmers, use a clarifying shampoo once a week to deep clean all the chlorine or sea salt that may have penetrated into the hair shaft. Also, do a protein treatment bi-weekly to strengthen stressed out hair!

As far as a style you can wear while swimming, it’s really hard to choose an ideal look because it will still get wet! If you choose to wear braids or a weave, these tips still are highly recommended!


Sammy is experienced with all hair types and textures, but specializes in natural curly hair, precision cuts, and weaves/extensions. A master of her craft,  she is constantly working on her own innovative techniques and always pushing the boundaries of hair. She regularly styles hair for fashion shows and photo/video shoots and enjoys doing styles for weddings and other special occasions. Wearable glam that you can play up or play down is her approach to hair designs. Embracing, yet enhancing your natural beauty is her ultimate goal.

Twitter: @sammylacombe / Instagram: @hairbysammylacombe / Site:

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