Swimming While Black – Water Sports & Natural Hair

Curly hair presents very real challenges to swimmers. Aside from damage and dryness caused by exposure to chlorine, there’s the time it takes to wash, condition, and style thick, tight textures.  

When you consider the decades of segregation and racism that have historically prevented people of color from accessing municipal swimming spots, it’s no wonder that the sport of swimming lacks diversity.  

In this year’s Olympic games, athlete Alice Dearing requested to wear a swim cap designed to accommodate her natural hair, only to be denied by the International Swimming Federation (FINA). To many, this incident brought a new focus to the lack of diversity in water sports.

There is much to be said about why there aren’t more black swimmers. We believe that there is a need to educate and empower both athletes and casual swimmers to fully participate in a healthy and enjoyable sport. If you didn’t know, there is a long and dark racial history behind swimming. Use the buttons below to learn more on this topic.

The two main issues with swimming and curly hair are unwanted exposure to water and chlorine damage. Those that heat style their hair may have concerns about curl reversion. Those with natural curls and protective styles have concerns about frizz and dryness. The best way to prevent both is to wear a tight-fitting swim cap, such as the one Alice Dearing attempted to wear during the Olympic Games (Visit the SOUL CAP website).  

If a swim cap isn’t a realistic option for you, here are some tips for protecting your hair in the pool: 

  • Pre-treat your hair with a sealant such as Happy Endings™ (finer hair types) and Emollience™ (coarser hair types) to prevent wetting and chlorine exposure.
  • Wash and condition your hair immediately after swimming and full immersion to remove chlorine and restore moisture. We recommend Get Clean™ and Intense Quench™. Both help to nourish and hydrate dry hair after swimming in chlorinated water.
  • Schedule monthly Moisture Detoxes™ to remove chlorine AND restore moisture to the hair. This multi-action treatment is designed to optimize moisture, remove build-up, and enhance curl groupings with long-lasting results. Call 734.340.4022 to book your Moisture Detox™ or find a Moisture Detox™ certified salon near you.

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