7 post-swim shampoos that save your hair from chlorine and salt
Keep your hair feeling fresh all summer long.
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A day at the pool or beach is all fun in the sun until it’s time to head home to wash and detangle your hair. We all know the struggle: The ends of your hair are dry, the crown of your head is matted, and let’s not even talk about how brittle the strands feel—even more so if you have dry, curly locks like mine. Blame chlorine and salt water for that. Thankfully, clarifying shampoos, a.k.a., the superhero of hair cleansers, can make all of the difference when it comes to treating your hair post-swim.
Chlorine is essential for keeping the pool clean and slime-free, but when it comes to the hair, it’s your worst enemy. It strips away natural oils in the hair, causing dryness, and it’s even known for tinting lighter hair colors green. And while salt water isn’t as evil as chlorine, it can still leave your hair feeling dense, dry, and in need of a refresh. Because none of those are exactly hair goals, you can turn to clarifying shampoos to help reverse the damaging effects of chlorine.
The main purpose of clarifying shampoo is to remove impurities and buildup to reset the hair to feel clean and lightweight again. Because these products are powerful enough to dissolve silicones, oils, and minerals, they are often formulated with harsh cleansers, like sulfates, that can leave the hair feeling overly clean and dry. Therefore, it’s always best to pair with a super-hydrating conditioner to keep the hair and scalp balanced and well moisturized, and select products that are safe for color-treated hair if that describes yours.
1. For oily hair: Bumble and Bumble Sunday Clarifying Shampoo
If you have oily strands, chances are, you’re reaching for a clarifying shampoo more often than most. That’s because traditional shampoos may not be strong enough to wash away greasy buildup.
Bumble and Bumble’s Sunday Clarifying Shampoo is the equivalent of a weekly green juice for your hair, with ingredients like panax ginseng root extract and rosemary that claim to clean and balance the scalp. It gets rid of all the gunk, chemicals, and residue built-up from time inside and outside of the pool, and refreshes the hair as if the dip in a chlorinated water never happened. It’s garnered 4.7 out of five stars on Sephora and reviewers can’t get enough of how clean their hair feels after use.
One Sephora reviewer writes: “Amazing shampoo! I’m in the chlorine four to five times a week, [and on] the last day in the pool, I will use this shampoo along with a hair mask and oh boy! My hair always feels amazing.”
Get Bumble and Bumble Sunday Clarifying Shampoo at Sephora for $27
2. For dry hair: Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo
If you have naturally dry hair like me, it’s usually best to shy away from clarifying shampoos, as they tend to be very drying. But this oil-infused formula is far from drying and is my go-to when I need a deep cleanse.
As with all Moroccanoil hair products, this shampoo contains argan oil, which not only gives hair a mega-dose of moisture, but helps soften and smooth strands, too. Goodbye, frizz! But my favorite part about using this shampoo is how squeaky-clean my scalp feels afterward. I tend to be heavy-handed with styling products and product buildup is a regular occurrence for me, but this rich shampoo cleans my scalp and hair and leaves my tresses soft to the touch. Basically, it’s a win all around.
3. For preventing blond hair from turning green: Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Shampoo
This gentle formula has a combo of plant-based proteins, aloe vera, and vitamins to help repair and protect the health of the hair. That unsightly, brassy, green tint that chlorine gives blond hair? Not with this product. It can also retroactively remove any green or brassy tones that already developed in the hair. And it even helps to prevent discoloration upon subsequent swims.
One Amazon reviewer wrote: “My highlighted hair no longer hates the pool!” Need we say more?
4. For keeping your hair color intact: Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo
If you have color-treated hair, you know that grabbing just any old shampoo is a big no-no—it can strip out your beautiful tint along with buildup. To maintain your color without dull or brass, it’s essential to reach for formulas that are safe for colored hair. This clarifying shampoo is often used to help rid hair of dirt and build-up before a coloring session in-salon, but it also works to wash away chlorine and salt water, too.
One Ulta reviewer said, “I've tried several clarifying shampoos over the years from drugstore brands to top of the line salon brands. This is the best! It does the job without drying or altering my color-treated hair. It left my hair soft, shiny and easier to style. This is now my go-to clarifying shampoo.”
5. For wavy or curly hair: Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo
Full disclosure: This is one of my favorite shampoos whether I hit the pool or not. I have very curly hair and a lot of it, so shampooing can be more of a curse than a blessing most of the time. And because curly hair needs natural oils in it to stay luscious, it’s crucial to reach for a cleanser that doesn’t strip my hair completely dry.
That’s where the Ouidad Water Works comes into play. Instead of harsh cleansing agents, it uses fruit acids to get rid of salt and chlorine. Those same extracts also help to remove any build-up on the hair while leaving it soft, manageable, and most importantly, hydrated. And while it’s marketed for curly hair, anyone can reap the benefits of this shampoo. It’s even safe for color-treated hair, too.
Get the Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo at Ulta for $18
6. For deep-cleaning hair and scalp: Oribe The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo
This pick comes with a hefty price tag for a shampoo, but don’t scroll past. There’s just so much to love about this cleanser. For starters, it’s a mousse formula, which means the lather is super rich and creamy—it makes shower time feel more like a pampering session at a spa. As for the ingredients, you’ll find volcanic ash that claims to gently exfoliate the scalp and hair, sea kelp extract to help remove buildup, and green tea extract to protect and repair damage. Even if you only use this shampoo after your pool time, it’s totally worth the investment and it’ll likely last you a long time that way.
One Blue Mercury reviewer writes: “I love this shampoo foam. I use it about once a week, and it does a beautiful job of cleaning deeply, whilst not stripping my hair. Feels great on my scalp! My hair always looks super shiny and bouncy after.”
7. For kids or frequent swimmers: TriSwim Kids Chlorine Removal Shampoo
No parent enjoys the kicks and screams that come with shampooing and detangling kiddie hair after a day at the beach. I’m talking about knots galore. This shampoo was made with little swimmers in mind. It’s formulated with aloe vera, pro-vitamin B5, and vitamin A to help melt away tangles, remove discoloration, and wash away chlorine, salt, bromine, and hard water minerals. It’s also safe for daily use if your little ones (or you!) take a dip in the pool frequently.
“My blond children spend every day in the pool in the summer,” says one Amazon reviewer. “This shampoo gets rid of and prevents green hair from chlorine exposure.”
Get TriSwim Kids Chlorine Removal Shampoo at Amazon for $16.99
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