African-American Hair & Chlorine

Young girl with African-American hair
Photo: Tiffany Bryant/Shutterstock
Q: My daughter recently started swimming lessons. I've heard so many horror stories about our hair and chlorine (we are African-American). I'm interested in products and techniques to keep her hair healthy.
I'm a working mom, who works overnight and I do my daughter's hair for the week (braids). She swims at least twice a week.

A: Apart from the usual care given to the hair to keep it healthy in braiding it, be sure to keep the hair well conditioned. And in order to protect the hair from the harsh ravages of chlorine, you need to get your daughter an "anti-chlorine shampoo and conditioner" which can be found at your local beauty supply store or online.
These shampoos are designed to be gentle to the hair, but contain ingredients to neutralize the chlorine that is left in the hair from swimming in pools and soaking in hot tubs. You may also want to be careful not to braid your daughter's hair too tightly during her swimming season, as during the exposure to the chlorine her hair may become more susceptible to breakage, and the extra tension of the braiding could cause damage.
I also highly recommend a swimmer's cap for anyone who wants to make sure the hair is more protected from exposure to chlorine. Depending on the length of your daughter's braids, a cap may be impractical, but if she can wear one (and you can get her to do so), I highly recommend it.
Otherwise, I suggest that the night before she goes to her swim lessons (or the morning of) you apply a coating of conditioner to the hair to help slow the absorption of chlorine into the hair.
See also:
Is there a way I can protect my hair from the chlorine when swimming?
The special needs of African-American hair