Perm and Swimming

Curly permed hair and swimming pool
Photo: Sylv1rob1/Shutterstock
Q: Hi there, I was just wondering: how long after getting a perm do I have to wait to swim in a pool?
A: Well, most salons will advise that you give your hair between 48 and 72 hours after a perm service to allow the hair to return to its normal balance before you do anything like shampoo your hair.
Some salons advise against getting the hair wet at all during this period. Most of these advisements come as a result of the need to prevent people from doing things that would end up damaging their freshly permed hair.
The perming process tends to leave the hair more porous than it was prior to perming, because the chemicals used to create the curl patterns raise the cuticle layer of the hair and allow moisture to pass more readily into and out of the hair shaft. The waiting period gives the hair time to “reset” to its more-natural balance and lets the cuticle layer settle back down. This means that until the cuticle layer closes fully, anything that can have an effect on the hair can do so more readily.
The chemicals used in swimming pools and hot tubs to condition the water and control fungus and bacteria growth (such as chlorine) can be very harsh to the hair under normal circumstances, and to permed hair they can be doubly so if you aren’t careful. I suggest waiting at least three days after perming before you get your hair wet in a swimming pool. This would preferably be after you’ve had your first shampoo and conditioning treatment post-perm.
I know they aren’t fashionable to many women, but you could also try a swimming cap to protect your hair. If this isn’t an option, remember to rinse your hair with fresh water every time you come out of the pool (so that the chlorinated and chemically infused water doesn’t sit on your hair any longer than necessary).
And you should be using a swimmer’s shampoo and conditioner after every swim as these contain ingredients to neutralize the effects of chlorine and other common pool chemicals. This is a good idea whether your hair is permed or not if you swim a lot.
See also:
Style and wet newly permed hair
How soon following a perm can one get hair wet in a spa tub?