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The best way to get chlorine out of your hair

Kerry`s question: I swim 3-4 times a week and use Ultra Swim Chlorine Removal Shampoo and Pantene conditioner. I’m wondering if the shampoo is actually getting rid of the chlorine or just stripping it of any oils since my hair always feels almost “squeaky clean” after using it.

The Right Brain Responds:

First of all, we should point out that any good deep cleaning or clarifying shampoo will get rid of surface oils and make your hair feel squeaky clean. That`s to be expected but it`s not really related to how well it removes chlorine.

Does Ultra Swim do anything special to get rid of chlorine? Not really. It does contain a chemical called sodium thiosulfate that can THEORETICALLY react with chlorine, but we`re not aware of any practical evidence to show that really works. If you`re curious, check out this article for an excellent summary of the chemistry of chlorine on hair. Although the author makes a few inaccurate statements about shampoo ingredients, it is a nice summary of the chemical interaction of chlorine and sodium thiosulfate.

Chlorine can do nasty things to your hair – it can bleach your color and it can leave a residual odor. But once it`s in your hair the damage is mostly done. Basically, you just have to keep washing your hair until the chlorine is gone.

The best way to get chlorine out of your hair is stop it from getting in there in the first place! Use a good silicone conditioner BEFORE exposing your hair to chlorinated pool water. That will prevent your hair from absorbing so much chlorine and will mitigate the nasty side effects.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bennett Fischer December 2, 2015, 2:26 pm

    My wife hates the feels of having chlorine in her hair, but she isn’t sure how to get rid of it. That being said, I really appreciate you sharing this with me and for letting me know of some awesome ways she can go about removing the chlorine from her hair after swimming. I’m sure this is going to help her out a ton. Thanks for letting me know about this.

  • Paul July 4, 2017, 12:04 am

    Sorry folks, sodium thiosulfate *does* work better than shampoos alone.

    Chlorine levels in tap water (used to fill aquariums) is harmful to some tropical fish and so has to be removed. The remedy is to add sodium thiosulfate to eliminate chlorine radicals (Cl*, Cl2, or ClO) by reducing the chlorine oxidation state to Cl-, which is just the dissociated form of NaCl–which makes salt water. Salt water doesn’t make your hair smell bad or turn green, even though it has buckets of Cl- in it.

    Thiosulfate shampoos (like Ultraswim) may not reduce all the reacted chlorine in your hair and on your skin but it will do a better job than water alone or any other agent that is not an ionization state reducing agent.

    As a masters swimmer, I have been using it for years with good results.