By now, we have heard enough about the damaging effects of chlorine on our skin. While swimming is a necessary life skill and a great physical activity, the chlorine used to disinfect swimming pools is a cause of concern for many.
So are the claims true? If they are, what can swimming enthusiasts do to protect their skin? We have answered all this and more in this blog.
Why Is Chlorine Water Bad For Your Skin?
Chlorine is a very strong chemical that can break down your skin’s protective barrier. (1)
This may cause your skin to lose its essential oils, leading to inflammation and other skin issues. Chlorinated water can harm your skin in the following ways:
1. Causes Sun Damage And Darkening
When your skin is directly exposed to the sun, it triggers the production rate of melanin. Melanin is already there in skin. But, sun exposure increases its rate of synthesis, which causes skin darkening. As chlorine water breaks your skin barrier, there is nothing that can protect it from UV damage. This leads to sun burns and extreme tanning.
2. Causes Dryness
A weakened skin barrier means loss of essential oils and moisture. This can result in irritated, tight and dry skin.
3. Causes Premature Aging
Have you ever noticed wrinkles on the tip of your fingers after you wash your hands? Spending long hours in a pool full of chlorinated water can be worse for your skin.
As chlorine water eradicates your skin’s protective barrier, its deeper layers are exposed to environmental aggressors. This can break down the protein in your skin responsible for keeping it firm and elastic, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles.
4. Causes Itching And Rashes
If you have sensitive skin, chlorinated water can aggravate its symptoms leading to itching, rashes or inflammation.
5. Causes Overproduction Of Sebum Leading To Break-Outs
A lack of moisture due to a broken barrier can cause your skin to overproduce sebum. Your skin does this to compensate for the lack of essential oils required by it. An overproduction of sebum can cause acne.
9 Tips To Prevent Skin Damage Caused By Chlorinated Water
1. Wet Yourself Before Getting Into The Pool
Irrespective of whether you have taken a shower or not that morning, wet yourself just before getting into a chlorine-treated pool. Wondering why?
Your perfumes, sweat, soaps, shampoos and other cosmetics are organic compounds. These can interact with chlorine-treated water to form harmful by-products and toxic gases. The by-products (chloramines) can be harmful for a swimmer’s skin and body. (2)
2. Cover Your Hair And Eyes
Just like your skin’s protective barrier, your eyes contain a tear-film that keeps them moist and clear. Chlorinated water can rip off this thin film and dry-up your eyes, leading to discomfort and burning. So wear goggles before making a splash into the pool. (3)
Besides your skin and eyes, your hair is also directly exposed to chlorinated water in the pool. This can cause excessive dryness. Thus, putting on a swimming cap would be ideal in order to protect your hair.
3. Add Vitamin C To Your Regimen
4. Wear A Broad-Spectrum Water-Proof Sunscreen
Sun damage while swimming is a common phenomena. You can prevent this by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen as they protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
Make sure your sunscreen is water-resistant so it doesn’t get washed off. Re-apply your sunscreen every two hours.
5. Wash Off The Chlorine & Moisturize Well
Moisturizing your skin is vital, especially if you are a regular swimmer. Take a shower after a swim and moisturize as soon as you pat yourself dry. Use a mild cleanser for your face to maintain your skin’s pH.
6. Use Lip Balm
Spending long hours in chlorine-treated water can contribute to cracked lips. Wear lip balm to prevent them from bleeding after you’re out of the pool.
7. Keep Your Timings In Check
Unless you’re competing for a tournament, limit your time in the pool to an hour. In India, the sun is at its peak between 10 am and 2 pm. Avoid swimming during these hours. A good time to swim is early in the morning between 7 am and 9 am or post 4 pm.
8. Use Oil To Protect Your Skin Barrier
Oil and water don’t get along. Applying a layer of oil before getting into the pool can act as a barrier and prevent chlorinated water from penetrating through your skin.
9. Exfoliate Regularly
Exfoliating your skin once in a fortnight can help remove pigmented dead skin cells. This can reduce the appearance of dark and dull-looking skin.
Chemical exfoliators containing hydroxy acids are a good option if you are a regular swimmer as they work by dissolving dead skin cells. It can be found in natural sources like tomatoes as well. They also increase your cell-turnover ratio and help strengthen your skin barrier. (6)
If you are a regular swimmer, make it a point to follow these tips to prevent your skin from getting dull, dark and dry. Once you have your regimen in place, you’re good to go!
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