Even if you keep yours short, a day of swimming can wreak havoc on your hair. Yes, swimming under a scorching sun feels refreshing, but it's actually quite dehydrating (for your hair and skin). Chlorine found in pools and salt from the ocean both strip the hair of its natural oils, stress the scalp and cause all-around dryness. (Sometimes, chlorine can turn lighter hair colors — say blondes or grays — green. I've had it happen to me, a blonde. It's weird.)
The best swimmer shampoos work to remove chlorine and salt and rehydrate the hair and scalp. Plus, they'll extinguish chlorine's strange scent. But how do you find one that will work? There are plenty of professions — lifeguards, swim instructors, deep sea divers, dolphin trainers, you get the gist — wherein one's exposed to water for a prolonged period of time. Swimming as a sport proves ultra-popular, too. And everyone loves lounging near a body of water — no matter whether it's in your backyard or by the coast. So, are there swimmer-specific shampoos?
Yes. Some of the entries on this list are swimmer-focused offerings, meaning they are, by design, capable of cleansing the hair and scalp of the chemical compounds causing dryness. They also scrub the resides left behind, leaving the hair soft and restored. But, more broadly, clarifying shampoos work, too. They're an impactful type of shampoo intended for purification. Simply put, they're capable of — kind of like degreaser dish soaps — doing some deep cleaning: aka cutting through hair styling products, excess grease and other build-up. Typically, you turn to clarifying shampoos in extreme cases. Or, once a week, in tandem with exfoliating your skin. (You shouldn't do either too often.)
However, busting out the big guns after a day at the pool or on the beach makes perfect sense. They'll stop the chemicals or crust before they do any serious damage, and get whatever else is stuck up there along the way. These are the best swimmer/chlorine removal/post-pool shampoos you can find. (What you call them is up to you.)
Best Overall Swimmer Shampoo: Aveda Sun Care Hair and Body Cleanser
Aveda's ultra-popular hair and body cleanser uses a corn-derived cleanser, tamanu, sunflower and organic coconut oil, green tea and vitamin E to remove salt, minerals and chlorine from your hair and skin and simultaneously restore moisture and strength. Instructions are the same as any other shampoo: lather into wet hair and then rinse it out.
Best Upgrade Swimmer Shampoo: Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three
Paul Mitchell's Shampoo Three is a citrusy formula designed for removing chlorine, iron and other minerals and reversing color change caused by chlorine. Deep conditioning is recommended after use.
Best Affordable Swimmer Shampoo: UltraSwim Dynamic Duo Repair Shampoo and Conditioner Two-Pack
UltraSwim is one of the most trusted post-pool shampoos on the market. Trusted by professional and amateur swimmers and seemingly everyone in-between, there's no going wrong here. Plus, this pack comes with both shampoo and conditioner.
Sun Bum Revitalizing Shampoo
Yes, Sun Bum makes sunscreen — a ton of them, actually — but the company also produces post-sun products like lip balm, sunburn relief and... revitalizing shampoo. It's moisturizing and generally well-reviewed.
Exershield 2-in-1 Chlorine Body Wash and Shampoo
This is a hyper-focused shampoo you should only use when you need to strip your hair or skin of chlorine or salt. But don't fret if it's your backup. Natural ingredients are emphasized over sulfates and other synthetics.
Every Man Jack 2-in-1 Swim + Surf Shampoo and Conditioner
This is the emergency pick. Yeah, there are probably (maybe?) chlorine stripping shampoos at your local pharmacy, but Every Man Jack is in most big box stores (Target, for sure). Give it an order now in preparation for your next swim and see if you like it. The 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner formula proves cruelty free and relies on natural ingredients like amino acids from quinoa and peppermint and jojoba their cleansing and restorative properties.
Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Shampoo
Malibu C's Swimmers Wellness shampoo, as the name implies, caters specifically to the aquatics-inclined individual. This iteration addresses both chlorine and copper, and uses antioxidants to restore damage done by them.
Zealios Swim and Sport Shampoo
Dipping in the pool purely for laps? Try Zealios' Swim and Sport shampoo. Sweat, salt and chlorine are the focus here, and the formula is super gentle, rendering it safe for daily use and color treated hair.
ThinkSport Chlorine Remover Shampoo and Body Wash
ThinkSport's natural 2-in-1 solution uses aloe and tea leaves to treat damage done by chemicals and particulate. The messaging seems targeted toward kids — or at least parents purchasing it for them — but it's all-ages.
Newton Bay Swimmer's Shampoo
Gentle yet effective, Newton Bay's bottled Swimmer's Shampoo uses peppermint and chamomile to naturally extract chemical agents and physical debris from your hair. The company also makes a swim conditioner, which they suggest using in tandem with the shampoo.