How to Keep Chlorine From Wrecking Your Hair, Skin and Swimsuit

Pamper Your Skin

If you stay in the pool for too long, you'll get dry, chalky skin, and sometimes a red, itchy rash. The culprit again, is chlorine, which strips away the surface layer of oil that usually locks the moisture into your skin.

You can't do much about it in the water, but once you exit the pool, go straight to the shower, take off your suit and flush the chemicals out of your skin with plenty of soap and water. If you have sensitive skin or the pool happens to be highly chlorinated, you might want to use a specialty body wash ($11) and lotion ($11) from Triswim. They work together to neutralize chlorine, remove odors and add moisture to the skin.

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Keep Your Eyes Healthy, Too

Contact lenses can absorb water like a sponge, just like your hair. This is bad news since prolonged exposure to chlorine can irritate the surface of your corneas, causing red, itchy eyes. If you're like me and need corrective lenses to see six inches in front of your face, you'll need to toss your contact lenses as soon as you exit the pool. I'm finding it to be cost-effective to stock up on daily contacts that I can use just for swimming, while using monthlies for everything else.

Another option is to purchase prescription swim goggles. You may not know this, but they are surprisingly affordable. Prices range from $20 to $60, depending on the brand. You can get them from Speedo or TYR, but I like Aquagoggles because they make it easy to customize the prescription for each eye.

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Take Care of Your Swimwear

Frequent swimmers know that chlorine can damage not only your skin and hair, but also your swimsuit. In time, the fabric will shred, the color will fade, and the elastic will break down. It can also turn your white suit yellow.

The next time you shop for a new swimsuit, it's a good idea to check the tag to see if it is chlorine- and fade-resistant. A high spandex content is a plus, since it will help your suit keep its shape. You can also check for a satisfaction guarantee. Lands' End has this policy, and it covers all of its swimwear.

Here's a final tip. Adding a few tablespoons full of vinegar to your wash will help neutralize chlorine, eliminate the smell, and even stop discoloration. If you're willing to splurge, you can buy a specialty detergent like Summer Solutions Suit Solutions ($8). A little goes a long way. I like to pour two small capfuls into a gallon-size ziplock bag with an expandable bottom, and bring it with me to the pool.

When I'm done swimming, I'll pop my suit into the ziploc, fill it with water and swish it around a couple of times. Since it has a wide bottom, I can let the bag sit while I shower and get dressed. Then I'll empty out the water and rinse out the suit before I take it home. It's an extra step that I have to add to my routine, but it saves me from having to walk home with a tote full of wet swim gear that reeks of chlorine.

* Note: I received samples from Triswim and SwimSpray to review for this post

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