Simone Manuel’s historical swimming feat at the Olympics is all the motivation we need to move our workout plan underwater. Watching the 19 year old become the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal reminded us that #BeingABlackGirlIsLit, especially when the world is watching.
The past day has included a wave of images showing Manuel’s big moment, but as beauty lovers, we’re equally excited to see her hair bask in all its textured glory. Contrary to popular belief, natural hair and chlorine can coexist when cared for properly.
Here are seven tips to keep in mind if you want Simone Manuel’s Olympic glow after your next swimming sesh.
Protection is key when exposing your locks to harsh chemicals of any kind. A pre co-wash will bring added moisture to the hair and make it less vulnerable to chlorine damage. Nubian Heritage’s Indian Hemp & Tamanu Co-Wash is infused with bamboo, an ingredient specifically renowned for strengthening strands.
Coat and seal with oil: Natural hair bloggers recommend applying coconut oil or shea butter before jumping in the pool. This helps retain moisture, even after dunking your head underwater. If you anticipate being beachside all day, tuck a small bottle in your bag for touch ups.
When you don’t have co-wash or oils on hand, a quick warm water rinse will prevent some post-swimming breakage. Consider CurlyChic’s sponge theory: if you place a wet sponge in a pool of water, it will only absorb a small quantity of water. The same applies to your hair and chlorine. Avoid jumping into a pool with dry hair when you can.
The most obvious tip for swimming with textured hair is to keep it covered. If caps feel too tight, at least put your locks up in a bun or braids to prevent matting afterwards.
Clarifying shampoo is regular shampoo on steroids. This is what your hair needs to take on (and defeat) the harsh after effects of chlorine exposure. Morrocanoil makes a duo that includes a matching conditioner.
Lastly, avoid heating tools directly after swimming. Your hair needs time to naturally recover from the water and frying it won’t help. If you must, adjust your settings on your iron or blow dryer to the coolest level before using.