When you think of your ideal summer day we’re sure that lounging around the pool springs to mind. While spending time in the pool is a lovely way to cool off and relax, most pools are full of chlorine - and chlorine is a harsh chemical that can affect your skin. So, how do you protect your skin from chlorine this summer? Let’s investigate!
Chlorine is essential for keeping swimming pools safe from bacteria and the amount of chlorine that is often used in swimming pools isn’t usually harmful - however, it can definitely have some effects on our skin due to its drying behaviours. Most pools actually need to have their pH levels checked twice a day to ensure they’re a safe environment for our skin, but some pools, however, aren’t even checked once per day! This is why you need to ensure you’re taking the necessary safety measures to ensure your skin stays protected this summer.
What’s the deal with chlorine reactions?
There are a few ways your skin may react when it comes to chlorine, whether it’s dry, irritated, or itchy, these are all responses to overexposure to chlorine and it may be time to sit on the pool edge for a little bit.
If you’re experiencing itchy skin after swimming around in a chlorine-filled pool, this can actually sometimes be ‘irritant dermatitis’, otherwise known as a chemical burn. Don’t stress though bestie, it’s not as scary as it sounds. This is often caused by hypersensitivity to the skin's irritant. Also, because chlorine is so drying, it can also irritate dermatitis that you may already be experiencing.
Your skin holds natural oils that assist with its natural hydration levels, as well as keeping its smooth texture. What chlorine does is remove these natural oils, leaving the skin feeling stripped and dry. You know that squeaky clean, rubbery feeling you experience after drying off? That’s because the skin has been cleared of all its natural oils. Not ideal.
Much like the itchy side effect you may experience from chlorine, irritated skin can be ‘irritant dermatitis’, which is also completely normal and nothing to worry about (although the name sounds much worse than it is). With proper aftercare and precautionary measures in the future, you will have nothing to worry about, bestie!
What does chlorine actually do to the skin?
Chlorine is added to water to kill germs. This strong chemical kills the bacteria that is often found in pool water within minutes of people jumping in. The chlorine breaks down all of the gross dirt such as bodily fluids and sweat that's left over from swimmers’ bodies.
Essentially, chlorine majorly dries your skin out - it strips away essential oils plus opens the skin's pores. Extensive or prolonged exposure to this kind of chemical can lead to rashes. If the chlorine is highly concentrated enough, it could even cause your skin to blister due to its drying effects. If you experience skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis, jumping into a chlorine-filled pool could really irritate your skin on the affected areas, so it’s worth keeping an eye on any pre-existing conditions you have and tracking whether chlorine seems to make them work.
How do I protect my skin from chlorine?
Here are a few tips that may save your skin from being stripped of its wonderful natural oils:
Shower before and after you swim
Before hopping in the pool, cool off with a shower first. If your skin is dry initially, it will absorb the chlorinated water quicker and it will reach deeper layers of your skin, causing more damage. A quick shower before jumping in will dampen the skin, preventing a lot of the chlorine from being absorbed. It’s also a great idea to shower post-swim as well to try and reduce the amount of chlorine that's left on your skin afterwards.
Apply lotion to your skin
Applying a layer of lotion, whether this is a moisturiser or SPF (or a moisturising SPF!) will create a barrier between your skin and the water, giving it some protection. AND, tbh (pun intended), if we're being honest, applying an SPF to your skin is probably the most ideal option, as these days most SPF lotions are waterproof so it will be much more long-lasting.
Water, water, water, and your skin will thank you. Dehydrated skin is more likely to feel tight and textured, so keeping on top of your water intake will keep your skin plump and soft. Sipping on some water while you’re in the pool will help replenish some of the hydration your skin may be losing with exposure to chlorine, and it will also help to flush out any toxins the skin might have absorbed.
To read more about why water intake is so important, read here.
Apply lip balm
Dry lips are seriously uncomfortable and something you definitely want to avoid. Your lips are quite sensitive and are one of the first places that will experience dryness. Before diving into the pool, we suggest applying a moisturising lip balm and making sure to reapply it throughout the day for maximum protection.
Towel off gently
Towels often have quite an abrasive texture. Make sure to lightly dry your skin using either a dabbing or patting motion rather than rubbing once you have finished swimming in the pool.
How do you get chlorine off your skin?
We can’t do much to avoid chlorine in the water, so it’s important to know exactly what to do after getting out of the pool. Head straight to the shower and wash your face and body to get rid of any lingering chemicals that may still be hanging around. Make sure to use plenty of soap all over your body, and for your face, we’d suggest a double cleanser with your anti-bacterial cleanser. After showering, apply a generous layer of moisturiser to your whole body - and for that gorgeous face of yours follow the steps below.
As previously mentioned, the tbh anti-bacterial cleanser is going to ensure all the chemicals and bacteria are cleansed off your skin, leaving it chlorine-free and ready for the rest of your routine.
The fun part of any skincare routine. This is going to inject your skin with so much additional moisture and really give it the best opportunity to say bye-bye to any irritation the chlorine may have caused. Our rebound serum is unmatched when it comes to repairing the skin's barrier. It hydrates and smooths the skin's texture, and rebound incorporates key ingredients included at the right concentration all in one serum, so you don't have to buy five different bottles to replenish your barrier support needs.
As we said before, one of the biggest issues chlorine may cause is drying out your skin. Therefore moisturising is going to be extremely important after spending time in the pool. The thirst trap moisturiser is an amazing, lightweight option that's great for summer as it’s not too heavy but still packs in a whole lot of moisture. As an added bonus, it actually slows the rate of water loss from the skin!
If you're heading back out into the sun, you're definitely going to want to apply a layer of SPF - because honestly, what would be the point in looking after your skin if you weren’t going to protect it from the sun? If you’re worried about chlorine causing damage to your skin, the sun is 10x worse! Do yourself a favour and invest in tbh skin shady SPF50+. Not only is it free from a white cast, but it also sits super well under your makeup and acts like a primer.. It also nourishes and moisturises your skin with glycerin and Vitamin E, so it's perfect for dehydrated skin.
Does chlorine clear skin?
This question is actually quite an interesting one. The short answer is no, chlorine is not a treatment for acne and shouldn’t be used as one. The interesting layer to this is due to the anti-bacterial properties found in chlorine. If your acne is triggered by bacteria when the skin becomes exposed to this kind of chemical it can have the same effect on your face as it does on the bacteria living in the swimming pool and kill them. However, this is only going to provide short-term relief and can actually cause more harm than good in the long run because as mentioned before, chlorine can cause some real irritation and dryness... This means you may be thinking that after a day spent in the pool, your skin has started to clear up but, using chlorine as a treatment for acne is not going to provide any real long-term benefits.
While chlorine can cause damage to your skin, the key takeaway here is that there’s no need to avoid the swimming pool completely this summer out of chlorine fear, bestie! If you follow the steps above and take precautions when necessary, you should have no dramas and your skin will still thrive - just as long as you keep applying that SPF as well *wink wink, nudge nudge*.