My child's hair became damaged by swimming in a chemically treated pool. What should I do?

Q: I am writing about my 10 year old daughter's hair.

It's been such a pain to brush her hair, it's all tangled up, and my mother keeps using junk on her hair, so I'm really trying to fix her hair problem.

This summer, we spent some time at a public pool (I know, GASP haha). Well, her hair was really damaged from the chemicals in the pool, and her hair never has seemed to recover (and our last visit was in September and it's now March).

She was getting her hair cut recently, and we found out that she has damaged, fine, hair. Her hair felt filmy, like built up residue was just never getting rinsed off. They suggested using a "clarifier" (a couple times a week) on her hair, maybe something with a little tea tree oil in it (though I haven't really researched this avenue, yet, I figured I'd come to you, first). I tried using Shea butter as a detangler, but it left her hair kind of stringy and oily looking (maybe I used too much?)

I went back to your website, and saw the blog on hair. I did the fragrance- free wash gentle gel wash with a vinegar rinse (as detailed in Step 5 of the Hair Wash Instructions). The results were immediate and AMAZING! So much easier to brush, and it seemed to leave her hair a little shiny. Well, my question is this: how often should I use the fragrance-free gel wash and vinegar rinse? Should I use it every day? Or a couple of times a week? Should I use any mud on her hair? If so, which "flavor?"

Also, when I use the gentle gel bath wash on her hair, do I want that to "lather" up? or just kind of massage it through?

Thank you for any advice or information you can give me.


Thank you for your kind words!

Regarding your questions, many people have used our Gentle Gel and the vinegar rinse as their daily hair cleansing routine for years. You can certainly feel free to use it as frequently as needed. You can also try our Cool Mint Body Wash in place of the Gentle Gel in the hair washing process as, unlike the Gentle Gel which is super-fatted with organic jojoba oil, the Cool Mint has no added super-fatted oil. Some folks with fine and/or straight hair prefer having no added extra oil in their Hair Wash. You could even alternate between the Gentle Gel and the Cool Mint washes. FYI, the Gentle Gel doesn't really have much in the way of foaming capability as it contains no coconut oil – it is a traditional
true castile. Coconut and/or palm oils are the oils that can give a castile soap a sudsing effect, though it is important to note that this sudsing effect has no relation to how a real soap product cleanses. Our
Gentle Gel castile is primarily made from organic extra virgin olive oil and olive oils do not support much foaming. However, even without high lather the olive oil castile is very gentle and effective, and is an excellent cleansing choice for those with infantile, or sensitive, or dry or mature skin.

You can also certainly play with the Hair Wash! For fine, straight or thinner hair, our Fragrance-free or our Cool Mint Hair Wash formulas are the best options.

Unfortunately, pool chemicals and conventional shampoo chemicals can, as you've seen, permanently damage the hair cuticle making the hair very susceptible to splitting, breakage and tangling. Folks with fine hair don't often do well when conditioning with oils and butters unless just the tiniest amount is used. So, literally, use perhaps just one drop or two of an organic oil or butter rubbed between the palms of the hands and massaged or combed through the hair to help smooth splitting, damaged hair.

Truly though, the best remedy for people with finer, straighter and/or thinner hair (and everyone else, really!) to maintain healthy-looking hair is to stay away from chemical hair products (yes, there ain't
nothing natural about "all-natural" shampoos) including shampoos, hair bleaches and dyes, perms, etc.

Oh, and try to avoid swimming in pools treated with chemicals. (There are some pools out there that use salt and/or UV light to keep the water from being overrun with bacteria instead of using the conventional toxic pool chemicals.) To protect one's body and hair from toxic chemicals attacking the hair and skin and to help to prevent some chemicals from penetrating the body, we have often suggested the following:

1. Wear a bathing cap when swimming – there are some natural rubber ones out there.

2. Apply some of our Moisture Cream or, for even more protection, try a touch of our Cocoa Butter Body Creme (which contains organic beeswax and no added fragrance!) to the hair before swimming to help repel the water laced with chemicals. After swimming, to remove any chemical residues and excess Moisture Cream or Body Creme, cleanse the hair (and body) using one of our yummy Body Washes and vinegar rinse method, then repeat the process and/or use the Pure Earth Hair Wash as the second or third cleansing step.

3. Apply our Cocoa Butter Body Creme with organic beeswax to the face and body – all over as a gentle preventative/protective barrier – before swimming to help repel the water laced with chemicals. This has the added benefit of being moisturizing for the skin.