It’s like Freddy Krueger has tormented us and prevents us from getting close to any body of water -once we jump in, our hair is going to fall out and we’ll be bald forever! It’s 90 degrees with a 110 degree heat index and we are going to pack up towels and blankets and buy a fly swimsuit…then…SIT BY THE POOL AND DIP OUR FEET IN!!!
What a calamity to not be able to enjoy the summer months, especially living down south, or in warm climates year round. All because of our hair! It is common for a Black Woman to avoid Swimming and Working out because the perspiration and water causes the hair to revert and that is a major problem.
Even women who are going natural still face this demon each day. They want to get in the water and enjoy it without losing the length that their natural hair reveals when wet. The perfectly defined curls and coils weighted down by water, sweeping the shoulders is lovely until it dries and you are in public with everyone looking at you saying “what happened to her?”
Not to fret, that is a part of the experience, and if you understand your hair’s texture and behavior in different settings, you will be prepared for what lies ahead.
Most women are afraid to wet their hair at home, let alone going delving into deep waters for a refreshing lap. This trickles down to our children as well. If they, especially little girls, see Mama hiding under a hut away from the pool, they may do the same. It’s either that or the threatening looks we used to get from Mama when we asked to go down to the city pool!
The swim caps we used to get were so tight and so hot, but we wore them to avoid hair wetting at all costs. Still, our hair would get some moisture , and Mama could live with that. But what grown woman is going to be prancing around the pool with a swim cap on? Not many, but she will rock a swimsuit, sunglasses and big summer hat instead.
Water at Home.
There is one thing to look out for at home, your water’s pH balance. Hard water can be cleaner to drink but bad for your hair. There is an inexpensive way to check your water by purchasing a testing kit for under $10.
All in all, swimming can be a rewarding experience and it’s a great way to exercise. A hair style shouldn’t be a reason why you wouldn’t go swimming. Embrace the freedoms of being natural and having strong, pliable, resilient hair.
If you’re a frequent swimmer, try wearing twists or braids throughout the summer to protect your hair, mainly the ends of the hair. Applying conditioner to the hair and plaiting it or placing it in several large twists will also protect the hair while swimming. Or if you prefer not to use conditioner, good ole olive oil will protect the ends of the hair as well.
For working out, let the sweating begin! The perspiration may cause the hair to swell and get fluffy, but nothing a nice co wash can’t remedy. You don’t have to shampoo your hair everyday if you work out everyday. Cowashing gently cleanses the hair from the salty residue perspiration leaves without stripping the hair of all the oils it needs to maintain a healthy daily sheen. Whatever you wash away needs to be put back in the hair.
Some key items to take with you on your swim outing:
- elastic bands
- a large fabric head band
- a wide tooth comb
- plastic combs
A question often posed is “what will I do to my hair AFTER I swim? In the event that you don’t condition and plait your hair before swimming, you can create a large french braid, or a few cornrows into a small bun. For shorter hair, you can fancy up by placing a cute headband, flower or decorative clips in your hair until you get home. This is great for Family Reunions when you will be in and out of the water all day or if you’re at an amusement park.
Most of all, it is summer time, it’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Don’t let the weather, water, and perspiration deter you from enjoying the fruits of the season!