Can You Swim With Colored Hair? A Complete Guide


Swimming is a fun summertime activity that many people with colored hair love to do. However, spending time in pools, beaches, lakes, and oceans can be damaging to your hair color. Chlorine, saltwater, and sun exposure can all cause your recently dyed tresses to fade quickly.

So can you swim with colored hair? The short answer is yes, you can swim after dyeing your hair. However, there are precautions you must take before and after swimming to prevent your color from fading or changing. Read on to learn everything you need to know about swimming with dyed hair.

How Long Should You Wait Before Swimming After Dyeing Your Hair?

The most important factor in determining when you can swim after coloring your hair is the type of dye you used.

Permanent Hair Dye

With permanent hair dye, you should wait at least one week before swimming. Permanent dye contains harsh chemicals like ammonia and peroxide that penetrate the hair shaft and permanently alter your natural pigment.

These chemicals need sufficient time to fully oxidize and set in your hair. If you don’t wait long enough, the chemicals could still be processing when they interact with pool chlorine and cause unexpected results.

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

For demi-permanent hair dye, wait 3 to 5 days before swimming. Demi-permanent formulas contain less ammonia and peroxide than permanent dyes, so they set faster. But still avoid swimming for a few days.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

With semi-permanent hair dye, you only need to wait 72 hours or 3 days before going swimming. Semi-permanent dye coats the outside of hair strands and doesn’t use peroxide to open the cuticle.

Since it sets quickly on the surface of your hair, it’s safer to swim after 3 days. However, taking a few extra precautions can allow you to swim even sooner.

What Happens If You Swim Right After Dyeing Your Hair?

Swimming too soon after coloring your hair can cause a few undesirable issues. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Color fading – The chlorine and saltwater act as stripping agents that cause the dye to fade quickly.

  • Unexpected color changes – Chemical reactions between the dye, developer, and chlorine can turn your hair green, purple, orange, or another undesired shade.

  • Dry, brittle hair – Chlorine is very drying for hair, causing it to become brittle and prone to breakage.

  • Hair loss – Damage from chlorine and sunlight can weaken hair strands, causing excess shedding and hair loss.

Tips for Protecting Dyed Hair When Swimming

While you can swim after dyeing your hair, you need to take measures to protect your color. Here are some tips:

Wear a Swim Cap

A swim cap creates a physical barrier between your hair and the water. It prevents chlorine and saltwater from penetrating your strands and causing damage. Select a tight-fitting silicone or latex cap.

Wet Hair Before Swimming

Saturate your dry hair with regular tap water before swimming. This prevents it from soaking up as much chlorinated water when you get in the pool.

Apply a Protective Layer

Coat your hair in an oil or leave-in conditioner before swimming. This helps repel water and prevents chlorine and salt from being absorbed. Argan oil, coconut oil, and olive oil all work well.

Rinse Hair After Swimming

Rinse your hair with fresh water as soon as you get out of the pool or ocean. This removes any chlorine or salt that may be lingering on your strands before it has time to damage your color.

Limit Sun Exposure

At outdoor pools and beaches, sunlight can fade your color. Keep hair covered with a hat or wrap when not in the water. Hair sunscreen is also an option.

Avoid Putting Head Underwater

Try not to fully submerge your head underwater. Keep hair up in a bun or braid so that only your ends get wet when swimming.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

Wash hair with a clarifying shampoo after swimming to remove chlorine and salt deposits that can dry out your strands. Avoid regular shampoo.

Get a Touch-Up

If your color does start to fade significantly after swimming, go back to the salon for a quick touch-up to refresh your color.

Swimming With Different Hair Coloring Techniques

Certain hair coloring techniques require extra precautions when swimming. Here’s a breakdown:

Highlights and Balayage

With highlighted or balayage hair, avoid submerging your full head by wearing a swim cap, braiding hair, or keeping it in a bun. Limit sun exposure which fades lighter pieces faster.

Bleached Hair

Bleached blonde hair is very prone to damage from chlorine and sun. Always wear a swim cap and limit total time spent in water. Rinse hair immediately after swimming.

Fashion Colors

Bright fashion colors like pink, purple, blue, and green are more susceptible to fading in water. Limit water exposure time. Dye fades the fastest in the first few weeks after coloring.

Permanent Black Hair Dye

Black semi-permanent and demi-permanent dyes can bleed or rub off in water. Permanent dye is less likely to run. However, permanent black dye may fade to a greenish tint over time with frequent swimming.

Root Touch-Up

When swimming after a root touch-up, wear a swim cap to protect vulnerable new growth and keep that section out of the water.

At-Home vs Salon Hair Color

Is professionally applied salon hair color safer for swimming vs at-home box dye? The answer is yes – salon dye is generally better quality with a more precise application. However, at-home dyes can work fine for swimming if you follow all the tips above.

Swimming in Saltwater vs Chlorine Pools

Many people believe that saltwater is gentler than chlorinated pools. However, saltwater can still cause significant fading and damage to dyed hair. Take the same precautions swimming in oceans, lakes, and saltwater pools as you would with regular chlorinated water.

How to Prevent Green Hair from Swimming

Green hair is a common result of swimming with dyed blonde or lightened hair. Here’s how it happens:

  • Pool water contains dissolved trace metals like copper, iron, and manganese.

  • When these metals interact with chlorine, they oxidize and bind to hair strands.

  • This causes greenish coloring, especially on light hair.

To prevent green hair, use a chelating shampoo after swimming to remove metals. Also, wet hair before entering the pool and wear a swim cap. Limit total pool time.

Swimming After Keratin Treatment

Keratin treatments make hair prone to absorbing more chlorine and moisture. Wait 5-7 days after a keratin treatment before swimming. Always wear a tight cap when in the water. Limit sun and pool time to preserve the smooth keratin results.

How Often Can You Swim With Dyed Hair?

There’s no set limit on how often you can swim with colored hair. However, the more frequently you swim, the quicker your color will fade. To maintain vivid color, limit swimming to 1-2 times per week max. Always take protective measures before and after swimming.

When to Avoid Swimming After Coloring Hair

You should avoid swimming under these circumstances:

  • Right after an initial dye job – Wait the recommended time first
  • If color is already noticeably fading – The water will make it worse
  • If hair is damaged from prior swimming – Prevent more damage
  • If experiencing hair loss or breakage
  • If hair is brittle and dry from chlorine damage

Quick Tips for Swimming With Dyed Hair

  • Always wet hair before swimming
  • Wear a tight swim cap
  • Rinse out chlorine immediately after swimming
  • Limit total time head is submerged underwater
  • Reduce sun exposure by keeping hair covered when outside of water

Easiest Way to Protect Your Dyed Hair From Chlorine (No More Fading!)


Will swimming ruin my hair dye?

Hair dye often leads to damage like dryness, breakage, and frizz. The harsh chlorine from pools and hot tubs worsens this, fading your hair color and harming already-weak strands.

Does chlorine ruin colored hair?

If you have colored hair chlorine will bond with the artificial color and draw it out quickly. What’s more, when chlorine bonds with copper, it creates a chemical compound that is known for its bright, blue-green color, which can ultimately cause your hair to turn pale green.

How do I protect my dyed hair while swimming?

Treat your hair with specialized products on the front end to prevent damage. Try a chlorine-fighting product that will protect hair from harsh pool chemicals. Coconut oil will also preserve hair’s health while swimming. Spread it generously throughout your hair before jumping in.

Can I go swimming with dyed red hair?

However, this chlorine can be damaging for hair. And freshly dyed hair is very likely to absorb a lot of chlorine water in the pool as your hair’s cuticles are open after dyeing. It doesn’t matter if you have dyed your hair red, green or blue, don’t go swimming right after.

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