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Is Saltwater Good For Your Hair? What Are The Benefits?

Is Saltwater Good For Your Hair? What Are The Benefits?

William Brown

William Brown


William is a professional hair stylist with over 10 years of experience. He is passionate about creating personalized, trendy looks for his clients and specializes in hair treatments and updos. He is now a certified hair adviser for Mic Hair Company. His articles are always filled with advice, pro tips, and latest hair research results.

Fashion Blog

Wed Sep 15 2021

Do you want to swim in the ocean? Before you decide to take a dip in the ocean, find out is saltwater good for your hair. This guide will inform you of the benefits and drawbacks of saltwater for the hair. You will also learn the precautions which need to be taken to protect the hair from damage.

What is Saltwater Composed of?

The term saltwater refers to any type of water that contains dissolved salts including seawater, saline lake water, or artificial saltwater. If the saltwater comes from nature, it may contain a small amount of salt (about 3.5%) and a quite little amount of other substances (Chloride, Sulfate, Magnesium,..).

Your skin and hair will benefit from those substances, but you have to consider the potential side effects.

Can Saltwater Damage Your Hair?

As I said, saltwater can damage your hair. It makes your hair become dry and brittle. You can feel that after swimming in a saltwater pool or in the sea. In some cases, saltwater also causes scalp irritation which makes your scalp turn red and feel itchy. The colored hair can fade out after being exposed to saltwater for a long time.

If you want to enjoy your swim without damaging your hair, don’t skip any section!

Potential Damage of Saltwater

Although ocean water has some benefits for the hair, it can also cause damage if your hair is exposed to it for a long time. Let’s first look at why salt water is bad for hair and loses its flexibility over time.

1. Ocean Water Dries Out Hair

Does Saltwater Damage Hair?

After swimming in salty water, the skin and hair start losing their natural moisture. The water present in our hair makes it flexible and elastic. Salt crystals are known to draw out the moisture inside natural hair strands.

Since the ocean has a high salt concentration, the hair becomes dehydrated, tangled, and more prone to breakage. Thus, after swimming in the ocean, you must notice how difficult it becomes to comb the tangled hair.

>>> Read more: Best Methods To Prevent And Get Rid Of Split Ends <<<

2. Seawater Damages Dyed Hair

Dyed or bleached hair usually lacks moisture due to the use of chemicals. When you swim for a long time in the ocean with dyed hair, the condition of the hair can become worse and the color of the hair will fade. The higher pH of the saltwater environment will strip the color from the hair shaft, potentially causing your blonde hair to turn yellowish after swimming.  Your hair might become prone to split ends and breakage.

The hair, which is chemically treated, will need more care and maintenance before and after swimming in the salty water. You should carry hair products for ocean water on your list of beach accessories to ensure it remains healthy and hydrated at all times.

>>> Read more: How To Repair Severely Chemically Damaged Hair? <<<

3. Potential Irritation

If your skin is already sensitive, you may face scalp irritation when swimming in seawater. As I mentioned, the seawater pH is higher than normal and it contains a number of substances that can affect the sensitive skin. The sensitive skin may turn red and start to itch after swimming in salty water, especially in the sea that is polluted. Moreover, the excess hair care product on your hair can act with the substances in saltwater and lead to chemical reactions. In some case, it can lead to hair loss. So, make sure to rinse your hair before swimming in salty water.

Benefits Of Saltwater For Hair

Is saltwater good for your hair? There are various benefits of swimming in the ocean for the hair. It can fix not only dandruff issues but also shampoo buildup. Let’s discuss the benefits of seawater for hair.

1. Removes Excess Oil And Sebum

People who have greasy hair must try swimming in the ocean. The saltwater can absorb the excess oil from the scalp. Most people are unable to wash the leftover shampoo and conditioner completely.

When you wash the hair with saltwater, it can effectively remove any leftovers of these products. Thus, you will have lighter and smoother hair after swimming in ocean water.

2. Exfoliates The Scalp

When you massage the scalp with salt crystals, it works as a natural Exfoliator. The saltwater not only makes the hair thicker but also boosts its growth. It opens the pores, which were blocked due to dirt and oil.

Moreover, mineral-rich sand particles will remove the buildup of products from the scalp. Thus, after people swim, their hair looks shinier and thicker. The ocean water also stimulates blood flow and allows the proper growth of hair.

Benefits Of Saltwater For Hair

3. Provides Nutrients To The Hair

Nutrients and vitamins are present in seawater in high quantities. These minerals get absorbed into the skin and scalp when you swim in ocean water. Seawater includes magnesium, which helps calm the nerves. Potassium and selenium found in ocean water promote hair growth.

Rinsing your hair with salt water also reduces the level of harmful elements like mercury, promoting a healthier hair environment overall.

4. Minimizes Fungal Dandruff

Most people suffer from hair problems like dandruff. The fungus is the main reason behind dandruff-related issues. Salty water can effectively treat dandruff by reducing the fungus on the scalp.

As we already know, the salt crystals present in the ocean soak up water from the scalp. Thus, the fungi are forced to achieve osmosis. Generally, this results in the slow development of fungus. Your hair becomes healthier without dandruff.

5. Stimulates Hair Growth And Boosts Volume

Since salt water acts as a natural exfoliant, massaging it into the scalp is believed by some to increase blood flow and circulation. This promotes more oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicle, which may encourage faster hair growth and fuller-looking strands.

When you soak your hair in salt water, the salt swells the hair shaft and cuticle, making your hair appear more voluminous and textured. Too much swelling can create excess tangles, but just the right amount gives you an effortless beachy look.

Should You Wash Your Hair After Swimming In Seawater?

You all must have wondered after swimming in the ocean if saltwater was good for your hair. When you swim in seawater, your hair needs to be washed immediately because it can damage irreversible hair.

If you don’t wash the hair after prolonged exposure to ocean water, sodium chloride builds up in the hair and absorbs all the moisture. You should use fresh water to ensure that all the sand particles are removed from the scalp.

Use shampoo to remove the debris and dirt that usually get stuck in your hair when you swim in the ocean. If you thoroughly clean the hair, there will be less chance of hair damage.

How To Prevent Damage From Salt Water

1. Avoid Swimming With Dyed Hair

We have already told you that ocean water can severely damage dyed and bleached hair. Treated hair lacks the nutrients that can protect and keep it moisturized. Moreover, dyed hair starts to fade due to the reaction caused by saltwater. You should avoid going to the beach after bleaching your hair.

2. Massage The Hair With Oil

You are surely aware now that saltwater is good for your hair. If you want to swim, apply coconut oil to your hair so that it stays moisturized. Use enough oil to coat your entire head, then wait 10 minutes before entering the water. The oil will also protect the hair from any damage that can be caused by saltwater. Moreover, when you apply oil to the hair, it makes it flexible and soft due to its minerals.

How To Prevent Damage From Salt Water

>> Read more: Top 10 hot oils for weak hair <<

3. Use Hair Care Products

You must apply hair cream before exposing it to ocean water. Ensure the hair cream contains SPF to protect the hair from UV rays.

Use a natural shampoo to wash the hair thoroughly after a day by the beach, and then deeply condition it with a nourishing treatment. Rinse with cold water to further protect the hair shaft and leave it looking shiny. A leave-in conditioner will also help with hydration.

4. Wash The Hair With Fresh Water

After swimming in the ocean, one must immediately wash their hair with fresh water. Salt crystals can remain in your hair if you don’t rinse them out thoroughly, drying out your strands and damaging the cuticle. To prevent this from happening, rinse your hair with clean, fresh water as soon as you leave the beach, and wash your hair with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to restore moisture.

5. Wearing a Swim Cap

The best solution to reduce the damage of saltwater is to avoid your hair from direct exposure to the saltwater. A latex swim cap will work very effectively. It sounds very simple but many people don’t want to use this protection due to its uncomfort. The swim cap will form a physical barrier, keeping your hair relatively protected from the salt and reducing damage.


Since you know that saltwater is good for your hair, visit the ocean and reap the benefits. However, you must keep in mind the precautions. Apply oil and hair cream before diving into the seawater. Moreover, after swimming in the ocean, one should wash their hair immediately with freshwater.



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