Chlorine in the swimming pool: Is Chlorine bad for your skin?

Do you love swimming? If you're someone who hits the pool frequently, perhaps even daily, you're no stranger to long hours swimming in chlorinated water. But have you ever stopped asking yourself what chlorine can do to your skin?

Don't worry, the regular chlorine level in the pool water is harmless to our health. However, it might dry out your skin after a swim.

Here are three quick key facts about swimming pools and chlorine you should know:

  • Chlorine is added to swimming pool water as a disinfectant.
  • The swimming pool chlorine concentration should by law always be between 0.3 and 0.6 milligrams per liter.
  • Chlorine can sometimes cause mild skin irritation and dryness, however, proper skincare before and after the swim can easily counteract these effects.

Keep reading to discover in depth everything you need to know about chlorinated water in swimming pools and how to properly care for your skin before and after swimming, ensuring a worry-free experience in water sports!

The reason for dry skin after swimming

Ever experienced that dry, tight feeling in your skin after a swim? It might seem strange, but it's a real thing: swimming can actually dry out your skin. Here’s why: when you hop into the pool, the water starts pulling moisture out of your skin. This happens due to the different pH levels in your skin compared to the water.

Let’s break it down. Our skin is slightly acidic, usually hovering around a pH of 5.5. This acidity is a natural barrier against bacteria and viruses. But pool water? That’s typically neutral, with a pH of about 7. When your skin and the pool water meet, something called diffusion kicks in – it's a biological process where molecules move to balance out these differing pH levels. The result? Your skin ends up handing over its moisture to the water.

So, what does this mean for you as a swimmer? Simply put, the longer you stay in the water, the more moisture your skin loses, leaving it feeling drier the more time you spend swimming.

Is chlorine bad for you?

What does chlorine do in a pool? Chlorine is a highly effective disinfectant commonly used to kill germs in swimming pool water. This is especially crucial in busy pools, ensuring protection from various germs. Consequently, swimming during pregnancy is generally safe, thanks to the germ-killing properties of chlorine.

Chlorine in its pure form is a gas that's both odorless and highly reactive, making it toxic. However, when it's properly diluted with water, it becomes a much less reactive substance that's a powerful disinfectant. The amount of chlorine that should or can be added to water is regulated by law: The ideal chlorine level for pools ranges from 0.3 to 0.6 milligrams per liter of water, though this concentration can be temporarily boosted to as much as 1.2 milligrams to combat higher levels of germs. You might wonder now, when does chlorine in a pool actually become harmful? There's no need to worry; it is only considered potentially harmful when its concentration reaches about 18%. 

So to answer the question: Is pool chlorine bad for you? No, it is not. There have not been any long term effects of chlorine on swimmers confirmed. But when it comes to chlorine on your skin, it is recommended to shower after swimming as it can penetrate the skin and cause irritation, leading to dryness, more common in pools with high chlorine levels. Still, the benefits of using chlorine in swimming pool water far outweigh the downsides. Consider the fact that many people pee in the pool (although they swear they don’t :) ) or don't shower before entering – the risk of infection would be significantly higher without proper disinfection.

→ Check out our chlorine-resistant swimwear featuring Forever fabric technology in our online store. Fun fact: Even the thread we use is resistant to chlorine! :) 

Woman with black bikini swimming in the pool

Proper skin care before and after a swim

How can you protect yourself from chlorine skin damage when going regularly for a swim? Let's dive into some essential pre-and post-swimming skin care tips.

Before you hit the pool in the morning: Prep your skin to face the harshness of chlorinated water. Put on a hydrating moisturizer – this is your first line of defense. It replenishes the moisture your skin is bound to lose during your swim. This step is crucial, especially if you're planning to go swimming to build muscles. By keeping your skin hydrated, you're all set for a long and fruitful session in the water.

Before you dive into the pool: Skip the pH-neutral shower gels before swimming; they can actually irritate your skin. A quick, warm shower is all it takes. Even better, opt for shower gels with a pH of 5.5, matching your skin's natural pH, to reinforce its protective barrier.

After your swim: Make sure to rinse off thoroughly with warm water to remove any lingering chlorine. There's no need to go overboard with shower gel - warm water will usually do the trick. If you prefer using a shower gel, choose a gentle one with a pH of 5.5 or a hydrating shower oil. To top it off, unlike before your swim, use a cream based on oils. Put it all over your body to really pamper your skin!

A quick tip: After enjoying the pool, don't forget to take care of your swimwear to maintain its color and quality. Check out our blog for all the tips you need on washing bikinis in order to keep them in top shape.

Pay attention in case you are allergic to chlorine!

If you have a genuine chlorine allergy, your best bet is to see a dermatologist, because a chlorine allergy and skin are not friends! 

If you come out of the water and:

  • your skin is extremely itchy, reddened or even shows wheals or blisters
  • you are coughing after swimming in chlorine pool

then you should urgently have yourself checked by a professional. Swimming despite a chlorine allergy is not recommended. The same applies for swimming in a chlorine pool with an open wound. 

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