5 Things To Know When Swimming With Hair Extensions: Fresh & Salt Water

If you are a fan of both beauty and the beach, you’re probably wondering what precautions you need to take when swimming with your hair extensions in freshwater, and ocean saltwater—here’s what I found.

Many women feel that they need to stop swimming altogether once they get a set of hair extensions installed. This is because they are nervous their extensions may get damaged or fall out due to the harsh chemicals of the water.

While hair extensions can become damaged from prolonged exposure to water, there are steps you can take to mend and prevent this from happening the next time you decide on going for a swim.

Before we even get started, you’re probably wondering if you can swim with hair extensions? YES, you can swim with your hair extensions installed! But you need to make sure you know these 4 things first:

  1. If you should be swimming with your hair extensions in salt, chlorinated, fresh or “hard” water.
  2. The best types of hair extensions that are great for swimming.
  3. What to do to protect your hair extensions BEFORE taking a swim.
  4. How to limit damage to your hair extensions AFTER you take a swim.

With that being said, let’s first dive into the types of water you can swim in.

01. Types Of Water You Can Swim In With Hair Extensions

Can you swim with hair extensions in Salt Water?

While saltwater does have its benefits for your skin and scalp, the fact of the matter is salt water can be very damaging for your hair if left untreated. So yes, you can swim in salt water, but it might cause more damage.

Your hair’s water content, or hydration levels, is what makes it stretchy, soft and moisturized. Similar to your skin, your hair can also become dry and dehydrated. This can be very damaging to your skin and hair.

The salt in saltwater is hygroscopic, meaning that it soaks the moisture from your hair quite rapidly. This can leave the hair dry, brittle and knotty.

If your hair has been dyed or chemically treated in any way, the damage can be even worse when exposed to saltwater. This is because the hair has already been stripped of its natural oils, further exposing it to the saltwater’s dehydrating properties.

If you must swim in salt water, be sure to follow precautions and do not spend too long in the water!

Can you swim with hair extensions in chlorinated water?

While the chlorine in most swimming pools can have some really nasty effects on your hair, you can combat this by taking the right precautions to protect your hair before and after you swim.

The extent of the effect of the chlorine depends on how high the level of chlorine is in the swimming pool—if you can smell the waft of chlorine emanating from the pool, you know that the levels are very high and you may want to wait a few hours before you take a chance.

The harsh chemicals in swimming pools can also dry out your extensions like there is no tomorrow! Dry hair inevitably leads to lots of tangles and matting if not treated, so you will need to be extra careful.

Chlorine can also be very damaging to your scalp and can even cause dandruff and rashes. If you are constantly scratching at your scalp you are likely to cause some serious damage to both your scalp and extensions! You also don’t want any nasty infections.

If your extensions have recently had color, it is highly advisable that you rather wait a week or two before diving in. This is because the chlorine can wreak havoc with color, and can even alter the shade to a less than desirable tone! Green hair, anyone?

Is it safe to swim in freshwater with hair extensions?

Freshwater is by far the “safest” water that your hair can come in to contact with, as it as the least chemicals. Freshwater also has low levels of calcium and magnesium, meaning the hair will be less prone to damage.

If you think that the water coming from your tap at home is 100% freshwater, you may need to think again!

Chances are you are dealing with “hard water”, and you will need to take precautions there too.

What is “Hard Water” and can I swim in it?

When freshwater has a high mineral content, it is considered “hard water.” Hardwater can be found most commonly in lakes and even shower water!

Unfortunately, it is difficult to know what chemicals are in the water that comes from your taps at home, so treat your hair with care even after you wet it with shower or bathwater.

02. Best Types of Hair Extensions For Swimming

There are a wide variety of hair extensions available on the market these days, and each one may differently to exposure to water. Let’s first take a look at the different types of hair extensions and how they react to water:

  • Bonded Hair Extensions. These are probably the worst type of hair extensions you can swim with. Although this is not to say that you can’t swim with them, you just need to take extra special care. Unfortunately, once exposed to water, the bonds become weaker and more prone to damage. If you absolutely must swim with them in, be sure to tie them up in a braid (or follow the steps below!)
  • Tape-in/glue extensions. These hair extensions should be OK for swimming, provided that they have been applied correctly. If you are looking for reliable tape-in extensions made from the highest quality medical-grade tape, pure Remy hair, then Glam Seamless Extensions are a really great option.
  • Braided Hair Extensions. Braided hair extensions are no different from other hair extensions when it comes to swimming with them. The important part is that you wash and condition them thoroughly once they have been exposed to harsh chemicals and salt.
  • Micro-bead extensions. You can swim with these, just be extra careful when brushing them and styling them after swimming.

03. Can I Swim with Synthetic Wig or Hair Extensions?

Synthetic hair and human hair both react very differently when they are exposed to water. If your hair is 100% human hair you will find caring for it after your swim in the pool or ocean A LOT easier.

Synthetic hair, on the other hand, is best kept as far away from water as possible if you can help it. While you can swim with synthetic hair, the exposure to water should be kept at an absolutely bare minimum, otherwise, you may find yourself needing to buy a new set of hair sooner rather than later!

Synthetic hair is highly prone to knot and even worse, matting. Unfortunately, once your synthetic wig has become wet and matted, it will be extremely difficult to revert it to its original state.

If you do decide you want to take a dip with your synthetic wig, make sure you take the following precautions:

  • Make sure it is completely detangled before getting in the water.
  • Secure your wig. This one is really vital, as I’m sure you would sooner drown than have your hairpiece fall off by the poolside! Try using The Wig Fix by The Renatural. This is a silicone hairband that is worn underneath your wig to keep it in place all day, completely hassle-free! And unlike glues, the unique silicone material isn’t likely to slip off when in contact with water (whew!)
  • Tie your wig up. If you can, tie your wig up neatly. Using a shower cap is not the best option here, as it may pull on your wig and end in disaster!
Photo of the wig fix from therenatural.com

04. Important Tips to Protect Your Hair Before You Take a Swim

If you’re planning on taking a dip in your pool or in the ocean, it’s important that you take the right precautions to ensure that you protect your hair from the harsh elements of the water.

Here are 6 important tips to protect your hair before you take a swim:

  1. Condition your hair before you get in. Massage a deep conditioning product onto the tips of your hair before taking a dip. This will help keep your hair moisturized and will also prevent any harsh chemicals in the water from soaking into your hair and causing damage. If you’re looking for a good deep-conditioning product, try Easihair pro’s leave-in conditioner.
  2. Brush your hair. Brush your hair thoroughly before taking a dive in the pool or ocean. This will help prevent it from tangling or matting. Make sure you use a gentle-detangling brush so you don’t cause breakage. You can try the Tangle Teezer from Takealot for all your detangling needs. Just be sure to hold your extensions at the root when brushing just to take extra care that you are not pulling too hard!
  3. Check for loose hair extensions. Check for loose extensions before you get in the pool. If you notice any, be sure to fix them up before you get in the water. If you forget to do this, you may find yourself searching at the bottom of the pool for your hair!
  4. Tie your hair up with an elastic band. Before tying your hair up, take the time to put it into a braid. This helps prevent your hair from becoming tangled while you swim, plus it will have a gorgeous wavy texture when you take it out! Wetting your hair can also cause it to pull on your extensions due to the water weight, and this can also be damaging. Tying your hair up will also help prevent this from happening.
  5. Wash your hand thoroughly before touching hair. Most of us will be using sun-tan lotion before getting in the water, but it is important that you do not run your hands through your hair, especially if you have tape-in extensions. This is because the lotion can get in the hairline and can cause the extensions to come loose. You definitely do not want your extensions falling out in the pool or ocean!
  6. Wear a swimming cap. While this may not be the sexiest swimwear attire, but this can be an extremely wise decision if you are serious about protecting your extensions from damage. Silicone swimming caps are the best type for people with long hair and do a great job of keeping it dry. You can grab one on Amazon for only $13.99 and they come in a range of different colors. Just a tip, make sure the cap is not too tight-fitting. If it is too tight this could pull on your extensions!
  7. Avoid heat styling tools. Avoid these before swimming, as they can strip your hair of natural oils and leave it more prone to damage and drying out once exposed to chemicals in the water.

05. Important Tips to Protect Your Hair After You Take a Swim

Now that you know what you need to do before you get in the water, it’s just as important to follow a swim aftercare routine to make sure your hair extensions are completely damage-free!

Here are 5 important tips to protect your hair after you take a swim:

  1. Take the hair down and shampoo as soon as possible. Try and clean your hair as soon as you can once you exit the water. The longer you wait, the more time the chemicals have to seep into your hair and dry it out. Make sure you are using a sulfate-free shampoo such as Ogx Brazilian Keratin Therapy Shampoo.
  2. Condition your extensions again. Use the same leave-in conditioner in your damp hair once it is 100% clean. This will help lock-in the moisture and keep your hair looking and feeling soft and smooth.
  3. Use a good hair mask. You don’t have to do this every time you swim, but it’s definitely a good idea once in a while. If you’re on a budget or are a little unsure which hair masks are best, check out 3 DIY hair masks to bring your hair extensions back to life! Be sure to leave this in for at least 30 minutes, however the longer you leave it in the better it works!
  4. Brush your hair. Use the detangling brush to gently comb your hair through to remove any excess product or tangling. Be sure that you wait a little bit before you brush, as brushing very wet hair straight away can be very damaging for your hair.
  5. Dry your hair. Dry your hair thoroughly on low heat. It is not good for extensions to be left wet for long periods of time, so make sure you don’t forget to do this. In fact, you should not be spending more than 2 hours with your hair wet.


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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