There’s nothing like sliding into a cool body of water on a steamy day for a few laps or a casual dip. The refreshing feeling hits your skin instantly—and so do any chemicals or irritants that may be in the water. Two of the most common sources of summer skin irritation are chlorine and saltwater. The longer and more frequent the exposure to chlorine or saltwater, the more likely your skin is to become dry and sensitive. What exactly is going on when your skin has been over exposed to salt water and chlorine? And what can help make it better? Read on and find out.
How Does Chlorine Affect Skin?
For many people, the words “chlorine” and “pool” are almost synonymous. The signature pool smell is a result of using chlorine, a disinfectant that sanitizes and cleans pools from bacteria, algae and viruses. While chlorine is quite effective for cleaning a pool, it also can be a highly irritating and drying chemical for our skin.
Chlorine strips skin of its natural oils which can result in skin irritation. Removing these oils disrupts skin’s moisture barrier, and leaves skin feeling tight and dry. Reactions to chlorine may appear over time, even if you have been in chlorine-treated water before without a skin problem.
What Does Saltwater Do to Skin?
Saltwater naturally contains minerals that support healthy skin, including magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium. Like many things, saltwater’s skin benefits only occur when in moderation. When your skin is exposed to too much saltwater, it throws your skin’s natural moisture barrier off-balance. With skin’s defenses lowered, dryness, dullness and irritation can set in. Saltwater’s skin-drying effects don’t stop when you leave the water either. Traces of salt can linger on your skin even after bathing, continuing to strip skin of essential moisture.
Tips to Add Moisture & Reduce Irritation from Chlorine & Saltwater
Exposure to chlorine and saltwater does not have to leave your skin feeling dry and sensitive. A skincare plan that includes removing irritants and restoring moisture can help you enjoy the summer water activities while also keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy.
Protecting your skin from chlorine begins before you jump in. Rinse off prior to getting in the pool to remove oils and sweat on your skin that may react with chlorine.
Once your day swimming in the pool or ocean is over, change out of your suit and shower. It’s important to rinse chlorine and saltwater off as soon as possible. Choose a gentle, non-drying soap that is designed for sensitive skin. Harsh soaps and detergents remove moisture and cause additional damage. As you wash, keep the shower water at a lukewarm temperature to prevent the moisture-stripping irritation that occurs with hot water.
After showering, it’s time for deep hydration to reduce dryness and replenish your skin’s moisture barrier. Look for products that moisturize without fragrances to be as gentle as possible. Moisturizers that are applied to wet skin, before your dry off (the best time to apply a moisturizer) like Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer can penetrate deeply into open pores to restore hydration. For skin that is particularly itchy and irritated, Curél Hydra Therapy Itch Defense Wet Skin Moisturizer with soothing Oatmeal Extract and Vitamin E hydrates to soothe dry, itchy skin.
Go ahead and enjoy your swims on pool and beach days. By following a skincare routine with gentle cleansers and moisturizers, you can have a great time swimming and maintain healthy, hydrated skin.