You long to take a cooling plunge in your neighborhood swimming pool, but you dread how dry the chlorine makes your skin and hair. Take heart. You don’t have to wear a full-body scuba suit to protect yourself from the harsh effects of this common disinfectant.

Create a barrier between your skin and chlorinated water by slathering on either a waterproof sunscreen or a special pre-swim lotion designed to prevent chlorine rash, itch, and dry skin.

If your pool’s management requires you to rinse off before you dive in, just make sure you apply the waterproof protectant several minutes before showering. Don’t use soap, but do use regular tap water.

Shower again when you’re done swimming to remove all traces of chlorine. (You can use soap this time.) Then treat your skin to a generous dose of your favorite moisturizing body lotion. Consider trying an after-swim lotion that’s specifically designed to neutralize chlorine’s causticity.

You can treat your hair to the same level of tender-loving protection as your skin. Give your hair a thorough soaking with tap water before you jump in the pool. Hair is porous. If it gets its fill from tap water it’s much less likely to soak up chlorinated pool water.

Next, coat your hair and scalp with a deep conditioner. It’ll provide an extra layer of protection against pool chemicals. Of course, if you’re really serious about keeping your locks pristinely soft and silky, consider donning a swim cap. Don’t think senior citizen aquatics class. Think Esther Williams retro cool. Buy a pair of cat-rimmed sunglasses to complete the look.

Shampoo and recondition your hair as soon as your dip is done. If you can’t lather up right away at least rinse off with tap water so the chlorine doesn’t stay in your hair.

When shielding your hair slips your mind, use one of the many shampoos formulated to take chlorine and other chemicals out of hair.

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R. D. Bartlett began keeping pet fish when he netted minnows out of the brooks near Springfield, Massachusetts. He moved to Florida and began working as the general manager for Aquarium Supply, a tropical fish, goldfish, and koi wholesaler, and then opened his own pet shop. He has coauthored numerous pet care books, mostly centering on reptiles and amphibians. Patricia Bartlett grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and began keeping pet fish at age 10. She has journeyed to Costa Rica and Peru to net and write about angelfish, discus, and knife fish. She is a recent convert to the wonderful world of koi. She has coauthored numerous pet care books, mostly centering on reptiles and amphibians.

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