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How to protect your skin from chlorine and other pool chemicals

boy swimming in pool

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Summer is the season for sunbathing and swimming. The two go hand-in-hand like campfires and s’mores. But for avid swimmers or those with sensitive skin, splashing around can leave you feeling dry and itchy.

Pool Chemicals and Your Skin

While we need chemicals like bromine and chlorine to kill germs, they can wreak havoc on our soft, supple skin. In addition, pool water may affect the pH level of our skin because properly balanced pools contain pH levels between 7.3. and 7.6, which means the water is slightly alkaline.

To put that into perspective, the body’s optimum pH levels range from 4.7 to 5.75, meaning it’s more acidic. If the skin is too alkaline, it becomes drier and more sensitive. The skin’s barrier, also known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping moisture and essential lipids in and bacteria and toxins out.

To protect the skin from the itchy effects of pool water and spa chlorine, you can apply a barrier cream or ointment. This helps to protect and moisturize it. Barrier creams are also effective for eczema because they contain lipids and ceramides, which are naturally occurring substances on healthy skin.

Rinsing off with clean water immediately after swimming can help remove the chemicals, too. There are even body washes designed to help lift bromine and chlorine off the skin, which are more effective than using water alone.

To help get you started safeguarding yourself from pool water, here are a few highly-rated products available today.

Pre-Swim Barrier Creams

Diva Stuff Pre-Swim Aqua Therapy

Diva Stuff Pre-Swim Aqua Therapy Chlorine Neutralizing Body Moisturizing Lotion

$13.99 at Amazon

This pre-swim body cream uses vitamin C and beeswax to neutralize chlorine and create an extra layer of protection. Jamaican black castor oil, cocoa butter and shea replenish skin’s moisture. Backed by a guarantee, this small business offers a 100% lifetime satisfaction guarantee that you likely won’t need, if the Amazon reviews are any indication.

One woman who swims in a heavily chlorinated club pool six days a week said, “This product SAVED me!” She claims she uses it before swimming, as a barrier cream, and after, as a moisturizer.

DermaSwim Pre-Swimming Lotion 

Derma Swim lotion

$18.94 at Amazon

The 97.55% naturally made DermaSwim Pre-Swimming Lotion protects skin against chlorine and bromine found in swimming pools and hot tubs. It can be used before use as a barrier cream or as a post-swim lotion. It’s also made in America. It sells for $14.95 and has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from hundreds of users.

One woman said she wished she’d found it sooner because she’s been allergic to chlorine her entire life. She said, “I never thought I’d find anything to help until this! It’s super simple … you put on a little before you swim, but let it sink in before you dive in! I didn’t need to reapply for the entire day, it stayed on!”

After Swimming

Solpri Swim Lotion With Vitamin C

solpri swim lotion

$18 at Solpri $22 at Amazon

We recommend buying this direct from Solpri as they stand behind their product with a 100% no itch guarantee! “We guarantee that our swim lotion will relieve you of itching from pool chlorine or we’ll refund you 100% of your purchase price, no return necessary.”

TriSwim Chlorine Removal Body Wash

TriSwim Chlorine Removal Body Wash

$16.48 at Amazon

The less chlorine that remains on the skin after showering, the less it can irritate you. TriSwim body wash removes chemicals like chlorine, bromine, salt water and hard water minerals for after-swim care. Formulated with hydrating elements like aloe vera, vitamin E and provitamin B5, it’s perfect for swimmers and athletes as it removes chlorine residue while moisturizing.

It’s paraben- and gluten-free and safe for everyday use. Reviewers have raved about this wash, saying it’s “absolutely worth buying” and others say they “no longer smell like chemicals after a swim.”

With proper before and after skincare, it’s possible to enjoy a day at the pool without any negative side effects. (Just don’t forget to slather on  sunscreen too.)

MORE: How to make homemade swimmer’s ear drops

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. More.

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