How to Swim with Long Hair: Complete Guide

There are hardly any other sports that use nearly as many muscles in the body as swimming does, and it is overall a fun activity to do with family and friends for leisure. However, managing long hair when it comes to swimming can be a challenging endeavor. So what are the tips and tricks to help with long hair with swimming, especially for avid swimmers?

To swim with long hair, make sure to pull up hair into a pulled back hairstyle (namely pigtails, buns, ponytails, and braids), wear a swim cap as often as possible, rinse off before entering the pool, and use shampoos and conditioners specifically made for swimmers.

Although that is the general rundown for swimming with long hair, there is understandably a lot more to it. It is so quick and easy for hair to get knotted, matted, and tangled. That said, let’s take a more in-depth look into everything mentioned above and other aspects regarding the ins and outs of swimming with long hair.

How to Style Long Hair for Swimming

Where long hair has the tendency to get knotted and tangled, the following hairstyles help with swimming:


A bun is a great way to put all of your long hair into one place where it will not be moving around in the water at all.

  • Normal
  • Top Knot (Tight)
  • Braided
  • Imperfectly Looped (Twist into a Low Bun)
  • Woven
  • Space (Two Mini Woven Buns)
  • Triple Coil (Three Mini Horizontal Buns)
  • Sun’s Out (Three Mini Buns Vertically)
  • Space Age (Two Pigtail Buns)
  • Dutch Braided Pigtail
  • Ballerina
  • Pigtail
  • Twist Knot
  • Messy
  • Twist Braid
  • Double Boxer Braided


Braids help to avoid snarls and tangles by keeping small strands separated while you are swimming.

  • Normal
  • French
  • Double French (Normal or Tucked)
  • Fishtail
  • Milkmaid (Normal, Twisted, or Reverse)
  • Mermaid
  • Loom
  • Boxer
  • Easy Summer
  • Beach
  • Shoelace
  • Double Waterfall Triple French
  • Back
  • Dutch Sister
  • Scarf


Putting your long hair up in a ponytail is an excellent way to keep it out of your face while still allowing you to have a gorgeous waterfall of hair behind you while you swim.

  • Normal or Basic
  • Bubble or Bubbly
  • Braided Cross Over
  • Looped Twist
  • Rope Twist
  • Souped Up (Bubble Ponytail until Bottom Hairline)
  • Bunched
  • Twist Wrap
  • Braided


Pigtails are even better than braids and ponytails because now there are two of them! Twice the hair protection.

  • Normal
  • Dutch Braid Pigtail


While it is good to pull up all of your hair, having at least the top half of the hair pulled up, either in a braid or a ponytail, is still better to keep away knots and matting.

How to Style Long Hair Post-Swim

Another struggle (in regards to hair and swimming) is the swim hair aftermath. The reality is, swim hair looks far more messy than neat, and understandably so. But if you want to go straight from the pool and to your next event without taking the time to shower and redo your hair, then there are some things you can do. The best way to help with that and keep hair looking good after swimming is to do one of the following:

  • Put the hair into beauty waves (which is a loose top bun set firmly with bobby pins) and make it “messy” after swimming. Once dry, pull it out for fun waves!
  • Pull the hair back into slicked-back strands, which essentially is combing it and then applying gel.
  • Style the hair into a messy top knot.
  • Pull the hair back into a braid.

How to Protect Long Hair for Swimming

When swimming, the chlorine, saltwater, UV rays, and different chemicals present within the water can cause breaks, split ends, and other damage to hair. Obviously, that isn’t really a problem for those who swim very little—maybe a couple of times in the summer. However, the potential for damage dramatically increases as the amount of time you spend in the pool increases. Luckily, there are a few tips that help reduce the amount of harm done, such as the following:

  • Avoid using hot things like a wand or hair straightener. The hair is already experiencing a great amount of heat from the sun with all of the time spent swimming.
  • Use sun-protectant hair spray.
  • Wear a swim cap!
  • Put on chlorine hair protection products before swimming. The swim caps may help tremendously, but they aren’t completely waterproof.
  • Wet the hair and braid or twist it before entering the pool.
  • Don’t let pool water sit in your hair!
  • Rinse hair with clean water and then dry it after swimming in the pool. Generally, it is best to dry with a cloth.
  • Wash hair with conditioner after swimming and include clarifying shampoo while washing when needed.
  • Use a deep, moisturizing conditioner and also use a leave-in conditioner to keep hair soft and healthy.
  • Use hair products that have natural oils and/or proteins in them.
  • Use a conditioner that is specifically made for swimmers.
  • Wait a bit before brushing hair after the pool.

How Long-Haired Swimmers Should Use Swim Caps

A big question people sometimes ask about swim caps, especially with swimming outside or swim practices and competitions, is why you should wear a swim cap. Is there any point to it?

The answer to that question happens to be a resounding yes! A swim cap helps you swim faster and keep your hair out of the pool, out of your face, and out of the way. Additionally, swim caps protect your hair from chemicals (specifically chlorine), keep your head warm, and help you cut through the water more swiftly.

Using a swim cap can seem a bit difficult, but putting hair in a swim cap is easier than it looks. To make it as easy as possible to put long hair in a swim cap, pull your hair up, make it a bit damp, and give the cap a good stretch. Putting conditioner on hair makes it very likely that the swim cap will pop off, so it’s best to avoid conditioner until after swimming. When finished with the swim, rinse the cap with cold water and allow it to dry to keep the material in the best condition possible.

When swimming with long hair, the best swim caps are made from silicone or latex. The silicone material used for swim caps is known for its strength and durability. On the other hand, latex promotes warmth and added comfort, providing a better fit. Alternatively, swim caps made from lycra are particularly not a good way to go.

As a final tip, it is best to get either a long hair swim cap or a bubble swim cap. These two types of swim caps work very well. The other types are far more difficult to use with long hair. Pretty quickly, wearing the swim cap will begin to feel far more normal and natural. Here are some of the best brands and styles of swim caps for those with long hair:

  • Speedo Silicone Long Hair Swim Cap
  • TYR Sport Long Hair Swim Cap
  • Vitchelo Long Hair Swim Cap
  • Friendly Swede Silicone Hair Swim Cap

Hair Products for Long-Haired Swimmers

Hair products, especially conditioners, can make a night and day difference for the healthiness of hair. That is particularly the case for those who swim frequently. As a result, it is essential to know what resources are available to help keep an avid swimmer’s hair happy and healthy. The best products to use are:

  • dpHUE – Using products from this brand is particularly useful for those with any kind of color treatment in their hair.
  • Triswim – This brand specifically works to remove chlorine, water, and green tint in the hair. Specific products from them that are dependable in particular are Chlorine Clarifying Swimmers Conditioner, Chlorine Removal (Swimmers) Shampoo, or Swimmers Lotion Moisturizing Skin Repair Lotion.
  • Ultraswim – This brand removes any buildup from chlorine copper, and other metals. In particular, the Dynamic Duo Repair Shampoo and Conditioner Two-Pack, the Ultra Repair Conditioner, Chlorine Removal Shampoo, Shampoo and Conditioner for Swimmers, or the Dynamic Duo Repair and Conditioner Swimmers Shampoo are good ones.

Additional Tips for Swimming with Long Hair

There is a lot that goes into swimming, especially when long hair is in the picture. Knowing some additional tips and tricks on how to navigate that can help provide the best experience possible. The first tip applies to all, but particularly for those with blonde hair.

Something that few people realize is the coloring effect chlorine can have. It is described as a green tint, and it can have an even more significant effect on those with blonde hair. This is why sprays, shampoos, and conditioners that protect against chlorine are essential for frequent swimmers.

The next tip is to shower first! A lot of pools will have signs saying to rinse off before entering the pool. Typically, we disregard that and enter the pool without rinsing off first. Yet, that doesn’t change the fact that those signs are there for a reason. For starters, the pool stays cleaner when we rinse off first. Rinsing off not only protects the pool but helps us as well. Pools have chemicals such as chlorine in them, and rinsing off before entering the pool offers some protection against those strong chemicals.

For further information on why it’s best to shower before entering the pool, read through Should You Shower Before or After Swimming? (Explained!).

Another helpful trick is to apply natural oil such as olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil before getting in the pool. What this does is gives an added protection to hair from the chemicals in the pool. These natural oils are water-resistant, defend against chlorine, and help hair stay strong.

The catch with this trick is that the natural oil needs to be applied to the hair early enough that it doesn’t make the swim cap slide off of your head. This doesn’t mean it needs to be put on hair super early, just early enough. The amount of oil used will determine how soon you should apply the natural oil to your hair before entering the pool. This is a crucial factor with long hair, as longer hair demands more oil.

When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, it is best to find products specifically made for swimmers. That said, another thing to take into consideration is if the shampoo or conditioner is hypoallergenic or not. That may seem odd at first, but regarding the damage pool chemicals (specifically chlorine) have on hair, hypoallergenic shower products can really help.

Typically, shampoo and conditioner have some chemicals in them. The substances they have aren’t damaging or harmful to hair. However, the hair of an avid swimmer experiences much exposure to chemicals. Giving hair a break from chemicals can help, and hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner don’t have chemicals in them.

Lastly, an idea to help with long hair is to wrap it. Swim caps do a good job protecting hair and helping with it in other ways, but the reality is, swim caps aren’t entirely waterproof.

You can learn more about exactly how waterproof swim caps are by clicking over to Do Swim Caps Keep Hair Dry? (Here’s What to Expect).

Due to this fact, many avid swimmers will wrap their hair underneath the swim cap. It helps keep the hairstyle more intact, ward off the water, keep pool chemicals out of harm’s way, and maintain the swim cap’s condition.

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

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