As someone who’s learned the hard way that chlorine can royally mess with your hair (trust: green highlights are not as fun as they sound), I’ll be the first person to tell you that chelating shampoo—aka intensely clarifying shampoos that are formulated to cut through mineral and chemical buildup—are a must. And it’s not just color-treated folks who need to worry about hair damage after a swim, btw. According to Meri Kate O’Connor, celebrity colorist at Loft 647 in West Hollywood, chlorine can strip natural oils, create tangles and dryness, and even cause split ends on all hair types.
That doesn’t mean you need to skip out on pool day though. Just make sure your shower is stocked with a chlorine-removal shampoo, like one of these top-rated formulas below, that’ll cancel out green or brassy tones, heavy residues, and chemical odors. There’s just one thing to keep in mind: Because chelating and clarifying shampoos are powerful cleansers, you’ll want to (A) limit your use to once a week max and (B) always follow with a deep-conditioning treatment to prevent dryness, says O’Connor. Got it? Cool, now go forth and find your favorite formula.
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Best Chlorine-Removal Shampoo for Blondes
Malibu C Swimmers Wellness Shampoo
One of O’Connor’s favorites for chlorine removal, this shampoo works to counteract green hues and brittle ends with antioxidants and proteins. Follow with the brand’s hydrating conditioner (and the rinse-out treatment if you’re dealing with extra buildup) to help keep your hair soft and shiny with each use.
Best Chlorine-Removal Shampoo for Regular Swimmers
Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three
Trust: If regular swimming is a part of your lifestyle, you absolutely need this chelating shampoo. Lather up with this guy once a week max and the formula’s deep cleansers will cut through chlorine, iron, and minerals as you wash. Just make sure you follow with a deep conditioner to prevent any dryness, k?
Best Chlorine-Removal Shampoo for Curls
Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo
Clarifying shampoos are notoriously harsh, especially when it comes to curly textures that require extra moisture. That’s where this gentle option from Ouidad comes in handy—it’s spiked with a blend of fruit acids and vitamins that help wash away chlorine residue and product buildup without stripping your hair dry.
Best Affordable Chlorine-Removal Shampoo
UltraSwim Chlorine Removal Shampoo
If you’re looking for a v affordable chelating shampoo that gets the job done, you can’t go wrong with this drugstore option. Post swimming, work a dollop of this bb through your hair and it’ll remove chlorine buildup and odors with ease. This one is a bit too harsh for regular use (and you’ll def want to load up on conditioner afterwards) but it’s definitely a smart option to have on hand when needed.
Best Shampoo for Chlorine Removal and Dry Scalp
Eden BodyWorks Natural Shampoo Peppermint Tea Tree
Chelating shampoos are unfortunately too harsh for folks with super-sensitive scalps, but this gentle clarifier is a great alternative. Instead of stripping sulfates and irritants, it’s formulated with peppermint and tea tree oils to cleanse and soothe your scalp of any chlorine, product buildup, and itchiness.
Best Chlorine-Removal Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair
IGK First Class Detoxifying Charcoal Shampoo
I get it: Chlorine exposure is already harsh on color-treated hair, so why bring stripping sulfates into the equation too? This cleanser is equipped with gentle clarifiers like witch hazel, tea tree, and activated charcoal—all of which cut through chlorine and minerals without sacrificing your hair color or shine.
Best Shampoo for Chlorine and Buildup Removal
Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream
Another one of O’Connor’s recs, this creamy shampoo is just as effective at removing product buildup (think: hairspray, dry shampoo, the works) as it is chlorine, copper, iron, and magnesium. Plus, it doesn’t leave you hair limp or string-y (although you’ll def want to follow with conditioner as usual) as evidenced by all the glowing reviews on Ulta.
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