Can you swim after getting your hair highlighted? How long should you wait?

woman with hair highlights ready to go swimming

  • It would be ideal to wait at least one week to swim getting your hair highlighted.
  • But you should always take some precautions to avoid damaging the color of your highlights.
  • The most important thing is to protect your highlighted hair with a swimming cap before swimming. And before and after swimming, rinse your hair with tap water to remove the chlorine from the pool or salts and minerals from the salt water.
  • Finally, there are some specific products to protect colored or highlighted hair when you go swimming. I’ll tell you more about them later.


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What if you couldn’t ever swim after getting your highlights? On the beach in the summer you’d only ever see women with brown, black, or natural hair.

 Of course you can swim after getting highlights! 


But, and I’m sorry there is this “but”, after getting your highlights you’ll have to wait at least a week to go swimming.


woman applying highlights with foil in salon

Mainly for two reasons:

  • First, for your hair’s health. When you got highlights, you bleached part of your hair. Therefore, that part lost moisture and nutrients.  If you swim during the next day or two after the highlights , your hair will dry out even more. The chlorine, salt, and minerals in the water deplete your hair of moisture further.
  • But in addition, your colorist probably also applied a dye or toner to brighten the color of your highlights.  If you don’t wait at least a week after getting your highlights done before swimming , the pigments in the toner will start to fade. And those harsh colors will start to appear, which spoil the highlighting technique. Also, bleach can leave your highlights greenish or reddish, depending on the type of treatment they use, because some contain copper derivatives.


So after you get your highlights, wait a week to go swimming. But you should also take note of these care tips.


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How to protect your highlights while swimming

woman with swimming cap ready to swim

“Short but sweet”. That’s what my grandmother used to say and I totally agree.

That’s why I’m going to give you just a short checklist to protect your hair before you go swimming. Short, but effective.

  •  Rinse your hair before and after swimming.  Beforehand, because your hair will absorb the water, and since it will already be wet, it will absorb less chlorinated or salt water. That way the water will fade your highlights less. And by rinsing your hair after swimming, you will remove any remaining chlorine or sea salts.
  •  Wear a swimming cap , because it will protect your highlights and scalp from the sun’s rays. In addition, since the sun’s rays pass through blonde hair more easily than through brown or black hair, using a swimming cap will prevent any scalp irritation.

These are the essentials to protect your highlights from chlorine or salt water before you go swimming. But if your budget allows it, there are also some specific products you can use. And that’s what I’ll tell you about below.


What products can you use to protect your highlights while swimming?

Malibu hair line to protect hair highlights in swimmers

The truth is that  to protect your highlights while swimming, your best option is a swimming cap. 

And the best swimming caps to protect colored or highlighted hair are those made with waterproof silicone, as it keeps the hair dry, almost 100%.


However,  there are some products that can help you maintain the color of your highlights when you finish swimming . They’ll prevent the sun’s rays from fading the color of your highlights.

For example, the brand MALIBU developed a complete line to protect colored or natural hair for swimmers. It’s called SWIMMERS WELLNESS COLLECTION, and it’s composed of shampoo, conditioner, and vitamin C crystals.

Yes, crystals. Well, actually, they’re kind of like gels, which revitalize the color of your highlights. They also help remove any greenish residue, which the water may leave in your hair.

Apply the products to damp hair, leave them on for five minutes and rinse them out with warm water.

If you don’t want to buy the whole line, you can buy just the crystals and use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.



After getting highlights, I recommend you wait at least a week to go swimming. Because this way you won’t damage your hair and you’ll protect the color of your highlights.

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