Can I swim in the pool or in the ocean if I’ve gotten a perm?

perm ruined by sea salt

You’ve gotten a perm and you want to know if you can swim in the ocean on in the pool?


Let me be clear from the start.

  • 72 hours after getting a perm, you shouldn’t get it wet with any kind of water. Not salt water or chlorinated water or oxygenated water or distilled water.
  • No water at all until the first 72 hours go by, which is when the new curl pattern stabilizes in your hair. Not even two drops of rain.

If you do, you can say goodbye to your perm.

Want to know how I know all this?


 Unfortunately, I didn’t know all this and I got my hair wet the day after getting a perm and my curls went to hell. 

Want me to tell you my sad story?


I know there are worse things, but when you spent 200 dollars on your perm, you don’t want to throw your money down the drain.

Of course, I didn’t know that my destiny was already set the day that I left the salon.


My story started with me wanting my change my look, and that change has a name: Gustavo.

  • Have you ever felt like if you were in front of a guy that you have a huge crush on and Leonardo Di Caprio walked by, you wouldn’t even turn around to look at him?
  • Have you ever felt like your entire notion of time just goes out the window when he talks to you, even though the topic inevitably goes to cars and sports?


If so, then you get me.

There was just one thing: my guys liked girls with curly hair.

So, I decided that there was just one thing between me and my man: my lack of curls.

Solution: Get a perm!

Yes, I know curlers exist! But, have you ever used one before?


I have just one time and never again!

I ended up with this horrible crick in my neck, the curls lost their shape in two seconds and I even had a few burns on my ears.


So, I got a perm.

And that afternoon when I got to the salon, WhatsApp made my day, but when I opened the message, all my happiness disappeared.

 It said, “Want to come to my weekend house? Some friends are coming and there’s a pool, some grills and a lot of fun.” The message ended with an Emoji, the winking one. 


Why didn’t he say anything before? I wanted to send him the angry emoji, but I contained myself. Instead, I sent the clapping hands one.

Nothing in the world would stop me from going because Carola was also in the group, and she wouldn’t have any second thoughts about taking advantage of my absence.

So, the next day, I got my bag together and I went on the adventure.


 I knew that the perm + water with chlorine = disaster, but I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity for Gustavo to see me with my new curls. 

When he saw me, I know that his jaw dropped. When I took a curl and let it twirl between his fingers, without breaking his gaze, I knew I had gotten him.


I’d brought a swim cap to protect my perm from the pool water, but when your man is looking at you like a goddess, it’s the last thing on your mind.

So, I spent the afternoon swimming all around, diving in the water. It was an unforgettable afternoon, because we finally got together under the watchful eye of Carola that was foaming at the mouth.

The problem was when I got home, and I washed my hair.


 There was nothing left of my beautiful beach waves, and even worse, my hair was super frizzy and when I touched it, it was like sandpaper. 

I washed my hair again and the result was the same.

The pool water had definitively ruined my perm. And there was no going back.


But there’s still time for you to save yours. That’s why I’m going to tell you about:

  • Why you shouldn’t get into the pool or the ocean immediately after getting a perm.
  • What can you do if you don’t have any option other than swimming in the ocean or the pool.


I’ll also tell you about how Gustavo reacted when he saw that my perm had gone away, are you going to miss that?


Tabla de Contenidos


Why you should avoid ocean water or water with chlorine when you get a perm

That night, after crying for about two hours, I sat down in front of my computer to look for answers. I wish I had thought of saint Google before getting in the pool with my perm.

But, I’ll tell you what I learned because I don’t want the same thing to happen to you. And besides, you aren’t Carola.


  • The chemicals that are used during a perm tend to leave your hair more porous than it was before, because it creates curl patterns that weaken the cuticle layer of the hair and let moisture in and out more easily.
  • During the waiting period, those famous 72 hours, your hair is “reestablishing” its natural balance and that lets the cuticle layer establish again.
  • That means that until the cuticle layer is completely closed, anything can permanently interfere with the setting process.


The chemical products used in pools to condition the water and to control the growth of mold and bacteria, like chlorine, can be very bad for hair under normal circumstances.

 But, with a perm, they are doubly as bad, because they interrupt the process and the pattern isn’t able to finish setting. 


With ocean water, something similar happens. I don’t recommend letting your hair come into contact with salt water before the 72 hours have passed, because you’ll just end up with tangled and frizzy curls.


Now, what happens if you find yourself in a situation like mine where you simply cannot resist taking a dip into the pool or swimming in the ocean?

Can you think of a solution?

I’m about to give you one.


How to protect your perm from chlorinated water or from the ocean

I’m going to repeat it once again: it’s always better not to get your perm wet during the first 72 hours. But, “but’s” exist, like in my case.

You know what my biggest regret is?


That I had the solution right in front of me and I didn’t use it.

 And that solution is called a swim cap, yes, those things that swimmers use. 

That simple little plastic hat would have saved my perm, but in my blind flirting, I ignored it.


Now, there’s the right way to use it before going to swim if you have a new perm.

  • Before putting the hat one, apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair, since that product will help seal in the moisture and nutrients.
  • Pull your hair together at the top part of your head, taking the curls in sections of one or two at a time and wrap them up toward your scalp like little buns.
  • Then, use a few hair clips to secure them as far as possible from your neck. This will help to maintain the curls’ form.
  • Finally, put the swim cap on, starting from your nape and pulling the cap forward to over your hair, putting all of your hair into the cap to protect it.

Do you want to know another secret?


Even when you use a swim cap when you take a dip, you should still use a shampoo and conditioner specially designed for swimmers

Yes, you better believe it, there are hair products specifically made for swimmers that have ingredients that help to neutralize chlorine’s effect on hair.



  • If you can avoid the ocean and pool during the first 72 hours after your perm, you’ll be safe.
  • When you finish swimming, always rinse your perm with tap water to do away with salt and chlorine. That will help to avoid your curls drying out.
  • And, lastly, if you don’t have another choice, use a swim cap.

Do you want to know what happened with Gustavo after our weekend in the countryside adventure?


He kept looking at me the same way that he did when he looked at me with my curls between his fingers. Because, with or without curls, I’m the girl of his dreams.


Have you ever swam with a newly done perm?

What were the consequences?

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