written by @fauxringlets, follow her on Instagram!
For women with hair loss, diving in at the pool, beach, or lake can fill us with anxiety and questions. Most importantly: Should I swim with my wig on?
The short answer: YES! You can definitely rock your wigs and toppers in the water.
The long answer: Yes, but we wouldn't recommend swimming in your more expensive human hairpieces. And while you can absolutely swim in any piece, you should first consider the risks and extra steps you'll have to take.
If you’ve invested in high-quality human hair wigs and toppers, swimming in chlorine or saltwater can impact the integrity of the piece. Swimming one time in your wig will likely not damage your piece (especially if you do not submerge your head). However, swimming regularly will.
Don’t panic just yet! Your wig or topper won’t fall apart if you’ve already splashed around in a little bit of chlorinated water. But before choosing to wear your expensive human hair pieces to the pool or beach, there are some factors you should consider.
Wear and Tear
Swimming, especially over time, will eventually cause the hair quality of human hair pieces to deteriorate. Chlorine and salt water can cause human hair to dry out. Remember that human hair wigs and toppers will react just like the hair growing out of someone’s head!
While you can swim in your nicer pieces, just beware that diving in will likely shorten your wig or topper's lifespan. For women with hair loss, this can be devastating, especially if you only own one piece. Alternative hair is a big investment, so choose your pool/beach hair according to your budget and lifestyle.
Consider wearing an older wig or topper to swim in, or investing in an affordable hairpiece. If you have piece that you wear every day, I strongly recommend against swimming in it. You don’t want to risk damaging your only hairpiece.
Synthetic wigs and toppers are great options for swimming. Synthetic hairpieces are more affordable than human ones and, as a bonus, synthetic hair retains its style, so you won’t have to worry about how your hair will look when its air-dried!
However, if you hit the waves or jump in poolside in your synthetic wig or topper, you should still expect that piece to have a shorter lifespan than it otherwise would have.
All human hair lightens or oxidizes in the sun. If you have a rooted piece, expect those roots to fade (at least slightly) and that the sun will add warmth to your human hair wig or topper. If you choose not to go swimming, but you still wear your nice human hair piece to the pool or beach, be aware that you may still experience some oxidation.
UV protectants can help if you’re worried about the color fading or lightening, but they won’t prevent it entirely. Wearing a hat can also help prevent oxidation. Even if your wig or topper does oxidize, as long as it has high quality hair, a hairdresser experienced with alternative hair should be able to color correct it. If you’d rather not deal with your human hairpieces oxidizing, synthetic hair is a great option, as these colors will not fade.
Chlorine can also affect the color of human hair pieces, particularly lighter processed hair and blonde wigs or toppers. I have only gone swimming in synthetic wigs, so I have not experienced this personally, but be aware this may be a risk.
Your activity level will affect the wear and tear on any hairpiece you choose to wear to the pool or beach. If you only plan on wading in the water without fully submerging your wig, chances are, your piece will be completely fine.
If you plan on diving, snorkeling, or surfing in your wig, you’ll notice a lot more wear and tear to your toppers and wigs (and you also run a higher risk of the piece coming off unexpectedly).
Your activity level may influence how you decide to secure your wig or topper. Different methods work for different people, so be sure to experiment to find what works for you.
Personally, I’ve gone swimming with a wig grip under my wig without any issues. If you want additional security, consider wearing a headband over your hairpiece or wearing goggles.
If you want to use wig adhesives, make sure they are not water-soluble and are labelled as water-resistent. I’ve never swam with wig glue or tape, so I can’t speak to their effectiveness. If you want to try swimming with a waterproof adhesive, I’d recommend also wearing a wig grip, headband, or goggles at first, to make sure your hair stays secure.
Additionally, if you’re not planning to submerge your head, hats can help keep your alternative hair secure.
All hair tangles. It is an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of hair-wearing. The hair on your wig or topper is more prone to tangling in some activities than others. If you leave your hair loose when swimming, it will likely tangle and knot significantly as the hair moves around.
Tangling can cause additional damage to the hair, as combing through and detangling wet hair is more likely to result in the hair stretching and breaking off. Even if you wait until the hair has dried, excessive knotting can cause hair to shed from your piece prematurely.
To help mitigate this damage, I strongly recommend wearing any alternative hair that is longer than shoulder-length in some sort of secured style. Ponytails, buns, and braids will all work to minimize tangling while enjoying the water in your wig.
If you use the clips on your topper or wig, securing the hair closer to your head may also help prevent the clips from tugging at your scalp when underwater.
What to Bring
You should always bring a comb with you. It is always a good rule of thumb for alternative hair wearers to bring a comb everywhere they go, but it is especially important if you’re going to be doing any activity where hair is prone to tangling, like swimming.
Be very careful detangling your hair, especially if it’s soaking wet. Remember that wet hair is more likely to stretch and break off when you comb it—never brush wet hair! Squeeze out as much water as you can, and always start combing from the ends.
Plan to wash the wigs and toppers you swim in soon after using them. Ideally, you should wash your hairpiece the night after you swim in it, or the following day. The only exception to this rule is if you plan on swimming multiple days in a row, in which case you may not want to wash your piece, but you will likely see the effects of the saltwater or chlorine on the hair.
When you do wash your wig or topper, be very careful detangling it. For human hairpieces, invest in a good deep conditioning mask and use it liberally after you’ve gone swimming.
If you choose to wear a human hair wig or topper swimming, I recommend watching Lavish Locs Hair’s video about swimming in a wig:
You can find me on Instagram @fauxringlets!