written by @fauxringlets, follow her on Instagram!
When the weather is warm, many alternative hair wearers have the same question. Can you swim in a wig or a topper?
The short answer: YES!
The long answer: Yes, you can swim in alternative hair, but I would not recommend swimming in your more expensive pieces. You can absolutely swim in any piece, but you should first consider the risks.
If you’ve invested in high quality human hair wigs or toppers, swimming in chlorine or salt water can add additional wear and tear to the hair quality. Swimming one time (especially if you do not submerge your head) will likely not damage your piece. Swimming regularly will.
Don’t panic! Your wig or topper won’t fall apart if you’re splashed with 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 those pieces will likely have a shorter lifespan. 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 piece. If you have one wig or topper that you wear every day, I strongly recommend against swimming in it. You don’t want to damage your only/daily piece.
Synthetic wigs and toppers are a great option for swimming. They are more affordable than human hair pieces, and as a bonus, synthetic hair retains its style, so you won’t have to worry about how your hair will look air dried!
Even if you swim in a 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 expect the sun to add warmth to your human hair wig or topper. If you choose not to go swimming, but you want to wear your nice human hair piece to the pool or beach, be aware that you may experience some oxidation.
UV protectants can help if you’re worried about your color fading or lightening (but they won’t prevent it entirely), and 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 pieces oxidizing, synthetic hair is a great option, as synthetic colors will not fade.
Chlorine may also have an effect on the color of human hair pieces, particularly processed 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 piece you choose to wear to the pool or beach. If you only plan on wading in the water without fully submerging, chances are, your piece will be completely fine.
If you plan on diving, snorkeling, surfing, etc, you’ll experience a lot more wear and tear on your pieces.
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 hair or wearing goggles.
If you want to use adhesives, make sure they are not water-soluble. I’ve never swam with adhesives on, so I can’t speak to their effectiveness. If you want to try swimming with an adhesive (such as tape), 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. Hair 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.
This 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 more hair to shed from your piece.
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.
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 (such as 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 it! Squeeze out as much water as you can, and always start combing from the ends of the hair.
Plan to wash your swim hair soon after using it. Ideally, you should wash it 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 salt water or chlorine on the hair.
When you do wash your wig or topper, be very careful detangling it. For human hair, 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!