Hair extensions can give you beautiful, voluminous locks. But can you still enjoy swimming and water activities with extensions in place? Or will chlorine, saltwater, and moisture damage and loosen your new hair? Here’s what you need to know about swimming with hair extensions.

The Effect of Water on Extensions

In general, getting hair extensions wet is not recommended. When extensions get soaked, several issues can occur:

  • Adhesives loosening at the bonds
  • Tangling and matting, especially at the bonds
  • Faster loosening and shedding of extensions
  • Oxidation and corrosion of metal in beads or keratin tips
  • Hard water mineral buildup on the hair shaft
  • Promotion of mold or mildew on the hair
  • Color leaching and fading, especially with chlorine

Too much water exposure can shorten the lifespan of hair extensions significantly.

Hair Extensions

Is Swimming Possible?

While swimming presents risks to extensions, it doesn’t necessarily have to be avoided completely. With proper precautions, you can safely enjoy the pool or ocean without immediately ruining a pricey set of extensions. Here are tips:

Choose High-Quality Hair

The quality of the hair itself makes a difference. 100% remy human hair that hasn’t been overly processed can better withstand some water exposure. Synthetic hair or low-grade human hair is more vulnerable.

Have Them Professionally Installed

Salon-installed hair extensions using high-quality application methods like micro links, micro beads, or keratin bonds hold up far better than self-applied methods like glue or tape-in extensions. The bonds maintain integrity better when wet.

Use Protective Products

Coat hair extensions with a protective barrier like waterproofing spray, silicone serum, or leave-in conditioner prior to swimming. This helps seal out moisture and prevents absorption by the hair cuticle.

Rinse Out Chlorine

After swimming in a chlorinated pool, immediately rinse extensions in cool, clean water to dilute the chlorine and stop it from saturating the hair.

Avoid Saltwater

While chlorine is bad for extensions, saltwater is even worse. The salt causes more corrosion and is harder to wash out. It’s best to avoid swimming in the ocean with extensions.

Wear a Swim Cap

A tight-fitting swim cap creates a protective barrier to keep your extensions from directly contacting the water while swimming.


Limit Wet Time

The longer extensions soak, the more damage. Try to spend only short periods in the water and promptly towel dry after swimming. Don’t lounge poolside with wet hair.

Dry Thoroughly

Rub hair gently with a towel to absorb excess moisture. Air drying is best, but you can use a cool setting on a blow dryer. Completely drying extensions prevents mildew.

Remove Before Showering

Avoid getting extensions wet in the shower or bath. The steam amplifies the effects of moisture. Shower with your hair pinned up, only washing the natural hair.

Maintenance After Swimming

To maximize the lifespan of wetted extensions:

  1. Detangle strands gently with a wide-tooth comb
  2. Apply moisturizing treatments like leave-in conditioner
  3. Avoid harsh shampoos and hot water
  4. Trim any uneven, split ends
  5. Get extensions touched up or redone as needed

Can You Swim with Clip-Ins?

Clip-in hair extensions are the least permanent option. But moisture can still damage them with repeated swimming. Clip-ins may tangle and shed excessively when wet.

It’s best to remove clip-ins before swimming. They are easy to take out and re-clip in when dry.


While not ideal, occasional swimming need not ruin a good set of hair extensions if you take proper precautions. Avoid soaking extensions regularly, and follow tips to minimize water contact. High-quality application and hair products will ensure your extensions still look beautiful after an occasional dip.

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