Swimming three times per week, every week, for a year and a half, has forced me to figure out how to save my hair from the ravages of chlorine.
The first month or so of swimming, I washed my hair after each swim with my good ol' cheapie shampoo and conditioner. It took surprisingly little time for my hair to go from silky soft to feeling so dry it could crack. It faded, tangled constantly and felt awful.
I tried a different shampoo/conditioner brand. I even tried wetting my hair in the shower before going in the pool in the hopes that it would absorb the fresh water and be too waterlogged to absorb the chlorine. In less than a month my hair was destroyed and I wore it tied back every day because it was too damaged to do otherwise.
At my sister's urging I went to a new salon and got my hair coloured (for the first time ever - gasp!) and cut. The colour coated and helped protect my hair and the cut removed a lot of the damage. They recommended a shampoo/conditioner combo for after my swim and then a different shampoo/conditioner for days that I didn't swim. The idea was to strip the chlorine from my hair after a swim and then condition it with a rich conditioner. On the non-swim days, I was to use a shampoo and conditioner that would repair my hair. It was a fairly expensive visit.
Their recommendations were better than what I was using but I didn't love them.
So I shopped around. I asked people at the pool what they use. I looked online. I looked for sales and tried things.
After a year and a lot of empty bottles, I found a chlorine shampoo that works well after swims and a deep conditioner that replenishes what the chlorine shampoo strips away. I also found a shampoo and conditioner that really help repair my hair on my non-swimming days. This four-product combo keeps my hair from being utterly destroyed from 4 1/2 hours a week in the pool.
Oh, and I found a third conditioner that I put on before my swim. I get in the shower, wet my hair, coat in conditioner and then put on my swim cap (which I no longer hate - just dislike intensely). I use this conditioner because it's less expensive than the other conditioners I have but does a good job at keeping my hair protected and tangle-free during swims.
Three different conditioners and two different shampoos. A total of four different brands.
It sounds ridiculous and probably is but it's my system and it seems to be working. Now when I go to get my hair cut they folks who wash my hair compliment me on how healthy it feels and don't believe me when I say I swim three times a week.
This week I was running low on pretty much everything at the same time. Perfect.
The problem is that no one store sells everything at a reasonable price. Winners has the cheapest price for my at-home shampoo and conditioner so I headed there for that. They don't carry any of the other stuff I need. Trade Secrets was having a sale on the brand I use for my at the pool conditioner so I headed there for that. They also have my chlorine-removing shampoo but it's much more expensive there than it is at a little hair salon I discovered quite by accident in the Welland Wal-Mart. So I popped in when I was in Welland and picked my shampoo up there.
Three stops and four bottles later, I'm stocked up and ready to rock and roll.