At about the age of 23, I realized that I was in fact not too cool for swim caps.* Since then, I’ve been a cap fiend, pretty much unable to have an enjoyable aquatic experience without something made of silicone wrapped tightly around my hair. “But why,” you might be asking yourself, “does this even matter?”
Well dear flipper-friends, the answer is two-fold (mmm, too bad it’s not five fold, because then we might have some original origami along with an answer!):
1. Chlorine’s a meanie when it comes to your hair. The more time you spend in a chemically-enhanced pool, the more time your hair is soaking up some delightful chlorinated water. This invisible hair-hater has the unfriendly ability to dry out, discolor, and fry your hair. According to Laura Williams at Livestrong.com, “Pool water has a number of chemicals in it that can strip your hair of its natural oils, causing your hair to become dull. If you can keep your hair at least moderately dry during your swim, you can help prevent some of the damage that pool water can cause.”
From personal experience, I can tell you that letting chlorine hang out in your hair leads to pretty special results. At the tender age of 15, I had joined swim team and also had a penchant for being a dirty hippie, which seemed to involve not actually shampooing or brushing my hair ever. I noticed that my hair was beginning to clump together in an almost sticky fashion, creating dread-locks that were a bear to comb out. Meghan, a very brave friend, eventually tackled my hair and while I complained about not knowing what was wrong with it, she said, “well, you sure do have a lot of chlorine in there.” Things were better in hairland when I discovered Herbal Essences.
2. Some people totally care about speed. And a swim cap will make you swim at dolphin-fast paces. That is totally an exaggeration. But a cap does reduce resistance (no viva la resistance here, kittens!) in the water, and thus helps streamline your movement. Water will easily pass over your cap as you cut through the water like the swimming ninja you’ve always known yourself to be!
Swim caps typically come in three different textures. I’ll list them in order of my own preference:
* Silicone: these bad-boys are a thick rubbery-material that can cost upwards of seven dollars, but last a really long time (mine’s about to hit the two year mark!). They don’t grab at your hair like angry, hairless fairies live inside of them, and they stay suctioned down remarkably well.
* Latex: Really thin, really cheap, and if dentist’s gloves broke at the same rate these did, well…I’d know what it’s like to have a balloon explode in my mouth on a twice-a-year basis. These latex guys also have a tendency to yank out your hair, and I find them troublesome. But they are inexpensive, and if you take care of them, they can last at least six months.
* Lycra: Like biker shorts, but for your head! These don’t hold my hair back at all, and tend to fall right off me. But I bet they are nice for someone. Impossible to break, though.
And now you know. And knowledge is power!
* Today at the pool, a woman who was planning to water-walk ambled onto the deck. She was unabashedly wearing a plastic produce bag over her hair. Ken suggested perhaps she swam into it, and it got stuck to her the way plastic bags are prone to do when you drive over them. I could not decide if she was innovative or really freaking confused.