How Chlorine and Saltwater Affect Your Skin

How Chlorine and Saltwater Affect Your Skin

Five Ways to Soothe Post Summer Dryness

By Kendall Farr, Licensed Esthetician, Spada Skincare

Post summer is a somewhat relative term here in SW Florida since we benefit from ‘summertime’ activities like swimming in pools and saltwater all year long. Which is why as an esthetician I frequently (okay, constantly) recommend treatments for chronically dry and dehydrated facial and body skin. If you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing dryness after swimming, here’s how to soothe your skin from the effects of both chlorine and salt.

Chlorine and Your Skin

First, is chlorine bad for your skin? Not at all but it can really disrupt your skin’s barrier and here’s why: What makes chlorine effective as a disinfectant—a pH level of 7.3—is the same thing that can make it rough on your skin. Your skin’s happy place is a pH of around 5.5 and exposing it to chlorine (for as little as five minutes) raises your pH, putting it into an alkaline (acidic) state. And this causes dryness. Acidity is particularly bad for anyone who is a dry skin type and for people who suffer from conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Symptoms of a disrupted moisture barrier (head to toe) include dryness, dehydration, sensitivity, redness, and rough, bumpy texture. If your skin has been feeling tight or looking a bit lizard-like after a summer of swimming, here’s how to bring it back into balance.

Skin Tips for Pool Swimmers

Apply Sunscreen That’s Formulated for Dry Skin

I get it. Who doesn’t prefer lightweight sunscreen, especially in heat and humidity. But consider this: when you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, a heavier formula is better, no matter your skin type. Heavier formulas usually contain oils that can provide a protective seal, creating a shield between your skin and the pool water to prevent the chlorine from drying you out.

Opt for a pleasant-to-use sunscreen that offers waterproofing from high-quality oils. Try G.M. Collin SPF 50 High Protection Mineral Veil. It’s formulated with a combination of skin loving (non-pore clogging) oils including sesame, rapeseed, coconut, and karanja oils plus the protection of vitamin E for broad spectrum protection. An added benefit: this screen is ocean-friendly and safe for coral reefs.

Apply a Face Oil

If you’re swimming very early or at night—with little to no sunlight present—you can skip the SPF, but do protect your skin from chlorine. Try applying a few drops of a face oil like G.M. Collin Essential Infusion Dry Oil to your face, neck, and chest. Again, oil will create vital waterproofing for your skin.

Shower Immediately After You Get Out of the Pool

When you get out of the pool, head straight for the shower to rinse off the chlorine. If you are making a day of it, have some fresh water poolside to rinse your face and neck and chest (at least) until you can shower. The longer chlorine remains on the skin, the more likely it will cause dryness. Post shower, use a hydrating body lotion—while your skin is damp—to assure that the moisture is deeply absorbed. A big no: leaving unrinsed chlorine on your skin. Shower and moisturize. Never go to bed with chlorine on your skin.

Post Pool: Baby Your Face

If you’ve used a mineral SPF, zinc and titanium oxide (the protective ingredients) have staying power and can be difficult to remove without some left-over residue. Wash your face gently with cleanser using a washcloth to move off any film from sunscreen and chlorine. Try a super-hydrating cleanser like G.M. Collin Hydramucine Cleansing Milk followed by (an alcohol-free) toning mist like G.M. Collin Hydramucine Hydrating Mist to restore your skin’s pH to a compatible 5.5 (this is just one of the reasons that using a toning mist after cleansing is so important). Follow with a moisturizer immediately. What’s key: apply moisture while your skin is still damp from the toner so that its hydrating properties will be sealed in. This assures that your skin is effectively hydrated.

If your skin feels pulled and taut, you are likely dry, dehydrated or both. You can read more about dryness and dehydration (they are different) here. Replace vital moisture by applying a hyaluronic acid serum like G.M. Collin Hydramucine Optimal Serum used between your toner and moisturizer for even more hydration.

Use a Hydrating Face Mask

The savior of stressed-out skin: a hydrating mask. Whenever you’ve exposed your skin to an environment that could cause dryness or dehydration—like a chlorinated pool, an airplane cabin, or extreme heat—it’s a good idea to apply a face mask, for 15 to 20 minutes, a few times per week.

Are you an oily or combination skin type that’s prone to breakouts? It’s time for the remedy of a water-based gel mask. Try G.M. Collin Aqua Mask, a quenching formula infused with essential minerals that delivers intense hydration to thirsty skin cells. Leave your mask in the refrigerator for a cooling treat at the end of the day.

Are you a normal to dry skin type? Give your skin the benefits of a cream-based mask like G.M. Collin Glow Mask, a moisture-rich formula that combines vitamins C, E, B3, and B5, along with soothing E to reduce any redness.

Don’t know your skin type? Schedule a facial to find out exactly what your skin needs for balance and radiance.

Whether you’re swimming in a traditional pool or a saltwater pool (saltwater pools still use chlorine and can be just as drying to the skin) you need to protect your skin. Rinse and then reapply sunscreen that lubricates your skin against dryness. In the shower using a soft, silicone bristle brush with a hydrating, creamy or gel wash is a great way to remove chlorine and SPF residue from your body.

How About Salt Water? Good or Bad for Your Skin?

Really good! Seawater contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, including magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. The therapeutic effects of minerals have been recognized since Ancient Greece when the curative power of balneotherapy—mineral springs bathing—began. The anti-inflammatory benefits for arthritis, skin conditions, and more are real. Fun fact: seawater and blood plasma have a nearly identical chemical composition of minerals. In fact, seawater is similar enough to the body’s internal environment that if white blood cells are removed from the body and placed in a sterile diluted seawater solution, they can maintain normal cell function.

Because saltwater also has a high pH, it can be drying for the skin. Utilize this same checklist of remedies you’ll use for post pool care.

  • Use a heavier-weight, water-resistant SPF to create ‘waterproofing’ for your skin.
  • Rinse down frequently with fresh water while you are at the beach to avoid overdrying.
  • Restore your skin’s pH with a shower after swimming in saltwater.
  • Replace lost moisture with a super-hydrating cleanser, toner, and moisturizers for both the face and body formulated for your skin type and concerns.
  • Apply a moisture mask that’s right for your skin type as needed.

Get The Benefits of Salt Water Without Swimming in The Ocean

Conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis may benefit from the ocean, thanks to the drying effect of the sodium content found in salt water. Each is a condition of inflammation and irritation. Salt water plus a little UV light from the sun can have a positive effect on all of these.

A quick note about salt water and the world of social media: That TikTok you just watched that recommends keeping salt water in a spray bottle to use as an alternative toning facial mist? Well, no. Yes, ocean water contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, but you can only reap limited benefits when you use it in its natural form. Meaning a nice dip in salt water. Spraying your face with salt water—unrinsed—is a guarantee of dryness. For skin health, it’s best to use stable, well-formulated products that contain active ingredients derived from sea plants. There is a term for this: it’s called biomimicry and it’s how cosmetic chemists use biotechnology to isolate the best of a good ingredient, like algae for example. A sophisticated formulation will leverage the skin-changing benefit of the plant and enhance it. This is how ingredients can really penetrate the layers of your skin to effect positive change.

To address fine lines and skin that needs lots of hydration, try a moisturizer like G.M. Collin Marine Revitalizing Cream formulated with 99% pure marine collagen, marine algae, and potent minerals—all ingredients that address the first signs of aging.

Does your skin need an RX rescue from dryness, dehydration, irritation and more? Schedule an AlgoMask + facial at SPADA. A G.M. Collin exclusive, this clinical treatment (miracle worker) delivers soothing, immediate, and long-lasting hydration that benefits all skin types. Formulated with hydrolyzed brown seaweed, the AlgoMask + infuses skin with a powerful concentration of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and lipids derived from seaweed. Remarkable for deep hydration, for soothing, for diffusing redness, and for thermal cooling the skin. You’ll leave glowing!