It’s about to be beach and swimming pool season and those of us with natural hair – heck, let’s just say black hair in general – are about to encounter a universal, life long struggle. What do we do with our hair when it’s time to get in the water?

Natural Hair & Salt Water


That’s me, in the beautiful waters of the Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys, getting my whole life! I LOVE being in the water! But for years I didn’t know what to do with my hair. Growing up in Trinidad, I dealt with the issue often and tried everything. From combing my hair into plaits for the pool, to rocking a puffy and overstuffed swim cap, to saturating my hair with grease – all tactics used in my teenage years. My mom is from the “never let your hair get wet” school of thought (also from the “never sit in the sun and burn up your skin” thought) so for years that was my solution – keeping my head above water (and making a wave when I can, shout out to Good Times). I’m a Pisces. Like I said, I love being near the water and being in the water. I had to find a better solution.

I reached out to my friend and favorite hairstylists – Felicia Leatherwood, creator of the Detangle Brush – for her tips on natural hair and salt water. What kinds of products can protect those of us seeking to take a dip in the ocean this summer? “Glycerin is probably the best thing,” she mused. “Everyone has different results with glycerin, but it’s good because it can be added to any water soluble product. And when dealing with humidity and moisture, it can make a huge difference! It’s a humectant. Vegetable glycerin can do a lot to benefit natural hair in a moist environment.”

Felicia recommends buying glycerin and mixing it with aloe vera juice to make a DIY pre-ocean spray for hot beach days. She also recommends Aubrey Organics Swimmers Normalizing Shampoo and Conditioner for chlorine swimming protection, it’s intended for people who swim and play sports.

For me, my trip to the Keys required sun protection, so I stocked up on sunscreen for my body, but what about my hair? Click here to read BGLH’s post on natural hair sun protection, featuring the ingredients that offer UV protection. I used oils and heavy balms to seal in the moisture and protect my hair from the salt and the rays. Here are my top product picks for natural hair beach days:

top product picks for natural hair beach days

Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Hair Pomade is a humectant that gives my coils life and slicks down my edges to perfection.

Carol’s Daughter Hair Balm Nourishing Liquid Pomade is a great alternative to heavier hair greases, while somehow managing to be light and penetrative. Thanks be to coconut oil.

SheaMoisture Community Commerce Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Serum is THAT STUFF. My hair absolutely absorbs and adores this blend of shea butter, anti-inflammatory Manuka honey, and replenishing Mafura oil. PLUS 10% of SheaMoisture’s Community Commerce product sales benefit women-led businesses via their fair trade initiative. Good stuff.

Soft & Beautiful Botanicals Oil Treatments – I am SO EXCITED about these three little oil treatments! Soft & Beautiful came up with three oil blends that can be used for styling, pre-poos, hot oil treatments, as you please! They’re incredibly affordable and the ingredients list is on point. There’s Olive Oil with Shea Butter, Creamy Aloe and Vitamin E, then there’s the castor oil blend with Tea Tree, and Ultra Nourishing with Coconut Oil. They smell great, are easy to travel with, and the ingredients lists are impressive.

LRC Shake and Go – I LIVE for a good spray on leave in conditioner and this is one of my forever faves. It brings my hair back to life and gives the immediate moisture I need.

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Hair Masque – because after all that fun in the sun, your hair needs to be replenished with a deep conditioning treatment. This is my latest favorite. It smells amazing!

Felicia Leatherwood agrees, “after swimming, deep conditioning and detangling is essential.” After a long vacay of sun and fun, my hair felt absolutely dehydrated! I recommend giving your natural hair extra love with a hot oil treatment or deep conditioning steam treatment with your Huetiful or hand held Q-Redew hair steamer.

Bellas, have a blast at the beach and enjoy your time at the pool. Hope these helpful tips and product picks keep you feeling and looking your happiest this summer!


pets says:
May 8, 2015, 12:23 pm
Yes for those of us who do not have "dripdry" hair, swimming in ANY body of water can be a real pain! Actually even getting rained on is a not good feel. Thanks for this.
Atiya says:
May 8, 2015, 2:10 pm
I have the Oyin Burnt Sugar Pomade... How exactly should I use this in regards to the beach? Please let me know and thanks for this post! This will be useful for my cruise this summer!!
Samantha says:
May 15, 2015, 7:31 pm
I havent tried any of these products. And i basically been staying away from the pool/beach and feel like i had too because my hair would become so dry. Thank you for these tips.
MJ says:
May 19, 2015, 4:43 am
Great post. Very informative. Thanks for the tips. Have a great day! :)
Tara says:
June 3, 2015, 7:38 am
Really nice post. Usually I apply coconut oil on my hair when I go on beach. and It works fine for me but it makes my hair look greasy. So I am definitely going for try one of the products you have mentioned above.
Thelazycurls says:
September 17, 2015, 4:48 am
Love this post, made a similar one for people in the UK because most of the products you've listed aren't available here. Feel free to have a look xx
Tulasi Sandeep says:
December 6, 2015, 9:16 am
Thanks for this wonderful article
DeeOre says:
October 13, 2016, 5:29 am
Hello , interesting article! personally i don' t think that sea salt is that bad for hair. I find that it actually has great strengthening and anti-dandruff properties provided you have the right shampoo or conditioner at hand.