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Colin Solves Your Problems 23 – Does Chlorine in Swimming Pool Water Affect the Skin?

Can the chlorine in swimming pool water affect the skin

An interesting question from SuZan who is  a keen swimmer.

Hello Colin- I’m a v keen and impressive swimmer- but I’m worried about the effect of chlorine on my skin- the stuff disintegrates my cossies slowly but surely and gnaws away at my goggles so whatthe heckythump is it doing to my peau ? I would love your opinion on a skin barrier product called GLOVES IN A BOTTLE. I’ve been through 4 bottles of this (I apply b4 swim).. but looked at the ingred including :Isopropyl Myristate ,Dimethicone,Triethanolamine,Hypromellose,VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Steareth-21 , marmite ( put that 1 in to see if u’re still reading !) ,Phenoxyethanol. (I have looked some of these up and seen some scareymongering (?).. I suppose all I’m asking is could this stuff stop the chlorine penetrating/dryin out my skin… or am I just spreading pricey chemicals on pointlessly? *Their website has an impressive vid showing ‘G in a bot’ repelling acid ! Much obliged and x for any info.

Well that is an interesting question, or rather two questions.  (Or three if you count did I notice the Marmite reference.)   First of all, does the chlorine in swimming pool water affect your skin?

I enjoy getting questions like this, because it is not something that has ever crossed my mind before.   A quick google reveals that chlorine is used at levels up to 3ppm in swimming pools, which is not a huge amount.  I don’t think it will have too much of a bad effect on your skin.  Chlorine is very reactive molecule that will break up anything it comes into contact with.  What it is doing to your clothes is making tiny holes in the structure of the clothe.  Over time this weakens the whole thing, a bit like a game of Jenga.

It carries out the same reactions on the surface of your skin.  This sounds alarming, but each chlorine molecule can only hit once.  And given how reactive chlorine is, it won’t get very far.  And as the top surface of your skin is constantly sloughing off, it won’t do any lasting damage. I think your skin is probably more adversely affected by the immersion in the water and the subsequent drying out than from the chlorine.

So I don’t think you particularly need something to protect your skin from chlorine.  But on the other hand, the idea of keeping the water out sounds quite appealing.  Which brings me onto your product.  I have never come across this product, but those ingredients ought to be a a pretty good barrier.  If formulated well, it might well stop your skin drying out.  It might well be worth a try.

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