Can Chlorine Cause Hair Loss?

We know chlorine as a potent chemical primarily known for bleaching water. Our daily contact with it is more or less benign, but we must not neglect the fact of our regular exposure to it.

Chlorine is not only in the nearby pool—it’s in the water that comes from faucets.

Read more to learn what chlorine actually is and does, and how to work around its potentially corrosive effects on your hair possibly contributing to female hair loss.

What Is Chlorine and Why Is It in Our Tap Water

In nature, chlorine just comes from salt—it’s most common compound. It naturally forms in saltwater brines, turning into the inorganic compound we typically associate with summer. Also referred to as a halogen—(or a “salt-former”)—chlorine can be exceptionally reactive and even explode in direct sunlight when combined with hydrogen—yikes!

When manufactured on a large scale, (I’ll save you the gory details), there is some gas-bubbling, Manganese Dioxide, Hydrochloric Acid, and sulphuric acid involved in the process. And, you guessed it!

Water treatment plants don’t use naturally occurring chlorine in water sanitation. Why the heck do we douse our scalps and hair in it?

There are a number of reasons why people view chlorinated water as beneficial or even a modern breakthrough in public health. Chlorine treatment for water began in the late 1800’s. By 1904, it was standard procedure and protocol for cities to treat their water supply in this way before piping it into homes.

Water, although life-saving, can be hazardous as it effortlessly carries diseases. Chlorine destroys deadly bacteria and viruses that cause e. Coli and the norovirus. This technological advancement was revolutionary on a global scale.

Just like with everything, there are costs and benefits. One of the main reasons plants use chlorine is because of its price—it’s cheap. The production process is extraordinarily efficient in the eyes of manufacturers because there are chemical by-products such as sodium hydroxide that are useful to other chemical manufacturing efforts.

However, as scientific understanding and holistic health progresses, the world is now beginning to see the harmful effects of chlorine. And, for women who experience hair loss, chlorine might be dually an aggravating and disinfecting agent.

What Chlorine Does to Our Bodies

Abundant in nature in its chloride ion form, many animals—including humans—need chlorine. However, there is a limit to how much we can physically tolerate.

The previous description of its reactivity (remember how it explodes in the sun!) supposes chlorine in small quantities acts as an irritant. (In fact, as defined by the U.S. EPA, chlorine’s sole purpose is to kill living organisms—it’s termed as a pesticide). Think about the effects consecutive days at the pool have on your external body—itchy eyes, dry skin, and brittle hair.

The concern of chlorine and hair damage is nothing new to the haircare world. Many stylists and hair care experts advise using a product like a leave-in conditioner before jumping into a chlorinated pool.

Some even suggest taking a shower to fill hair pores avoiding a chlorine overload. Now, though, that we know chlorine is in tap water, it’s easy to conclude that the accumulation of small quantities can wreak havoc on hair health over time.

At Home and on the Scalp—Where Your Hair Health Begins

Your scalp is a very tender part of your body and the most arguably tender form of skin on your body. The skin on your head is rich in blood vessels and contains more hair follicles and more sebaceous glands than any other part.

Hair care experts warn of dry shampoo fanatics not washing their hair enough resulting in build-up—not good for hair growth. Our hair and scalp are the most wash-focused parts of our selves, though, resulting in dry, itchy scalps at least one time in our lives—REALLY not good for hair growth.

Your scalp needs to be loved, massaged and treated with respect. Many cultures stimulate the scalp with methods such as rosemary oil massages, regular supplementation with herbs known to treat hair loss, and avoiding products with toxic chemical ingredients like sulfates.

We need to make sure we are giving our scalp the utmost respect by not pouring toxic substances on it. One way to do this is to take out the chlorine of our water before it hits the head.

Reverse Osmosis: Say Goodbye Forever to Chlorine

A reverse osmosis water filter system for the home separates dissolved inorganic substances, (such as salt), from the water. Remember, chlorine is also an inorganic compound—hurray!

This home reverse osmosis water filter system is rated as one of the best reverse osmosis water filter system with a whopping 3,641 reviews and five full stars on Amazon. Under the $200 price point, it is certified “Gold” (highest ranking) by the Water Quality Association (WQA) and ensures high reliability and low maintenance for many years to come.

The Home Master TMAFC Artesian Full Contact Undersink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System is more expensive ($269.85) but enables users to add minerals into their water—RO water filters really remove everything from water. (Remember, when using RO systems make sure you have a toothpaste with fluoride). Some reverse osmosis filters attach to one sink. You can purchase a whole house reverse osmosis water filter system connecting to every faucet.

Alkaline Water: Your Scalp Says YES, PLEASE

You’ve probably heard of the Alkaline Diet and its internal health benefits. We think that’s true of external bodily health too. Some skin care experts promote acid washing for people born with thick oily skin. Although beneficial for acne on the face, back, etc…never intentionally dry out your scalp with acid or astringent substances.

Alkaline water—the opposite of acidic water—is the best solution to rub into your crown. Water ionizers are great for alkalinizing water while filtering it.

Ionizers are more expensive than RO systems, because they not only remove impurities, but they also enhance your water.

You can easily reap the benefits of positively charged drinking and bath water. These devices are about the size of a toaster oven and attach to your water supply performing controlled low voltage electrolysis on tap water before you drink it or use it.

This Air Water Life Aqua Ionizer has rave reviews and is priced at $1,389.00. The 7 water settings allow you to adjust the alkalinity & add antioxidants—imagine those vitamins on your scalp!

Priced a little lower at $814.94, the Air Water Life Aqua Ionizer Deluxe 7.0 hosts all the benefits of the other ionizer except for the antioxidant infusion.

Heads up: Get Help With Installation

Before purchasing an RO or ionizer and installing it, consider hiring an expert to hook it up for you. These systems (especially RO systems) come with many nuts, bolts, hoses, and other little parts that are pretty overwhelming to look at once removed from the package.

You can also, get your water directly from the cold water line under your sink. For this, you will need to install what’s called a “Tee”. It’s called a Tee, because the piece of hardware is shaped a bit like the letter, T.

Clean Water is only part of the journey to reversing female hair loss

Remember, if your scalp needs a good exfoliation use a good scalp cleanser — shampoo is for your hair.

Just like shampoo, you put it on your head. Focus on getting deep into the surface with tiny, firm circular motions. You’ll stimulate the blood flow while gently lifting dead cells.

Follow this with a high-quality scalp treatment such as a plant-powered oil or extract fortifying your scalp with a protective layer.

And of course, use an outstanding DHT Blocking shampoo and take your supplements!

In the Defense of Your Scalp and Mane

hairfluence gorgeous hair

Chlorine damaged hair is old news to many of us as we think of swimming pools. Now that we understand the mounting effects of daily tap water on our hair follicles, shafts, and scalp, preventive actions are crucial.

Protect your hair from chlorine’s disintegrating consequences and your scalp from its moisture-stripping properties with a better of understanding of your choices for chlorine removal at home.

At the bare minimum, you can reap the benefits of non-toxic, clean water for you and your loved ones’ whole health.

Any experiences with whole house reverse osmosis water filter systems or alkaline water ionizers? Anyone already kicked the chlorine and wants to tell us about it? As always, your comments are golden and I look forward to the feedback.

52 thoughts on “Can Chlorine Cause Hair Loss?”

  1. Wow, very interesting article, I gained a lot of insight about chlorine and other substances in our faucet water (a little scary). I see my girl that cuts and treats my hair on a regular basis and not really having any problems with hair loss yet. I am going to be checking in to the chlorine removal at home. Great information and I really enjoyed the read.

  2. I never knew chlorine could affect the hair and scalp region so much. I definitely want to test the water at my house now and see how our levels look. Thanks so much for the info!

    • Thanks for the comment, Erin. It is really surprising how much damage can be done with things we commonly think of as safe. Luckily, with this water issue, there’s a way around chlorine.

  3. Chlorine is used so regularly we tend to forget that it is also harmful to us as you so clearly explained.
    Is there a certain percentage that doesn’t irritate our hair health?
    I would like to check the concentration at my house and if necessary do something about it.

    • The World Health Organization says that 0.5 mg/L is safe, but it’s really a matter of defining safety. And if your hair or scalp is diseased or vulnerable or under attack elsewhere, it’s nice to remove this harmful barrier from daily contact with your scalp. We are lucky we live in a time where such advance water filtration processes are both affordable and possible.

  4. Wow, what an interesting read! It is amazing what you are unaware of and something as common as chlorine affecting our hair is crazy. I guess that is why it is so important to wash your hair after you get out of the pool? Thanks for this information this is definitely something I will be sharing.

    • Thanks for the comment, Melissa! And yes, washing the chlorine out is super important, although as you can see, if you wash pool water out with tap water, it’s not like your scalp is left chlorine free. these home purification systems make it easy, at least.

  5. Wow! I will be honest I knew it was bad but i didn’t know all the harmful effects chlorine had.
    A lot of people don’t know why the have so many problems with the health of their hair, i know many including myself that no matter how much i took care of it naturally i still struggled, turns out it all starts with the water right?
    Besides hitting the pool one day and feeling the strong side effects after, i took for granted that the water i use at home isn’t great either, i will look into those water filters! ASAP
    Thank you for the useful info!!!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Arlet! It DOES all start with the water. I had that epiphany here in blogland – I often discuss stuff that requires washing (shampoo, etc) but hadn’t yet discussed the water itself. we’re lucky we live in a time where it’s easy to create pure drinking and bathing water at home.

  6. Great Info! We have always wanted to get a filter but I thought they were too expensive. I had no idea they are as low as 200 dollars. One question, how many days a week should you wash your hair?

    • Hi Colleen, thanks for the question. I am a fan of washing infrequently, like 3-4x / week at the most. It’s a balance, though – we want to keep our scalps awash in DHT blockers with our various shampoos and serums, but we also want to avoid stripping our hair of its natural oils.

  7. Wow, interesting stuff. I never realize how scary chlorine in our tap water is. With both my girl and I, washing our hair with tap water definitely raise concerns. Will be looking into alternative for sure.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and yeah, I think everyone’s gonna be getting a new water filter after reading my post! Just a hunch, maybe because none of us like to be poisoned!

  8. HI. I didn’t realise that chlorine was added to water. I think a lot of us don’t know what they put in the water that comes through the tap. Your article certainly made me think and I will need to check with my supplier about what they do in fact add. I try not to wash my hair every day as my mum always said that it stripped the protective oils form the hair and interestingly I saw a programme on TV once where a volunteer had not washed her hair for 6 weeks and it looked like she just stepped out of a salon! I guess nature knows best but I don’t think I’m that brave! Thanks for sharing your research and knowledge.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Very awesome about the 6 weeks of no washing. It can take the scalp quite awhile to adjust to life without shampoo, if you use the “no-poo” method of baking soda and vinegar only, but I’ve never totally gone without. I just might, sounds tempting!

  9. I am very familiar with chlorine in the tap water.

    Several years ago I noticed my hair becoming thinner. I stopped using hair jell and yet it still seemed to be thinning.

    It came to a point to where I was subconsciously combing my fingers through my hair every hour just to count how many lose hairs I can comb out. It was annoying to see at least one to three hairs every time I did it, and like moron I still did it…

    One day when I existed the shower, I did my habitual finger comb through my hair and combed out about 8 hairs. (yes I counted them, it was part of the bad habit.) Then it dawned on me. It was the f@#$ing tap water. Chlorine, Floride, and other harmful crap probably.

    Since then I always rinse my hair after a shower by pouring distilled water over my head. My hair is back to normal now. It is thick and full as you can see on my profile picture. The distilled water trick and some of the products you suggest throughout your website are the only things I ever do to keep my full set of hair.

    However, buying jugs of distilled water all the time gets pretty pricey in the long run. I’m really thinking about installing a distilled water system. But one of these alkaline water systems seems just as appealing if not better. The price is definitely cheaper.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, and all that great empirical proof of tap water being the culprit! So cool that you saw improvement after you switched to rinsing with distlled water. Yeah, if you’re spending $1 here $1 there every day for years, it’s better to just splurge for a reverse osmosis system.

  10. Well that explains why my hair is so much thinner – I moved to a warm climate state and I have a pool with chlorinated water that I like to swim in all the time! I’ve been considering switching to a fresh water pool but didn’t think the benefits outweighed cost / hassle. Now I don’t know – maybe it’s worth it!

    • Thanks for the comment! There’s also the option of wearing a watertight shower cap while you’re swimming, but then your skin still has contact with all that chlorine. Might be something to consider!

  11. I had no idea that chlorine can wreak such havoc on our hair and bodies. I also appreciate the information that dry shampoos are bad. I’ve used it in the past and will think twice before using it again.

    I remember as a child we always went in our neighbors pool in the summer months and my blond hair would turn GREEN from the chlorine, not a pretty picture!!

    Thank you for all of the great hair loss prevention information you are providing. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading. yes, I’ve SEEN the green pool hair before, my blonde stepsisters all had it every summer. Nice to know that’s totally optional now, especially armed with the dangers of chlorine.

  12. Chlorine! I thought it was just in the swimming pools, I might sound dumb saying this but I honestly had no idea that It was in our tap water in our homes as well. In that case, I blame Chlorine for making me bald and I might sue the water company, lol

    • Haha, let me know how that lawsuit goes. But yeah, I think you’re not alone and A LOT of people have no clue that our tap water is so toxic. We can drink clean water all day, but if we’re bathing in dirty water, it doesn’t really matter since our skin is a giant sponge. Luckily these home filtration systems are cheap and effective.

  13. Oh my goodness!! This is great information to know…though its scary. I’ve known for some time how terrible chlorine is for our bodies, but you certainly shed new light on it. Well written post, full of needed information!

    • THanks for the comment. I’m glad more people are learning about the dangers of chlorine for hair loss and what we can do to stop it!

  14. We are so used to having chlorinated water that we think its okay to use that water on our hair because thats the only option we think we have. I was crazy few years ago, I used to bring bottled water to wash my hair but few years later I gave up. I did not think about the option of reverse osmosis, thank you for sharing and I will consider this option.

  15. I totally agree with what you have explained in this article that chlorine can cause hair loss and I personally experienced it. But now I don’t need to worry as I have got your website for best advices, tips and products.

  16. Hi Penelope, wow another thing that’s wrecking my hair! We do live in a toxic world don’t we? This was such an interesting and informative article and it’s something that we can’t get away from as we all have to wash ourselves in the water that comes out of our taps, and this problem had never occurred to me before. But that reverse osmosis filter looks like a fantastic product, I really can’t believe it’s so cheap and affordable.
    I’ve taken to washing my hair only every other day and this has helped it greatly which is probably due to a lot less chlorine getting onto it, which I never thought about before. I also always use a protective mask when I go swimming and this has made a big difference as well. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

    • Good you protect your hair when you swim! The swimming cap needs to make a comeback 🙂 And yes, it’s amazing that this filtration technology is so affordable, we all need it!

  17. Wow, I did not know that chlorine would do this. I always thought it was to help us fend off germs and bacteria. I certainly did not know it would blow up. So are they working on something to replace it with what it was first meant to do but in a safer capacity?

    • Sadly, no. The status quo is the status quo, and the best thing we can do is control what we can change, which is our home water environments. Luckily there are many affordable options, which I laid out in the article. thank you for reading!

  18. I’ve been thinking about getting a reverse osmosis system at my mother’s house. She uses the Pur filters that need to be replaced every 3 months or so while a reverse osmosis system will be good for many years. I also thought that these systems were in the thousands of dollars, so it’s good to see that they are affordable. Having a system like this would give me a lot of peace of mind. Thanks for helping to keep us updated!

    • Thanks for the feedback. I also thought these systems were hugely, out-of-reach expensive, but it’s great to see that they’re now totally doable for most of us. And I agree about the peace of mind, especially now that we know just how awful chlorine is!

  19. That is woo true, chlorine is so damaging for hair. thank you for sharing such a great information especially about Reverse osmosis water, how it is done and how it is good for our hair. Your article is superb, I will share this with others for sure…

    • Thanks for the feedback! I agree, we all need to get away from this tap water poison and embrace home reverse osmosis or alkalinizing systems!

  20. I know chlorine is really bad for our hair. I’ve been looking into reverse osmosis filter, but it’s not the most affordable thing. But I will be getting one sometime in the future. We are living in a toxic world, we got to protect ourselves. I found your article very insightful. I learn new thing every time I come to your website. keep up with the good work,

    • Thanks for the great feedback, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article, even if it is a little disturbing! I agree, these systems are an investment. They were MUCH more expensive even five years ago, so let’s hope with time the prices will continue to drop. I recommended ones that have a lot of features for their price.

  21. Great post!
    Thanks to the chlorinated pool at the summer resort we stay at, plus the time in the sun tubing on the nearby canal, I ended up with a type of blond horse-hair at the back of my head. It would not accept color, it would not accept conditioner, it just would not accept any help except the regular trimming of my hair. Yuk! I has taken 2 years of trims to get most of that coarse hair off of my head!

    I believe in RO, since I am not a big fan of chlorine of any kind, so I will be installing a system when I move into my next home (this year) and I will be looking into the products that you are promoting today. Thank you for the heads up!

    When I worked in a hospital kitchen we had to stop using bleach for disinfecting because it cannot be rinsed off of counters and work surfaces with drinking water. ewwwww. I do not use bleach in my home except to clear drains, which it does better than any other product that I have tried.

    • Have you tried pots of boiling water and waiting? That tends to work for me for unclogging drains. But yeah, it’s fascinating to hear that even at a hospital you guys had to veto the bleach. And WOW that effect on your hair was so intense, two years of trims?! Kinda reminds me of when I’m growing out a bad dye job and vowing to never dye my hair again (ie, right now). Definitely check in with us once you get your RO up and running and let us know how it works out for you!

  22. Hi Penelope
    I have a very low tolerance to chlorine due to eczema and if I swim in chlorinated swimming pools I have a noticeable reaction with my skin breaking out. I find public swimming pools the worst as for public health reasons the amount of chlorine they use is very high. I avoid swimming in public pools for this reason. Home pools and saltwater pools don’t carry anywhere near the levels of the public pools and I don’t struggle as much but I do tend to avoid swimming for this reason. I use a water purifier for all our drinking water but it is just a bench top, ceramic one but it works well and you can definitely smell and taste the difference to the water that comes out of it. One question I have in regards to the products you reviewed is they say under sink so how would that work for a hookup to a shower for the ability to wash with reduced chemicals?

    • I believe you install these at or near the master water switch in your home so it travels to all of the water sources. The idea is to tranform all water in your home, drinking washing and bathing – because our hair loss is impacted by any contact internal or external. It’s good that you have awareness of your reaction with chlorine, sounds like a home filtration system might be a good choice for you even for the amounts in our tap water! Thanks for sharing your perspective and for the comment!

  23. A very educational read. It is sad how many things we are not aware of and we just go with the flow. Like with food, the ingredients in drink water should be more known but we all know that it won’t be beneficial for corporations. Next to adjusting your lifestyle at home and install the systems you mention, people can still do something by contacting their representatives and demand to have high-quality drink water.

    • I agree completely. So many of us are just subject to whatever poor decisions were made by people with power who are not health experts. I’m so glad that RO systems are affordable now, and we can all protect ourselves from future chlorine exposure.

  24. Hi Penelope

    I’ve never heard of a master water switch. I have a water metre that council reads out the front to check my consumption so they can charge me for the water used. However, I don’t know what a master water switch is. Off to do some research now!


  25. I have never given much thought to chlorine and my hair since I haven’t been swimming in a pool in about 15 years. I never really thought about chlorine in the water that we use to wash our hair ( I don’t drink tap water…ever). However, now that I have read your post, I am concerned with it. Both of my girls suffers from eczema and my youngest even has it on her scalp ( or so I thought)…maybe it’s the chlorine that is causing this.
    I will check out one of these products that you recommend on Amazon.
    Thank you so much for sharing this information.

    • Thanks for leaving your thoughts! I wouldn’t be surprised if your daughters experience an improvement in their skin health if you install a reverse osmosis filtration system at home. Come back and let us know what happens!

  26. Hi, this is such a great post about chlorine and hair loss. This is so so true that chlorine can cause hair loss and I have experienced it myself. We usually have chlorinated water where I live and I have lost a lot of hair because of this. Now as I have found this site, I am taking help from here as Penelope always share amazing yet easy to follow hair loss advises,thank you.

  27. Hi Penelope,
    I knew that chlorine is not much beneficial for our hair or skin. But I have never really given to that a real thought. Now that I read this post, I am looking into getting the water filter as my scalp and generally, my skin is very itchy even though I drink enough water through the day. So it might that it is because of the water I use to take shower.
    Thank you for the water filter recommendation and ionizer. I have ionizer option on my hair dryer, will that help?

    • Thanks for the great question! Yes, the ionizer on your dryer will help. And it’s definitely a good idea to filter that crap out of the tap water, especially because doing so is fairly easy and inexpensive these days. Most people see hair and skin challenges vanish after taking this step.

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