Will hair and pools ever mix? Photo: Getty Images

Oh, our poor hair. Not only can summertime's heat, humidity and sun do a number on our strands, the very thing we use to cool off -- swimming -- can make it even worse. Beside doggie-paddling with our heads above water like our mothers did, what's a pool-loving, hair-loving girl to do?

Chlorine found in pools not only dries out the hair, it can make it brittle -- especially on colored or highlighted hair warns Amina Bouchouirab, a color and treatment specialist at New York City's Pierre Michel Salon. And yes, blonde hair really can turn green.

"Oxidized metals (think of copper turning metal green) in the water bind to the protein in the hair shaft and deposit their color therefore turning blonde hair a green tint," she says. "Obviously blondes are more prone to the color changing since their hair is more over-processed and takes to color faster."

Swimcaps will protect strands from drying chlorine. Photo: Getty Images



But lighter-haired gals aren't the only ones who need to watch out. Chlorine may not affect the hue of brunettes, redheads and gray hair as much, but it still dries out their strands.

"The best thing all women can do is use a conditioning treatment such as Lazartigue Shea Butter before you go swimming and keep it in your hair while you swim," advises Bouchouirab. "By doing this, the conditioner seals the cuticle of the hair, preventing the chlorine from affecting it in such an abrasive manner."

In between swims, opt for a shampoo that's formulated to detoxify your hair of chlorine, removing any oxidized metals that may be left in the hair. You should also periodically use a deep conditioner such as Angela Cosmai's Vanilla Bean Deep Conditioner to maintain hair's natural shine. Once summer is over, visit your salon for a conditioning treatment to counteract any damage from your summertime fun.

The other thing women should do -- and no, it's not a fashion faux pas -- is wear a swim cap to protect your color.

For beach lovers, while you should still cover your hair when soaking up the rays, Bouchouirab says salt water is not as damaging to our lovely locks. "It does not effect hair by changing the color like chlorine does, but it does dry the hair out," she says. "Whenever you are out in the sun for an extended period of time, you should be using a protective product like Phyto's Sunveil Spray."

If you're looking for a more natural method to rid your hair of harsh chlorine and chemicals, authors Lauren and Janice Cox have an environmentally-friendly baking soda treatment from their book, "EcoBeauty -- Scrubs, Rubs, Masks, and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends," that will help refresh and restore your hair:

Ingredients:
1 /4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon mild shampoo or liquid soap

Directions:
Stir all of the ingredients together until well mixed. To use, wet your hair, apply the entire mixture, then massage it into your hair and scalp, making sure the ends of your hair are coated. Put on a shower cap or cover your hair with plastic wrap and leave the treatment on for 30 minutes. Then rinse your hair well and shampoo and condition as usual.

"Wetting your hair with fresh water before you swim will also keep it from soaking up too much chlorine water," says Cox. "Always remember to rinse your hair well after swimming. You may have to bring a bottle of fresh water with you to the pool for just this reason."

While you're thinking about swimming, tell us, would you wear this bikini?