10 Perfect Hairstyles For Swimmers With Long Hair

Say goodbye to tangles.

by Miki Hayes and Audrey Noble
Originally Published: 
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Summer is simultaneously the best and worst season for lengthy strands, especially when it comes to finding the best hairstyles for swimming with long hair. There are so many styling options to play with, whether it's loose braids or messy waves. However, lengthy locks only make the summer heat feel hotter, and when it comes to cooling off in a pool or the ocean, tangled tresses are a serious concern. Seriously, it's enough that we have to worry about chlorine and saltwater drying out and damaging our hair, but a knots on top of it all? Not fun. Thankfully, there are some hairstyles that can combat water's wicked ways.

Making sure long hair is not susceptible to being utterly tangled is all about accounting for all of that length — regular ponytails might not cut it. Instead, try a braid or a bun that will secure every hair at the ends, or a hair clip made for thick hair. And for added protection, try applying a leave-in cream or conditioner before styling. This can not only help your style hold a little better, but it will also prevent your hair from absorbing as much chlorinated or saltwater (which can dry it out and make tangles even worse). The next time you need a cute pool hairstyle, try one of these simple looks that are perfect for swimming and staving off annoying knots.

1. French Braid

Hairstylist Robin Groover says the best hairstyle for swimming with long hair is one long braid. Something like the French braid, which is such a classic, will secure your hair from the crown of your head all the way down. Doing it on your own is pretty simple as well.

The basic idea of a French braid is to add hair as you braid downward. First, you gather your hair at the top (like you’re about to do a half-up half-down style) and then section hair off in three parts. Then start to normally braid those three sections once. After, you’ll want to grab a section of hair from one side of your head and incorporate it into the braid. Repeat on the other side. (If you need more of a visual, here’s a trusty how-to guide).

2. Double French Braid

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Groover says two braids work well if the hair is thick. (Plus, two is better than one. And if you've mastered the reverse French braid, it's a little easier to make tighter braids that won't budge). “The braids will keep the hair in place while swimming,” she explains. She recommends using a leave-in conditioner before styling and to secure ends with a protective elastic band.

3. Fishtail Braid

If you're not too worried about your braid becoming looser, but just want your hair out of your face, the fishtail is the way to go. Plus, it's so beach-appropriate.

Celebrity hairstylist Annagjid "Kee" Taylor also emphasizes the importance of using a leave-in conditioner before getting in the water. “ This helps provide a protective barrier between your strands and the chemicals and the elements,” she says. She recommends trying something like the Daily Dose Miracle Moisture Leave In-Conditioner. But she says you can also look for anything with ingredients that you know to be super moisturizing, like shea butter and oils.

4. Bubble Ponytail

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Not ready to give up that pony? No problem. Channel your inner Disney princess and make Jasmine proud by simply securing your ponytail in sections along the length for a bubble ponytail. This will ensure that your strands are not fraternizing too much.

5. Topknot

Although it might seem little counterintuitive, tight buns can actually do a better job warding off water-induced tangles than braids. Just make sure to throw in a few bobby pins so it's really secure.

Groover is also a fan of the topknot and says you can style your hair into a really high bun with braided ends; it looks great and wears well with little to no tangling.

6. Braided Bun

For a little flair and added control, try an upside-down braid into a bun. Best of both worlds, right?

This pool hairstyle may seem more complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Simply flip your head down and start braiding from nape of your neck. Once you hit about halfway with your braid, secure it with a tie and then gather the rest of your hair into a bun. Or you can choose from one the many braided buns in this handy guide that suits you best. Any one of these will keep long hair from tangling while swimming.

7. A Protective Hairstyle With A Swim Cap

According to Taylor, swim caps are one of the best ways to keep long hair from tangling while swimming.

Something like Soul Cap is a swim cap specifically designed for long, voluminous natural hair and will protect afros, cornrows, locs, and other hairstyles from chlorine and help keep long hair from getting tangled while swimming.

8. Box Braids

For naturally curly and coily hair, Taylor recommends a protective style like braids. “[These] are great for when you're planning on swimming, because you don't have to worry about detangling right after,” she says.

9. Dragon Braid

For those who aren’t the best braiders, a “dragon” style braid is easier to execute. Grab a handful of hair ties (plus a clip to help keep your strands out of the way while you work) and follow TikToker @natalieae_david’s comprehensive tutorial.

10. Passion Twists Or Faux Locs

If you want to opt for a protective style that doesn’t involve braids, opt for faux locs or passion twists that will keep your natural hair protected while you swim.

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