I’ll admit it: This product review was inspired by my vanity. Last Fall, when I made the transition from swimming in open water to the pool, I began to worry about what effect the chlorine would have on my newly color-treated hair. Additionally, the more I swam in the pool, the more I noticed my skin was drying out.
A Google search of chlorine-removal products made me stumble across SwimSpray, and I was intrigued. Invented in 2010 by Dr. Andrew Chadeayne—a chemist and long-time swimmer—SwimSpray claims to be one of the most effective chlorine removal products on the market.
Chadeayne was inspired to develop SwimSpray when his co-workers began to complain about the “chemical smell” coming from his office. “I was swimming in the morning before work, and then I would ride my bike over to the office,” he explained. “I would shower after swim practice at the pool and then again at the office. Throughout the course of my workday, I would ooze chlorine.”
Beyond the social stigma of his chlorine odor problem, an even bigger concern for Chadeayne was the long-term health impact of the chemical being bonded to his skin. In search of an effective and natural way to neutralize the chlorine, he applied his scientific knowledge to the problem and began to experiment with different chemicals. “When I found that Vitamin C was such a useful molecule on paper and then tried it in practice, it was the clear winner,” he said.
The resulting product was SwimSpray, a formulated ratio of Vitamin C, which, according to Chadeayne, is specifically balanced to be mild while completely neutralizing chlorine from the skin and hair. The product is all natural, fragrance free, and can be combined with any soap or shampoo.
AFM enlisted the help of several Master’s swimmers from Pure Austin Coaching to try out SwimSpray. Five swimmers participated: three women and two men. All of the testers swam at least three times per week and had similar complaints about the side effects of chlorine: dry, itchy skin; lingering chlorine odor; dull hair; and faded hair color.
None of the testers had ever tried a chlorine removal product before, with the exception of Tester 2, who reported having used a popular chlorine removal shampoo in the past.
Testers were each given a sample bottle of SwimSpray and were asked to use it for one to two weeks, or until they ran out of product.
The testers all agreed that application of the product was simple: Rinse off in the shower, apply SwimSpray (via its spray bottle), then shower as normal. Four out of the five testers, however, reported some confusion about how much SwimSpray to apply. Tester 1 mentioned that she had visited the SwimSpray website to get a better idea of how to use the product and was satisfied with the directions she received there. Tester 2 utilized her entire sample bottle within two applications, but expressed concern that she had applied the product too liberally. Tester 4 noted that he had also applied the product liberally, uncertain whether he was supposed to feel or smell a reaction. Tester 5 reported that his sample lasted more than six applications, but admitted that he was unsure whether he had applied enough of the product, particularly to his back, where he typically experiences the most chlorine-related itching after a swim.
None of the testers noticed any special reaction (e.g., burning, tingling, discoloration) after applying the product; however, Testers 1 and 2 both observed a “metallic” smell. This smell disappeared for both testers after rinsing off.
Opinions about the effectiveness of SwimSpray among the participants were mixed.
Testers 1, 2, and 3 (all female) indicated that after using SwimSpray, they no longer noticed the lingering smell of chlorine. Furthermore, Tester 3 said that her skin felt less itchy.
Testers 1 and 2 were enthusiastic about the effects of using SwimSpray on their hair. Both reported it being softer and more manageable; Tester 2 even stated, “Those were particularly good hair days.” Both women also felt like the product was helping to protect their investment—their color-treated hair—from fading too fast.
The male participants (Testers 4 and 5) reported no noticeable difference after using SwimSpray. Tester 5 theorized that he might not have applied enough of the product, whereas Tester 4 felt that soap and water were more effective.
Testers 1, 2, and 3 said they would use SwimSpray on a regular basis, with Tester 3 making the caveat that it would need to be affordable. Tester 2 stated that she would use the product only for her hair. All three said they would recommend the product to a friend.
Testers 4 and 5 stated that they would not continue to use SwimSpray, although Tester 5 noted that he was a “minimalist” who was always in a hurry and did not typically spend money on hair and skin care. He added that he would still recommend SwimSpray to a friend (“assuming it’s working for others”). Tester 4 said that although he would not continue to use SwimSpray or recommend to a friend, he would consider trying a soap or shampoo version of the product.
I had the opportunity to follow up with Dr. Chadeayne about our testers’ comments. He was unsurprised by the female testers having a more positive reaction to the product than the men: “Women are generally more conscious of hair and skin health than men,” he chuckled.
Chadeayne admitted that there can be some initial confusion about how much SwimSpray to apply, since no two users are the same. “We tell people on average [to apply] about 30 sprays, but a bald guy is going to use less than a long-haired woman,” he explained. “The easiest thing to do is spray yourself with 30 sprays of SwimSpray and then use your soap/shampoo to rub it around.” The SwimSpray website also contains more information and a link to an instructional video about product use.
Addressing the “metallic” smell noted by two of the testers, Chadeayne explained, “Vitamin C is an all-natural chemical, so you end up with natural oxidation…think about apples that turn brown.” Chadeayne stressed that the smell is simply a byproduct of this natural process and (as was noted by the testers) that the smell washes away once the product is rinsed from the skin.
Chadeayne was also unsurprised by the positive feedback from the female testers about the effects of SwimSpray on their hair. “Everything that is bad for your hair is an oxidant: Free radicals, bad air, smog, all that stuff,” he said. According to Chadeayne, because Swim Spray contains antioxidants naturally, it has a noticeable repairing effect on the hair. He asserted that, in addition to repairing the hair, the product can help swimmers preserve their colored or otherwise chemically treated hair by neutralizing the chlorine: “If you’re going to get your hair chemically treated, it’s unbelievably important to get the chlorine out of your hair; otherwise, what happens is…the chemicals they use to treat your hair will react with the chlorine and result with horrible discoloration, or it messes with the color so it’s not as rich as you want it to be. [The chlorine residue] will make perming or styling less effective.”
Responding to our testers’ mixed opinions about whether they would continue to use SwimSpray or recommend it to a friend, Chadeayne said that (much to the chagrin of their product marketing team) many SwimSpray users tend to notice its effectiveness when they stop using it and the effects of chlorine exposure come back. “Most people kind of notice [the positive effects of using SwimSpray] in the beginning,” he said. “If you smell yourself, you’ll notice you don’t smell like chlorine. The benefits seem to take several days to a week or so [to appear]…but the most dramatic effect is not using it.”
With Memorial Day having just marked the unofficial arrival of summer, many Austinites will be flocking to their local pools for some relief from the increasingly hot temperatures. Although our AFM testers were divided on the benefits of SwimSpray, swimmers who find themselves suffering from chlorine odor and dry skin may find the product affordable enough ($12.95 plus shipping for a 4-ounce bottle; about 20 uses)—and worth their while—to try.
Comment below with your favorite swim workout to win your own bottle of Swim Spray along with an AquaJogger and accessories -- Good luck!
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