Barrier Cream: How To Protect Your Skin In Pool Water

Annette K. Brown

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Summer is the season for sunbathing and swimming. The two go hand-in-hand like campfires and s’mores. But for avid swimmers or those with sensitive skin, splashing around can leave you feeling dry and itchy.

While we need chemicals like bromine and chlorine to kill germs, they can wreak havoc on our soft, supple skin. In addition, pool water may affect the pH level of our skin because properly balanced pools contain pH levels between 7.3. and 7.6, which means the water is slightly alkaline.

To put that into perspective, the body’s optimum pH levels range from 4.7 to 5.75, meaning it’s more acidic. If the skin is too alkaline, it becomes drier and more sensitive. The skin’s barrier, also known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping moisture and essential lipids in and bacteria and toxins out.

To protect the skin from the itchy effects of pool water and spa chlorine, you can apply a barrier cream or ointment. This helps to protect and moisturize it. Barrier creams are also effective for eczema because they contain lipids and ceramides, which are naturally occurring substances on healthy skin.

Rinsing off with clean water immediately after swimming can help remove the chemicals, too. There are even body washes designed to help lift bromine and chlorine off the skin, which are more effective than using water alone.

To help get you started safeguarding yourself from pool water, here are five highly rated products available on Amazon.

Amazon

Get swim-ready with this $14.99 barrier cream that protects your skin against the negative effects of chemicals that can cause itchiness and redness. Using natural ingredients like organic aloe leaf juice, shea butter, jojoba seed oil and primrose oil, this blend helps shield the skin from can cause dryness and rashes. The formula is also rated reef-safe, so none of its ingredients are toxic to corals or marine life. One woman, who said it’s a new staple of her swim bag, called it “the product you didn’t know you needed” and said you only need a light layer.

Another woman on Amazon raved, “We used this for the kids all summer 2020 after I noticed my younger one was getting a rash after pool time (he has sensitive skin) … It worked like a charm! No rash, no itching, no redness – nothing! We swam a few times a week all summer without any issues ever again! Highly recommend!”

Amazon

This pre-swim body cream uses vitamin C and beeswax to neutralize chlorine and create an extra layer of protection. Jamaican black castor oil, cocoa butter and shea replenish skin’s moisture. Backed by a guarantee, this small business offers a 100% lifetime satisfaction guarantee that you likely won’t need, if the Amazon reviews are any indication.

One woman who swims in a heavily chlorinated club pool six days a week said, “This product SAVED me!” She claims she uses it before swimming, as a barrier cream, and after, as a moisturizer. Get it now for $13.99.

Amazon

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast B5, a barrier cream for the face and body, works as a rich cream but leaves a non-greasy finish. It’s fragrance-free, non-sticky and suitable for all types of skin, including sensitive. Formulated with shea butter, vitamin B5, glycerin and more, the brand says this product has been recommended by 90,000 dermatologists worldwide and is accepted by the National Eczema Association.

Several reviewers have mentioned that a little goes a long way, and it’s earned a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from thousands at Amazon so far. You can buy it for $14.99.

Amazon

The less chlorine that remains on the skin after showering, the less it can irritate you. TriSwim body wash removes chemicals like chlorine, bromine, salt water and hard water minerals for after-swim care. Formulated with hydrating elements like aloe vera, vitamin E and provitamin B5, it’s perfect for swimmers and athletes as it removes chlorine residue while moisturizing.

It’s paraben- and gluten-free and safe for everyday use. Reviewers have raved about this wash, saying it’s “absolutely worth buying” and others say they “no longer smell like chemicals after a swim.” It’s currently available for $15.48.

Amazon

The 97.55% naturally made DermaSwim Pre-Swimming Lotion protects skin against chlorine and bromine found in swimming pools and hot tubs. It can be used before use as a barrier cream or as a post-swim lotion. It’s also made in America. It sells for $14.95 and has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from hundreds of users.

One woman said she wished she’d found it sooner because she’s been allergic to chlorine her entire life. She said, “I never thought I’d find anything to help until this! It’s super simple … you put on a little before you swim, but let it sink in before you dive in! I didn’t need to reapply for the entire day, it stayed on!”

With proper before and after skincare, it’s possible to enjoy a day at the pool without any negative side effects. (Just don’t forget to slather on the best sunscreen, too.)

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