Do you know any black women who swim regularly? I doubt it. After some highly scientific research, I deduced that black women go swimming on average two times a year, not counting holidays. One friend tells me she last swam when she was 14. She's 28. However, another says she swims all the time at her gym, ruining my theory, until she calls me back to confess that actually she means she sits in the Jacuzzi. The only time I swam on a regular basis was during the five years I shaved my hair. Wearing a cap is an option if you've had your hair straightened, but have you tried to pull one on over an Afro? Sadly, I'm not alone in my issues with swimming. "Wouldn't it be lovely for children with Afro hair to throw themselves into the pool without worrying about their hair?" writes a reader. Wouldn't it just?
Most of the year I don't miss swimming, but what's a girl to do on holiday? There are three approaches you can take. First, you can be one of those pathetic women who refuses to go in the water for fear of ruining her looks. Or you can try to protect your hair from the combined effects of sunshine, salt water and chlorine, or you can repair the damage after the event.
Obviously, option one is ruled out. So what about the other two? Salt and chlorine dehydrate hair, causing dryness, brittleness and breakage. If you're going to try to stop that happening, you need a waterproof product. I have yet to find an Afro haircare range that includes such products but it is worth investing in a good swim cream from either Redken (Sun Shape Swim Cream), Kérastase (Gelee Aqua Proof) or Speedo (Protek Performance Duo-Phase Hair Protection, out next month).
Other non-waterproof styling products that protect from the sun (but have to be applied after every dip) are also worth the money. Moisturising Sun Gel and High Protection Sun Oil from Phyto Phytoplage are great on natural and straightened hair respectively. As is Protection Conditioning Gel from the LC2 range (by Goldwell), which will leave you with soft curls all holiday.