I recently dyed my hair periwinkle and I LOVE IT! But swim team starts back up soon, and I’m really worried about the chlorine stripping all the color away. Do you have any advice on how to protect my hair? —Hana, 15, California

Periwinkle hair is awesome. I bet you look like an amazing flower. That’s a difficult color to achieve, too! I frequently color my hair pastel shades, so believe me, I know. Here’s me with a recent pink dye job:

Photo by Kimi Selfridge.

Photo by Kimi Selfridge.

Though they’re glorious and beautiful, the upkeep for pastels is a little more serious than with brighter colors (you can throw some Atomic Turquoise on your head straight out of the jar and go, you know?). It’s totally worth it, though, so here are my tried-and-true zany-color maintenance tips.

  • Use a leave-in conditioner before you hit the pool. There are leave-in conditioners specifically made for color treated hair, but if you’re more into natural products, coconut or grapeseed oils are great for bleached, porous hair.

    The goal is to create a moisture barrier between your hair and the chlorine. Failing this, rinse off in the shower or dunk your head in a sink before taking a swim. If your hair is already saturated, it won’t suck up as much water from the pool! Rinse your hair out when you’re done, too.

  • Be sparing with chemicals and styling. OK, the chlorine in the pool is (potentially) unavoidable, but what you use in the shower is equally crucial! Chemicals in some shampoos and conditioners will straight-up strip the color from your hair: Prell, or other clarifying shampoos, and anti-dandruff products like Head and Shoulders will suck the color right out of your locks. (Hint: This is useful if you ever over-saturate your pastel color when you’re touching up. If you get too neon by accident, clarifying shampoo or dish soap can lighten your hair a few shades in one shower!)

    Any styling product that contains alcohol (hairspray, gel, mousse) will dry your hair out, which means it will want to suck up whatever moisture it can, including pool water. Same goes for heat styling: Blowdrying and straightening and curling irons will dry out your hair, especially if you use them in conjunction with alcohol-based products. The goal is to keep your hair super moisturized at all times!

  • Make a special conditioner mix to keep your color fresh. Add a few tablespoons of dye to a bottle of nice conditioner and use it every time you wash your hair. It will deposit a little bit of color without requiring a full-head touch-up.
  • Try a purple shampoo. In addition to turning your ends green, the chlorine in the pool can turn your hair all sorts of weird brassy yellow colors. Products like Clairol Shimmerlights—or the Generic Value Products brand you can get at Sally Beauty Supply, which is basically the same thing but waaaaay cheaper, are designed to counteract yellow tones in bleached hair. (I’m assuming you had to bleach your hair to get a periwinkle pastel color.) You wash your hair with this neon purple goop, then let the bubbles sit on your head for three to five minutes. This keeps your hair from looking brassy and makes it easier to dye over when you touch up your overall color, since it’ll match what’s on your head more closely.

If all else fails, here’s a treasure trove of incredible vintage swim caps on Etsy. I also love this one that I found on eBay for under $20:

Aquapro bathing cap, $18, eBay.

Aquapro bathing cap, $18, eBay.

Can’t you just imagine a technicolor 1960s movie mermaid popping up out of a pool, taking off a crazy floral swim cap and shaking out her periwinkle locks from underneath? Trés badass, Hana. —Meredith