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Does Chlorine Help Acne? (Why It’s a Bad Idea)

When summer arrives, there's nothing quite like a refreshing swim in a chlorinated pool. However, if you have acne-prone skin, you might wonder, does chlorine help acne?

Some swear by the positive effects of chlorine on their skin, claiming clearer skin after a swim. However, the relationship between acne and chlorine is much more complex than it seems.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Chlorine in swimming pools can kill acne-causing bacteria, but it also strips the skin of its natural oils and good bacteria, potentially leading to more acne in the long run.

  • Prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause skin dryness, irritation, and even discoloration, which can worsen acne.

  • You can protect your skin from the harmful effects of chlorine by showering before and after swimming, applying a water-resistant barrier, staying hydrated.

  • Implementing a quality skincare routine with products like Exposed Skin Care can help manage acne, particularly for those frequently swimming in chlorinated pools, thanks to its antibacterial properties and suitability for sensitive skin.

Image of girl swimming in chlorinated pool

Understanding Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when the sebaceous glands produce too much oil, leading to clogged pores. Bacteria can then grow in these pores, resulting in inflammation and acne breakouts. Multiple factors can contribute to acne, including hormonal changes, diet, stress, and certain skincare products. But what about chlorine? How does this chemical found in pool water affect acne?

Does Chlorine Help Acne or Make It Worse?

Chlorine is a chemical widely used in swimming pools to kill bacteria and viruses, ensuring the water is safe for swimming. It’s an effective disinfectant, and because bacteria partially cause acne, you might assume that chlorine would be beneficial for acne-prone skin. However, this assumption can be misleading.

Chlorine can kill the bacteria causing your acne, potentially giving clearer skin after a swimming session. However, it's crucial to remember that chlorine isn't selective. It destroys the good and bad bacteria making up your skin's microbiome.

Your skin needs a balance of bacteria to maintain its health. When you strip the skin of its natural oils and good bacteria, it can cause your sebaceous glands to go into overdrive, resulting in oilier skin and possibly leading to more acne breakouts. Moreover, extended periods of exposure to chlorine can lead to dryness and irritation, further exacerbating acne.

Chlorine Dries Out Your Skin

One of the immediate effects of chlorine on your skin is dryness. Chlorine strips your skin of natural oils, which can cause it to dry out and become flaky. This dryness can further irritate acne-prone skin, worsening existing breakouts and potentially leading to new ones.

Measurement of chlorinated pools pH level

Chlorine Can Lead to Irritation and Dermatitis

Prolonged exposure to chlorine can lead to a rash known as a 'swimmer's itch.' It's a type of dermatitis characterized by red, itchy skin. If you have acne-prone skin, this irritation can make your acne worse.

Chlorine and Skin Discoloration

Exposure to chlorine can also lead to skin discoloration. While this doesn't directly affect acne, it's an unwanted side effect for many swimmers.

How to Protect Your Skin from Chlorine

It’s apparent that spending time in chlorinated water has its downsides, especially if you have sensitive skin. However, there are steps you can take to protect your skin from the harsh effects of chlorine.

Shower Before and After Swimming

By showering before you swim, you can help prevent chlorine from seeping into your skin. A quick rinse afterward will help wash off any lingering chlorine. Use a gentle cleanser to help remove the chlorine from your skin without causing further dryness.

Woman showering after swimming

Apply a Water-Resistant Barrier

Before diving into the pool, apply a water-resistant cream or lotion layer. This can act as a barrier between your skin and the chlorinated water, reducing the amount of chlorine your skin absorbs.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water won't directly protect your skin from chlorine, but overall hydration plays a significant role in skin health. A well-hydrated body can better handle the drying effects of chlorine.

Moisturize Immediately After Swimming

After washing the chlorine off your skin, apply a nourishing moisturizer. This will help replenish any moisture lost during your swim and combat the drying effects of chlorine.

Does Swimming in a Saltwater Pool Help Acne?

While we've discussed swimming in a chlorinated pool, it's worth mentioning saltwater pools. Saltwater is generally gentler on the skin than chlorine. Some people with acne have reported clearer skin after swimming in the sea, which could suggest that saltwater may be beneficial for acne. However, more research is needed to substantiate this claim.

The Benefits of Using Exposed Skin Care for Acne Management

When combating chlorine's impact on your skin, implementing a high-quality skincare routine is essential. Exposed Skin Care is a highly recommended solution to help clear acne and boost overall skin health, especially if you frequently swim in a chlorinated pool.

Exposed Skin Care Ultimate Kit

Exposed Skin Care offers several advantages:

  • Antibacterial Benefits: The products contain potent antibacterial agents that can actually help manage the bacteria making up your skin, especially after swimming in chlorine.

  • Reduction of Breakouts: It helps reduce acne by removing impurities and excess oil that can clog pores, potentially leading to breakouts.

  • Topical Solutions: This line offers topical treatments that work to reduce inflammation and redness associated with acne, providing relief from itchiness and discomfort.

  • Suitable for Sensitive Skin: The skincare line is formulated to be gentle enough for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin, which can be especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of chlorine.

By integrating Exposed Skin Care into your routine, you can help protect your skin from the potential negative effects of chlorine exposure while helping to clear existing acne. Don't forget to rinse off immediately after getting out of the pool to prevent any chlorine-induced skin issues further.


The relationship between acne and chlorine is multifaceted, and understanding this can be the key to maintaining healthy skin. While chlorine can destroy acne-causing bacteria, its potential side effects, such as dryness, irritation, and disruption of the skin's natural microbiome, can contribute to more acne over time. But that doesn't mean those with acne-prone skin need to forego the enjoyment of a refreshing swim.

Through protective measures like pre and post-swim showers, application of water-resistant barriers, proper hydration, the negative effects of chlorine on the skin can be minimized. Most importantly, implementing a comprehensive skincare routine is critical. Products like Exposed Skin Care, with their antibacterial properties and suitability for sensitive skin, can significantly manage acne, even amidst frequent swims in chlorinated pools.

While everyone's skin responds differently, understanding these dynamics can empower you to take better control of your skin health, enabling you to enjoy the benefits of swimming without sacrificing the wellness of your skin.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Does swimming in a chlorinated pool help with acne?

While chlorine can kill bacteria, including those that cause acne, it also strips your skin of its natural oils and good bacteria. This can disrupt your skin's natural balance, potentially leading to more acne in the long run. Therefore, swimming in a chlorinated pool might not be the best solution for acne.

Q2: Can chlorine make acne worse?

Yes, chlorine can potentially make acne worse. It can dry out your skin, irritate it, and disrupt your skin's natural microbiome, which can all contribute to worsening acne.

Q3: How can I protect my skin from chlorine?

There are several ways to protect your skin from chlorine. You can shower before and after swimming, apply a water-resistant barrier, stay hydrated, and moisturize your skin immediately after swimming.

Q4: Are saltwater pools better for acne than chlorinated pools?

Saltwater is gentler on the skin than chlorine, and some people have reported clearer skin after swimming in saltwater. However, more research is needed to confirm whether saltwater pools are better for acne than chlorinated pools.