Swimming provides me with one of my favourite moments. As I kick off from the wall (sometimes having just done a tumble turn, if I’m showing off) I glide through the water pretending I’m a dolphin in a swimming gala, beating all the other dolphins as other sea life (but not sharks) cheer me on in awe at my swimming prowess.
But - chlorine. Great for killing the bacteria floating in the pool. Not so great for hair and skin. I’ve researched the best in vegan products for swimmers - all you have to do is channel your inner dolphin.
This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all these products!
Rub a dollop of coconut oil through your hair. This acts as a barrier, protecting your hair from the upcoming chlorine hit.
My fave is from the Coconut Merchant, because I like the packaging.
You could further protect your tresses by wearing a swimming cap, but I haven’t taken the plunge. Although I bet it’d make me swim faster, so maybe I should. Vanity Vs Winning The Swimming Gala I'm Already Winning In My Head Against Imaginary Dolphins. Hmm... something to ponder.
Pools request we shower before we swim. I never knew why, I presumed it was for their benefit, perhaps to rinse off my germs. I’d wander under the shower in a half-arsed fashion. Turns out, clean water acts as a barrier between your skin and the chemicals you’re about to swim in. So have a good old rinse. Get your skin super wet with clean water.
Now, swim swim swim, like a dolphin!
You've just had a chemical bath, so it's time to shower.
Us vegans can’t buy any old product to help restore some shine to our hair, rub off the chlorine stench and cleanse our face, can we? No sir. So what’s out there for us?
When I was a keen swimmer in my teens I used to use a Boots brand shampoo called Sun, Swim and Gym which smelled lovely. I hoped it’d be vegan so I could carry on using it now I’m making more ethical choices.
I emailed Boots to ask.
The race was on. Who’d write back first? How reasonable were their prices? Was their customer service friendly and witty - a surefire way to secure my loyalty?
As everything’s a competition even when it’s not, I awaited news excitedly wondering who was going to win.
First past the post was... Green People!
I’d read on their website that the Quinoa and Artichoke Shampoo and Conditioner “contain an extract from artichoke leaves that repairs the damage caused by chlorinated water, reseals the surface of the hair to reduce porosity and restores shine to damaged hair.”
Sounded good. I wanted clarification of vegan credentials and advice about skincare too, specifically for rosacea (my spell checker wants to change that to 'aerospace' - brilliant. But no, it's just red, spotty, miserable skin). Their friendly and informative reply went to town on what rosacea is (not space flight technology, as it turns out) what factors can cause it and what irritating ingredients to avoid - fragrance, SLS and alcohol - in my skincare regime. They provided a long list of foods known to cause a flare up too - such as avocados. Nooooo! After all these years, has my avocado addiction been the root cause of all my face evil?!
The quinoa and artichoke haircare products are indeed vegan. Good work Green Peeps, ten points!
Plus, they recommended the following organic skin care regime, all vegan:
· Cleanse with Neutral/Scent Free Cleanser
· Moisturise with Neutral/Scent Free 24 Hour Cream
A considered and thorough response that'll cost ya:
Quinoa and Artichoke Shampoo £14.95
Quinoa and Artichoke conditioner £14.95
Total basket: £61.90 - an expensive swim. But the cleanser and moisturiser are kind to my face, always a delight when most products make my skin go loco. The shampoo and conditioner are fab too, I'm having great hair days.
Second to respond was Lush, three hours after Green People.
Nathan, of Lush, even asked questions about the practicalities of carrying cosmetics around if I’m off swimming. We got into a right old to and fro. I liked it.
NOTE: 2018 update! A kind reader has emailed me to point out that American Cream is not vegan. Nathan of Lush needs to get his facts straight! It has honey in it. I'll leave the notes and pictures below but be warned. Lush do, of course, have many vegan friendly alternatives.
Nathan of Lush continued:
Thank you Nathan. I bought:
I Love Juicy £5.75
American Cream £4.95
Angels On Bare Skin Facial Cleanser £7.25
Dream Cream £12.95
Total basket: £45.85 - ouch, but I want to pimp my swim.
FYI on the price of his other suggestions: Rehab £5.75 Cynthia Sylvia Stout £4.75 Kalamazoo £6.75 Full Of Grace £8.25 African Paradise £24.95 Ros Argan £16.50
I love Lush and have been enjoying almost all of the products I bought for this swimathon. However the I Love Juicy shampoo kind of smells like paint stripper. I prefer the scent of coconuts and mangoes. I wouldn’t buy it again.
On the flip side, never have I ever found a moisturiser as wonderful as Celestial. I love the consistency and the smell and even my problem-prone skin likes it. I buy it again and again.
Just one hour after Lush, I received a response from Jason Organics.
They suggested Biotin restorative shampoo and conditioner which:
For the face, they suggested Vitamin K cream for moisturiser (£19.99) and JASON coconut oil (£11.99) as a gentle cleanser.
Then they gave me a code for receiving 10% off my first purchase AND threw in a free conditioner. That’s the kind of customer service I like!
Biotin restorative shampoo £6.49
Biotin restorative conditioner £6.49
Vitamin K cream £19.99
Basket total: £32.97 AND a discount AND an extra bottle of conditioner. BOOM!
I didn’t bother buying their coconut oil because I have enough of that knocking about at home already. Theirs is £11.99 if you are in the market.
I love and recommend the shampoo and conditioner. But I don’t like the consistency of the Vitamin K cream and for £20 I want to be dazzled.
Now where the bloody hell were Boots?
EIGHT DAYS later - Boots responded. All I wanted to know was if their Sun Sea and Swim range was vegan.
A lengthy but curious reply:
All well and good, but I felt that this was not directly answering my question, more beating around the vegan bush. I replied:
"So you don't test on animals, but are any of the ingredients derived from animal product? ie. is the product I was inquiring about vegan friendly?"
To which they eventually responded:
It’s up to each individual to decide if they want to buy Boots products if Boots can’t conform to Vegan Society rules. I’d rather give my money to companies who can.
Now for my awards ceremony:
Green People won quickest response and their fragrance-free skincare has been kind to my skin. With a discount code and a freebie, Jason won my easily lured loyalty.
Lush won friendliest and most thorough response. But as I regularly buy their Celestial moisturiser, it does rankle that I have to pay P&P. Most companies incorporate that cost into the price of the products, so the consumer can delight in thinking the postage is free. Do me a favour Lush!
Boots really brought up the rear. I for one can plod along swimmingly without their products.
All vegan companies deserve gold medals so I shall rotate between Green People, Lush and Jason Organics - what a privilege to have so many great products to choose from. I'll leave Boots on the dusty old boot rack of times gone by.