Does Chlorine Help Acne?

I’ve had several readers with sensitive skin ask me if they should stay away from chlorinated pools. Many people with sensitive skin believe the chlorine and chemicals will irritate their skin or cause acne breakouts. The truth is swimming in a chlorinated pool can actually decrease acne breakouts if you have oily skin.

I suffered from acne breakouts for over 10 years, and my skin was always the clearest during the summer months. Looking back, I think there is a high chance that regularly swimming helped clear my skin. 

If you are constantly suffering from acne breakouts due to oily skin or bacterial infections, there is a good chance that swimming in a chlorinated pool will help reduce your acne in the short term. However, prolonged exposure to chlorine can dry out your skin and exacerbate acne breakouts over the long term. Ultimately, the best way to clear acne breakouts is by following the proper diet detailed in the clear skin resource kit.

This article will explain precisely how chlorine affects your skin and what steps you can take to keep your skin healthy and moisturized during pool time.

What is Chlorine?

Chlorine is a gaseous element most commonly used as a disinfectant chemical. It kills microorganisms and bacteria, so it is frequently used in pools to sanitize water. 

It is also used to bleach products like paper. Chlorine is a toxic chemical that can make you sick if you ingest it. However, swimming in chlorinated water is perfectly safe.

How Chlorine Impacts Skin Health

Chlorine can impact your skin health in several ways. Basically, chlorine dries out your skin and kills bacteria. So if your acne breakouts are being caused by too much oil or bacteria, chlorine can reduce acne breakouts in the short term. However, prolonged exposure to chlorinated water will eventually dry out your skin, causing itchiness, rashes, or other forms of irritation. If you go swimming in a chlorinated pool, you should shower as soon as you are done and moisturize your face to ensure your skin does not dry out. 

Your skin is the most sensitive organ in your body. If you frequently expose your skin to chemicals like chlorine, you need to follow a proper skincare routine to keep your skin healthy and moisturized. 

Is Chlorine Harmful or Beneficial For Acne?

Chlorine will help to remove sebaceous oil from your facial glands.

However, long-term chlorine exposure can lead to irritation, dryness, itchiness, and rashes. Hence, spending time in chlorinated water for a long time may cause your skin to dry out and lead to irritations. 

So, Is Chlorine Good For Acne?

Yes. Chlorine can be helpful for acne but only temporarily. However, it is not a replacement for following a low inflammation diet to prevent acne in the first place. 

Since chlorine has disinfectant properties (kills bacteria and viruses), it is temporarily helpful for clogged pores infected or blocked with bacteria. 

Additionally, most people go swimming in the summer, and direct sunlight can help clear up breakouts. 

Most importantly, while chlorine can destroy harmful bacteria on your skin, it also kills the good bacteria and dries the skin. So, longer exposure to chlorine is not recommended.

If you want to gain temporary benefits of chlorine, you can swim in a chlorinated pool but for a restricted time. You also need to make sure you shower and moisturize immediately after. This protects you from the harmful effects of chlorine, such as:

  • Rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Irritation
  • Premature aging
  • Red, inflamed skin, blisters, and burns.

Therefore, slight exposure to chlorinated water can assist in reducing the size of your acne, but it only gives short-term effects. Hence, not regarded as a permanent solution or treatment replacement for acne.

But after the chlorine exposure, don’t forget to wash plus moisturize your skin with an oil-free moisturizer to prevent the skin-drying effect of chlorine.

Skincare Routines After Swimming

Mostly, pools contain chlorine to disinfect water and make it safe for swimming. But, if you have acne-prone skin, should you be swimming in chlorinated pools? 

As mentioned above, prolonged and regular exposure to chlorine can be harmful to acne, so it is better to avoid it. But worry not! Adopting a proper skincare routine after swimming can protect your acne from harmful effects if you swim for long, along with providing short-term acne benefits of chlorine.

Below, we have compiled a step-wise skincare routine for acne-prone skin. So, if you love swimming and have acne, this routine is for you!

Use Sunscreen

Applying a thin layer of sunscreen before you jump into the swimming pool can protect your skin from UV rays and can act as a protective layer between your skin and the harmful effects of chlorine. 

Moreover, it is also beneficial to prevent your acne from worsening when you unconsciously spend long hours in the swimming pool.

Shower And Use A Cleanser

After you are done swimming, use a facial cleanser and shower yourself to wash off any excess chlorine that has remained on your body. We can’t forget that chlorine can be harmful to the skin if exposed longer or remains unwashed.

Moisturize Your Skin

The primary effect of chlorine is that it quickly dries the skin. Hence, even if you have acne, use a lightweight and oil-free moisturizer after leaving the pool and completing your cleansing step. I highly recommend using Aveeno’s oat gel facial moisturizer if you have oily or sensitive skin.

How to prevent breakouts after swimming? 

Simply follow these three steps to protect your skin from breakouts.

  • Use sunscreen
  • Shower after swimming
  • Use a cleanser to remove any chlorine remaining on your body.
  • Use a lightweight moisturizer.

Chlorine Vs. Salt Water

If you think that saltwater doesn’t contain chlorine, that’s absolutely wrong! Saltwater does contain chlorine but in a lesser amount. Also, the amount of chlorine in saltwater is sufficient to disinfect the water. So, what’s the difference?

Compared to chlorinated water, saltwater is softer and gentler on your skin, with lower chances of irritation. Many people prefer saltwater pools because the chemical smell is much weaker. Additionally, saltwater is actually quite good for your skin in small amouunts. Salt is a natural exfoliator and moisturizer. Although a traditional “saltwater pool” is not the same as the ocean, it is much better than a conventional chlorinated pool.


Chlorine isn’t an acne treatment. It can help you gain clearer skin and provide short-term relief, but it will not eliminate acne. The best way to prevent acne is to follow a low inflammation diet that proactively keeps you from breaking out. However, occasionally going for a swim and getting direct sunlight exposure is a great way to reduce oil production and bacterial infections in the short term. 


Does chlorine help acne?

Chlorine can provide short-term benefits for acne, by removing oils and slightly reducing the size of pores. However, it is not an effective long term solution for clearing acne

Does chlorine help back acne?

If you occasionally spend time in chlorinated water like swimming pools and shower immediately afterward, chlorine can provide short-term benefits for back acne by removing oils.

Does swimming help acne?

Swimming pools contain chlorine. The antibacterial properties of chlorine can make your skin clearer and help clear acne if exposed for a short amount of time.

Originally Published: December 17, 2021

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

1 thought on “Does Chlorine Help Acne?”

  1. Ocean salt water and sun will clear acne
    Beautifully! Put the salt water on your
    Face and lay in the sun for about 15 -20


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