Tourists are showing how their hair was damaged for weeks after swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.
Amelia Carta-McCarthy, 20, told Insider it took a month for her hair to feel healthy again.
Marissa Carlino told Insider her hair was dry for weeks but said the photos were worth it.
Some tourists are learning the hard way that when you get your hair wet in Iceland’s iconic Blue Lagoon, there are going to be some consequences.
Recent viral TikTok videos have shown how the geothermal spa can leave hair dry and brittle for days or weeks after.
Marissa Carlino, a 25-year-old interior designer from New England, shared a TikTok of her own experience on March 19, and it’s racked up more than 9.4 million views as of Friday.
Carlino told Insider that she visited the Blue Lagoon earlier in March. She said she headed straight to the tourist spot located near Grindavík after her flight landed at 5 a.m. in hopes of beating the huge crowds that visit every day.
Upon arrival, Carlino said staff at the lagoon recommended that everyone tie their hair up while in the water.
“Of course, I heard what the workers said and knew prior to going in that my hair would be a mess afterward if I put it in the water,” Carlino said. “The lagoon contains high levels of silica. Although it’s not damaging to hair, submerging your hair in such a high concentration results in the crunchy feeling.”
But Carlino wanted to snap some photos of herself at the lagoon with her hair down.
“I guess the mistake I made was leaving my hair down 90% of the time I was in the lagoon,” she said.
Amelia Carta-McCarthy, who also posted a TikTok video about her Blue Lagoon experience on March 26, said when she visited in January, she wasn’t told by any staff members to put her hair up, but she did see signs that mentioned it.
“There were no signs on how the water would negatively impact your hair, but there were signs saying to put your hair up,” the 20-year-old from Manchester, England, told Insider. “I assumed this was because they didn’t want people’s hair clogging drains, not that it would damage your hair.”
The Blue Lagoon’s official website notes that the geothermal seawater “can leave the hair matted and unmanageable.”
“We recommend using a swim cap or tying your hair in a bun,” it reads. “Swim caps are not available for rent, but they are sold in the Blue Lagoon store here at Blue Lagoon.”
Before swimming in the Blue Lagoon, Carlino said she rinsed her hair and body and lathered her locks with a conditioner that was provided in the locker room, which she said is the standard practice. About a half-hour after she got into the lagoon, Carlino noticed that the conditioner had washed off. She said she spent a total of three hours in the water, and could feel the effects on her hair almost immediately.
“The best way to describe it is the feeling of your hair after swimming in the ocean, times 10,” Carlino said. “My hair became extremely stiff and the cold air — I think it was about 30 degrees out that morning with very high winds — only made it worse. My hair felt almost gritty, chalky even.”
Carta-McCarthy, who spent 10 hours in the lagoon, said her hair started feeling different within 10 minutes of getting into the water.
“I could feel the horrible straw texture and how my hair had been completely dried out,” she said.
After enjoying the lagoon, Carlino said she shampooed and conditioned her hair in the locker room shower. She then tried to use one of the provided hair dryers but “could not untangle my hair no matter what I did.”
“Every time I brushed one piece it would get knotted again, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “The rest of the trip I left my hair in a braid and figured I’d deal with the consequences once I was home.”
Carlino began researching tips to combat “Blue Lagoon hair” while waiting for her flight back to the US and read that a clarifying shampoo could get rid of mineral buildup while a protein-free conditioner would help restore moisture. She used both when she got home and left a deep conditioner in her hair overnight. Carlino said she “noticed a slight improvement” the next morning.
“In total, it took about four washes for my hair to return to normal,” she said. “And it’s even softer now since I’ve been deep-conditioning regularly.”
“It was something I was more than willing to deal with,” she added. “The photos are something I can always look back on and smile remembering my time in Iceland, so I couldn’t care less about having straw hair for a few weeks.”
It took a month for Carta-McCarthy’s hair to feel healthy again “after many hair masks and hair oiling,” she told Insider.
“As someone with curly hair, this ruined my curl pattern for quite some time,” she added.
For anyone looking to visit the Blue Lagoon, Carlino recommends skipping shampoo when you rinse off before going into the water and putting “tons of conditioner” in your hair. She also suggests taking all the photos you want when you first enter the lagoon, then putting your hair in a clip.
“I’d recommend even going back into the locker room to put your phone in storage and add more conditioner to your hair,” Carlino said. “From there, you can really just enjoy the lagoon.”
“If you don’t want to deal with dry hair for a few weeks, then lather your hair in conditioner and keep it in a clip the entire time,” she added. “The memories will last a lifetime, so it was definitely worth ruining my hair for a few weeks.”
Representatives for the Blue Lagoon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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