Dive into a Low-Tox Swimming Lifestyle: Tips for Skin & Health Protection

In Singapore, where it's perpetual summer, water activities are a beloved part of Singaporean culture. We are blessed with an abundance of public swimming pools, splash parks and water playgrounds for families to visit and enjoy.

Along with the joys of accessible swimming and water play comes the need for vigilant sun care and health protection, particularly for children whose skin and health are more susceptible to damage.

In this blog, we will explore the depths of a low-tox swimming lifestyle by uncovering tips and considerations for low-tox and safe water adventures, so that we can dive into water play with peace of mind.

Sun Care

Adequate sun care is an essential part of ensuring a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for our children. A pediatric dermatologist I saw for my children's heat triggered rash and pigmentation issues advised us to avoid the sun from 10am to 4pm because UV index is the strongest in that time span. Being used to grey Seattle where we lived prior to Singapore, this seemed a long duration to keep out of the sun and took a while for us to adapt to.

Since UV rays can be harsh on children's skin which is more susceptible to damage than adults', it is advisable for caregivers to be proactive in protecting their children's skin from sun damage.

This includes applying generous amounts of sunscreen with a high SPF, adequate coverage with protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses, and providing shade as needed even in outdoor settings (e.g. gazebo in a water park or self-pitched tent beside the sea). Additionally, reapplication of sunscreen throughout the swim is crucial for maintaining effective sun protection.

Checking the UV index prior to the swim is a good idea too, given that Singapore has been experiencing extreme UV index levels lately.

from Weather app on my iPhone, UV index is low at 7pm

Choice of Sunscreen

Based on current knowledge, it seems mineral (not chemical) sunscreen formulations containing non-nano zinc oxide are most low-tox and suitable for children, as they provide broad-spectrum protection without harsh chemicals.

Why non-nano? It appears that nano sunscreen particles can be absorbed into the epidermis, moving into the bloodstream and be absorbed by the body. Read more here.

My sunscreen of choice for my children? Babo Botanicals mineral sunscreen. It leaves a white streak on the skin, but this works as intended since mineral filters are meant to leave a layer on your skin, like tiny mirrors, in reflecting the sun's rays.

I use my fingers to apply the sunscreen generously to my children's exposed skin, including the neck, and behind the ears. I have read that using a cosmetic brush would help with a more even and thorough application.

Something I'm trying to remember to do more consistently - re-apply regularly, especially when the swim session is long, or my child is perspiring a lot.

Waterproofing with Coconut Oil

This may sound comical, but we have much to learn from ducks.

Before heading into the water, consider applying oil to your child's skin as a natural waterproofing agent. This layer of oil forms a protective barrier that helps repel water and prevents moisture loss, keeping your child's skin hydrated and protected during swimming sessions. My personal preference is organic cold-pressed coconut oil in a glass bottle.

If my sunscreen already contains oil, I would skip this step. But for swims taking place in the evening or at night, I would skip the sunscreen and solely use this coconut oil. Additionally, coconut oil has nourishing properties that can soothe and moisturize the skin and hair, making it an excellent choice for post-swim skincare.

Choice of water venue

In Singapore, while chlorinated pools dominate the swimming landscape, there are options for those seeking the gentler embrace of salt water pools. Salt water pools are not as ubiquitous as their chlorinated counterparts in Singapore. The ones I've found in Singapore are The Capitol Kempinski Hotel pool and Happy Fish pools.

Saltwater pools offer a more natural swimming environment, and is often preferred by individuals with sensitive skin or chlorine sensitivity.

For indoor pools without good ventilation, chlorinated water can have a slight chemical odor that can be obvious. In that respect, there might be less smell in outdoor chlorinated pools, for the heat of the sun causes the volatile chlorine to evaporate and the wind carries it away. Heightened temperature increases rate of chlorine evaporation.

Overall, it might be a good idea to rotate water venue frequently to reduce exposure to venue-specific toxins. If choosing to play in water outdoors, check local environment and health advisories for their water quality reports at the swimming spots (lakes, ponds, beaches etc) you are visiting.

In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) regularly monitors water quality at popular public water bodies. NEA conducts weekly sampling of water quality from the seven (7) popular recreational beaches. You can check the NEA website for these weekly updates on water quality assessments and advisories.

Home pool maintenance

This is for families with home pools in their backyards, more common for families living outside of Singapore. Opt for natural water treatment. Instead of relying on chlorine and other harsh chemicals to treat pool water, consider natural alternatives like saltwater or mineral-based systems. These options provide effective sanitation without the negative side effects associated with traditional chemical treatments, promoting a safer and more enjoyable swimming experience for children.

To maintain clean and healthy pool water, regular maintenance and filtration are essential for keeping pool water clean and free from contaminants. Invest in a high-quality filtration system and regularly test water quality to ensure optimal balance and clarity. Additionally, incorporate eco-friendly pool cleaning products to minimize chemical exposure and maintain a low-tox swimming environment.

Choosing low-tox swim gear

Selecting swimwear and accessories from low-tox, eco-friendly materials is key to a low-tox swimming lifestyle.

Natuiral Baby Mama advises to look for swim gear that is Oeko-Tex certified. They aren't easy to find, but I came across Liewood UV protecton suits, carrying a size range from 3 to 10 years old. Clothing manufactured according to Oeko-Tex standards which means it’s tested for hundreds of harmful chemicals.

These Liewood UV protection suits came with a smell, I put them through gentle machine wash a few times before letting my children don them

Alternatively, contact brands for their swim wear technology - ask for UPF rated rash guards and swimwear that is achieved through the weave of the fabric and not through the use of chemicals.


Emphasize the importance of showering before and after swimming, as well as avoiding swallowing pool water. I personally prefer soap bars to liquid soaps for their clean and minimal ingredient lists. Specially formulated swimmers' soap can wash away residual chlorine on the skin.

After showering, I would use natural fabrics like organic cotton towels to dry my children's skin. Swimming in chlorinated water and bathing can strip the skin of natural moisture. Natural fabrics are gentle on the skin and can limit further skin irritation.

I've read that some bamboo fabric is processed with harsh and harmful chemicals. For additional safety on whether a bamboo fabric is safe for your baby, look for organic and OEKO-TEX-certified bamboo fabric, which means that it has been tested for harmful substances.

(Quickly sharing more about OEKO-TEX and GOTS, which comes up when I share about OEKO-TEX. OEKO-TEX focuses only on the final product's safety by testing it for harmful substances. GOTS is focused on the production process is monitored to ensure safety for both humans and the environment.)

Wanted to also highlight a point from my readers that while bamboo fabric is often marketed as being more eco-friendly, and it's true that bamboo is a highly renewable plant. However, some bamboo fabric can still be farmed and produced using unsustainable methods that can harm the environment, so choose bamboo fabric from companies that value sustainability and transparency.

To minimize the risk of water-related sinus issues, consider incorporating a salt water spray nasal rinse (e.g. Sterimar) into your child's post-swim routine. This was recommended by my children's pediatric ENT specialist.

Nasal rinsing helps flush out any impurities or irritants from the nasal passages, reducing the likelihood of congestion or discomfort. Choose a gentle saline solution (we were prescribed Sterimar) designed for nasal irrigation. Follow the instructions for safe and effective use.


Cultivating a low-tox swimming lifestyle for children is a proactive step towards promoting their health and well-being in and around the water.

By prioritizing sun protection, being choiceful over swim venues and low-tox swim gear, and emphasizing after-swim hygiene, we can create a safe and enjoyable swimming environment for our little ones.

Featured products

organic cold-pressed coconut oil in a glass bottle

Sterimar nasal spray

swimmers' soap

Babo Botanicals mineral sunscreen
Miraculove Brand Icon

Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.

Hi! Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I am a stay-home Singaporean mama living in Seattle who is passionate about child-led and open-ended play for children in a conducive home environment.

Discovering Montessori and Reggio has been a life-changer for me. It made me an empathetic and mindful parent who follows my child’s needs and interests in the activities I plan at home. I hope the Montessori-friendly and Reggio inspired baby and toddler activities I share here inspire you too.

Happy reading!