Daily chlorine exposure wreaks havoc on star swimmer Michael Phelps’s hair. “It feels dead at times,” he admits to PEOPLE. But dealing with dry scalp issues isn’t enough to make the Olympian go to extremes.
“I would never shave my hair, zero shot,” he says. “If it falls out then it falls out. But I could never actually take a razor to my head and BIC it. I just couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t see myself without hair.”
Luckily he won’t need to resort to shaving anytime soon: Phelps is the face (and, um, scalp) of the Head & Shoulders “Wash in Confidence” campaign, designed to boost self-esteem through healthy hair. “Head & Shoulders really helps re-moisturize my head, my hair and my scalp,” the athlete says. “It feels good, it feels clean.”
Phelps’s face is on select bottles of Head & Shoulders now, a part of the campaign he calls “kind of weird, strange and cool. I never imagined I’d be on the front of a shampoo bottle.” But he’s happy to be a spokesman for the brand, especially going into the 2012 London summer Olympics.
“Over the last eight months to a year, this is probably the happiest I’ve been since Beijing,” he admits. “I feel confident, I’m excited, I’m training, and I feel like I’m heading in the right direction to be able to accomplish my goals.”
Though the swimmer confirms that these will be his final Olympic games — “I always told myself I would never swim past the age of 30,” the 26-year-old explains — he’s looking forward to accomplishing a lot out of the pool through his Michael Phelps Foundation.
“I’m helping kids live healthy and active lifestyles, and learning how to swim is something I think all kids need,” he says. “It’s fun for me to always be around kids, have them smiling and enjoying themselves, and teaching them that they can do anything they set their minds to.”