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What to do when you have Green Hair From Chlorine

Hair color has become one of the biggest industries of the last few years, but assuredly no one wants green hair against their will, especially when you’re attempting to enjoy yourself during the summer months poolside. The summer won’t be nearly as fun if you have to spend a good portion of it trying to remove a green tint to your blonde hair. The difference between intentionally dyed green hair and green hair from a pool is very simple – dyed green is far more lush and vibrant, while swimming pool hues are tepid and dull, leaving hair lifeless.

You may have heard that the chemical chlorine is to blame for turning blonde hair green and although this is partially true, it is not the full reason. That’s because chlorine is present in all pools, so chlorine alone is not going to cause such a drastic change in color. There is a science involved in why blonde hair turns green and it involves a few more steps and chemicals than you may be aware of.

The answer is copper. If you have ever seen a rusted penny, then you know that after years of being handled, they turn green. The Statue of Liberty is also known for its green hue as well. That’s because it is also manufactured with a copper exterior and overtime – and increased exposure to seawater and the weather, the copper used to make it has oxidized and it has resulted in a green patina. When copper comes into contact with chlorinated water, it begins to oxidize and the resulting effect is a green color on hair. When copper is exposed to chlorine and water, it may leave stains that are green. The truth is that all hair types can have oxidized copped drenched in, but it is only visible on blonde hair since it is so much lighter than other hues. For those that have hair that is a lighter shade of brown or lighter, following the guidelines here will ensure that your hair is not damaged from the chemicals that are typically included in swimming pools.

Hair comes in all shapes and sizes, but although it may vary from person to person, there are some characteristics that we all share. Hair is very porous, like a sponge, and exposure to hard metals like iron, copper, and manganese can cause it to change color. These metals have this effect because they literally stick to hair and produce a resulting effect that is ashy and dull. In order to understand how to recover your natural locks, it is important to know as much as you can about this phenomenon and how to treat it.

How Copper Ends Up in Your Pool Water

Copper can find its way into a pool by a few ways:

Water Source

If the water that you use to fill your pool contains a higher concentration of copper, then you are more likely to have more copper in your look. This is something that happens most times with well water, although some water sources from municipalities can report higher concentrations. You can find out through your local authorities what the proper levels are in your neighborhood so that you will have a better idea of how to proceed.


Copper is known for killing algae, and it is an active ingredient in producing algaecides. For those that want their pools properly sanitized and cleaned, you won’t have to be concerned about using algaecides. If you choose to, however, there is an elevated risk of green hair being an issue.

Mineral Sanitizers

There is more than just chlorine that can cause hair to turn green from a pool. Another active ingredient in pool mineral sanitizers is copper, so if you are using this on your pool, it may be an issue.

Home Remedies for Treating Green Hair

Now that you know the basics of how green hair is caused by minerals in your pool, we will now go over ways to treat it and return your hair to its natural state.

Baking Soda

Treating green hair with baking soda is definitely the easiest and most affordable method as most people have baking soda on hand at home. All you have to do is make a paste using a fourth to a half of baking soda and then mix in enough water until it maintains a nice consistency. Once you have created the paste, massage it through your hair and then rinse with warm water. Next, use shampoo and then conditioner until all of the baking soda has been rinsed away. How many times you need to repeat this process depends on how green your hair is. It is also possible to mix baking soda into the shampoo directly, but most will find it easier to mix the paste with the water first, and then the baking soda.

Lemon Juice

Pour lemon juice all over your hair from a bottle for about five to ten minutes. Next, you wash and then condition your hair normally. Again, repeat the process as needed.

Tomato Juice, Ketchup, or V8

Saturate your hair with V8, tomato juice or ketchup and then let it sit for about five minutes, then wash and condition normally. If you opt to use ketchup, you need to massage it through the areas that are affected, then wrap hair in tin foil for about half an hour. Next, wash and condition normally.


Everyone has aspirin at home, and to treat green hair, you can crush about 8 into a bowl and then mix them with water until they dissolve. Then, wash hair with this aspirin water and allow it to sit there for about 15 minutes. Next, rinse hair, then wash and condition normally.

Club Soda or Coca-Cola

You may already be aware of what happens when you pour Coca-Cola on a penny, and that is basically what will happen when you apply it to your hair as it strips the green color away. Saturate your hair with Coca-Cola or club soda and then massage it directly into the green areas. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse away with water, then wash and condition normally.

Keeping Your Hair From Turning Green

Now that you know how to return your hair to its normal hue, now are the tips and guidelines you can use to ensure that it never turns green in the first place. To ensure that oxidized copper stays away from your hair, you’re going to have to keep copper away from your pool.

  • Testing the Water Source

Use a water testing kit or test strips that can help you figure out if the water in your pool contains any copper. Another alternative is to visit your local pool store and have it tested there.

  • Using a Hose Filter

Use a hose filter to keep the minerals in your pool as low as possible.

  • Using a Metal Sequestrant

Before using this water additive, check with the manufacturer for both the sanitizer and the sequestrant.

  • Using Copper-Free Algaecides

If you do have to deal with an algae infestation, use an algaecide that doesn’t contain copper as the active ingredient.

These notes are for your own pool. If you are swimming at someone else’s house or at a public pool, these are the tips to abide by:

Wearing a Swimming Cap

They may not be all that attractive, but swim caps are great at protecting your hair from harsh chemicals in the pool that can turn hair green.

Using Leave-In Conditioners

Apply leave-in conditioner to hair before swimming as it will coat and treat the shaft making it harder for copper or other minerals to attach to your hair.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar

Rinse your hair with apple cider to seal the hair cuticle and make it harder for copper to activate and turn your hair green.

Immediately Washing Hair

Immediately after getting out of the pool, you should wash your hair and remove as much of the chemicals as possible. Don’t allow it to dry as that may seal in the chemicals and bind them to your hair.

Using Swimmer’s Shampoo

Go even further and start by washing your hair with specialized shampoos for swimming that come with a chelating agent included.

Using Hot Oil Treatment

Once you are done shampooing and before you start swimming, apply hot oil to to seal hair cuticles, protect from metals and minerals and away from drying chlorine.


Those are some of the ways to combat green hair, but if none of these are effective, another solution is to cut your hair and allow the hair to grow back. This is the last case scenario as one of the above may work and you likely won’t have to go this route. When in doubt, you have to keep swimmer’s shampoo on hand and in stock, ketchup and lemon juice at the beginning of the summer season, and you should be fine.

Posted in pool maintenance

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