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Swimmers' Hair: How to Get Green Out of Pool Hair

When it comes to summer fun, there is nothing better than putting on your bathing suit, slathering on some sunscreen, and jumping into a cool, refreshing pool. But if you’re a fair-haired swimmer, there is something scary lurking in the deep end. That’s right, we’re talking about the dreaded green swimmers' hair! Whether you’ve experienced it yourself, or you know someone who has, there is no denying the frustration that comes from blonde hair turning green after a summer spent in the pool. 

The good news is that one dip in the pool won't send you running to your hair stylist. Green hair from the pool happens gradually over time. Thankfully, there are plenty of methods for quickly nipping this inconvenience in the bud. If you’re wondering how to get green out of your pool hair, keep reading to learn the best tips and tricks! 

What’s to Blame for My Green Hair?

If you’ve noticed your hair taking on a greenish hue after some time in the pool, you’ve probably blamed the pool’s chlorine. While that’s a common misconception, chlorine is not the reason for your green hair. Believe it or not, copper is the culprit. But how does copper turn your hair green, you ask? When copper is exposed to water and chlorine, it oxidizes. Oxidized copper changes from its typical brownish color to green. As you swim, the oxidized copper attaches to the strands of your hair, turning it green.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the Statue of Liberty is made of copper? She may not look like it now, but when Lady Liberty was first assembled in the 1880s, she was copper-colored. Thanks to moisture from the elements and Liberty Bay, she has transformed over time into her trademark shade of green!

Water Source

The first reason for your lime-colored locks could be your pool’s water source. Any mineral in the main water source will be transferred right into your pool. It’s most common for well water to have a high concentration of copper, but it is also found in municipal water sources. 

Use of Algaecides

The second reason for your minty mane could be the algae-killing products in your pool, better known as algaecide. Copper is great at ridding pools of algae, which is why it's an active ingredient in many algaecides. However, if you’re keeping your pool clean and sanitized, you probably won’t need to use an algaecide often. If copper is a concern, use a copper-free algae preventative, such as Leslie's Algae Control.

Use of Pool Mineral Sanitizers and Ionization Systems

The final reason for your shamrock strands could be your pool’s mineral sanitizer or ionizer. Just like copper algaecides, most pool mineral sanitizers and ionization systems list copper as an active ingredient. Certain mineral systems add measurable amounts of copper to your pool water, while others only add a very small, almost indetectable amount.

How to Prevent and Remove Green from Hair

Now that you know the causes behind your green pool hair, how do you remove the unfavorable tint and prevent it from coming back? Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-true methods for preventing and getting rid of green hair for good. And don’t worry, booking an appointment at the salon is not on the list.

Water Balance

Routinely test your pool water for the presence of metals, and use sequestering or chelating agents to keep them under control. We often recommend Leslie's NoMetal to manage metals in the pool. If there's no measurable copper in your pool water, you're less likely to run into issues with green hair from the pool.

Swim Cap

While this method may not win you any fashion points at the pool, wearing a swim cap over your hair is the most straightforward way to avoid green pool hair. Not only does a swim cap protect your tresses from copper, it also guards against the harsh drying effects of chlorine and other pool chemicals. 

Leave-In Conditioner

Your hair is very porous, meaning it absorbs liquids quickly. If you're looking for effective pre-swim hair protection methods, use a leave-in conditioner to keep your hair from absorbing the copper-filled pool water. Wetting your hair and applying a leave-in conditioner will create a barrier on your strands that protects against the pool water chemicals. Rinse and condition your hair 10–15 minutes before taking a dip.

BONUS TIP: Always rinse off when you’re done swimming, even if you don’t have light-colored hair. Doing so washes off the pool water chemicals from your hair and body.

Aspirin

If your green swimmers' hair is giving you a headache, try some Aspirin! But not in the way you’re probably thinking. Before you get into the pool, crush 6–8 Aspirin tablets in a bowl, add warm water, and mix until the powder is dissolved. Pour the mixture onto your hair, massage into your green locks, and let it sit for about 15–20 minutes. Again, rinse, wash, and condition hair as you normally would. Then you’re ready to go!

Ketchup

We know ketchup goes great on burgers and hot dogs — but in this case, it can also go on your hair. This might sound bizarre, but this method really works! This practice is based on the color theory and how red and green are opposing shades of the universal color wheel. This means the red ketchup will neutralize the green in your hair. Massage the ketchup into dry hair, wrap your hair in an old towel, and wait 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are up, rinse, wash, and condition your hair as you normally would.

Baking Soda

Ketchup? Baking soda? What’s next, salad dressing?! We know this also sounds a bit unorthodox, but bare with us! Grab ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda and mix with water to make a runny paste. Massage the paste into dry or slightly damp hair, focusing on the green areas, and let it sit for a minute or two. Rinse with water, then wash and condition as normal. You may need to repeat this process a few times, depending on the intensity of the green in your hair.


Dealing with green swimmers' hair can certainly put a damper on your exciting summer plans. But don’t fret, there are several ways to remedy and prevent this issue. With these easy tips and tricks, you’ll have your luscious golden locks back in no time!

To get to the root of your copper conundrum, it's important to keep a close eye on water chemistry. Bring a water sample to your local Leslie's for a free in-store AccuBlue water analysis. Copper is just one of the 10 precise test results you'll receive. If you're fighting metals in the pool, use a sequestering or chelating agent like Leslie's NoMetal. Not only will these types of chemicals help you avoid green pool hair, but they'll also prevent stains and scaling on pool surfaces.



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