Blonde Hair: Preventing And Fixing Green Hair After Swimming

Learn how to prevent and fix blonde hair that turns green after swimming. Reverse the chlorine and metal damage to hair from repeated exposure.

Ask any blonde teenager what the number one safety hazard associated with swimming in chlorinated pools is, and you're likely to get an answer that goes something like this: "Like, it's the chlorine. Just look at what it does to my hair! EEK! How do I fix it""now?" Darker hair can display a hint of green as well, particularly under certain lighting conditions. Does your hair sport a green tint because of repeated exposure to the chlorine in a swimming pool? Actually, no""it doesn't turn green for that reason.

What causes green hair?

Chlorine causes hard metals such as copper, iron, and manganese in swimming pool water to oxidize. The process is the same as that which happens to copper used in architecture, copper pots and pans, and pennies. Time and elements turn that beautiful copper color into a greenish turquoise as the mineral oxidizes. Blonde, platinum, white or gray hair often displays a greenish tint after repeated exposure to the oxidized hard metals floating around chlorinated swimming pools. It's the metals, not the chlorine, that actually cause the hair to change color.

The more porous the hair, the easier it is for the strands to absorb the metals and turn green. Any chemical process applied to hair makes the hair cuticle, the outer covering, more porous. A constant regimen of color and permanents weakens the hair's natural defenses. Once the cuticle is stripped, there is no way to restore it. Chlorine is a bleaching agent, and as well as damaging hair, it lightens it. The green tint is more visible on lighter hair, so the additional exposure to chlorine compounds the problem.

Preventing Green Hair

If you don't own the swimming pool, then you can't control the density of chemicals and minerals in the water. You can control how frequently you expose you hair to the water and the degree to which you expose it to the water.

The obvious solution is to wear a swimming cap. In fact, by applying conditioner to your hair before you don the cap, you create a heat-conditioning treatment while guarding your hair from assault. If you're swimming at home, you'll receive two benefits by treating your hair to deep conditioning while protecting it from color change. While that's the best solution, it's hardly a practical one for swimming in public. How many women are going to work hard to create a swimsuit-suitable body only to hide their tresses beneath a swimming cap? It's also unlikely that you'll find a man outside of competitive swimming wearing a swimming cap.

Experts suggest that if you cannot or will not wear a swimming cap, you should apply conditioner to your hair to seal the cuticle. These experts have not read the rules at most community pools. The rules usually do not allow you to wear lotions or oils that will wash off in the water. While pool employees and management probably allow sunscreens and sun blocks, it's unlikely that they'll ignore a head full of conditioner.

If you don't own the swimming pool, there is still one thing you can do to prevent the "greenies." Rinse your hair after each dip in the pool. You must religiously rinse all of the pool water from your hair immediately after leaving the pool if you're serious about prevention. A thorough rinsing provides another benefit: chlorine is a harsh chemical, and while it doesn't turn hair green, it does damage hair. It strips the cuticle, leaves the hair shaft susceptible to color change, causes split ends, and leaves the hair dull, brittle and weak. In fact, some swimmers report losing clumps of hair after repeated exposure to chlorine. Rinse thoroughly, and when you think you have rinsed it all out, rinse some more. After you leave the pool, wash your hair as soon as possible with a gentle shampoo to remove any residual chlorine, and let your hair dry naturally, if possible.

If you own your own pool, you can monitor the concentration of minerals and add chelating agents as appropriate. Mixing incompatible chelating agents can lead to unintended problems. Ask your pool professional for help.

Fixing Green Hair

If your hair already resembles a bucket of seaweed, don't panic. You can take several corrective steps to restore your natural color to your locks.

There are several name-brand swimmers' shampoos available and a few two-in-one shampoo/conditioner products formulated for swimmers. These shampoos contain chelating agents such as ethylenediamene tetracetic acid (EDTA), and experts agree that you should use the shampoos only until you have removed the green.

A quick Internet search will lead to reviews of the various products, and most seem to have mixed reviews with more positive than negative reviews. The reviews shared one common characteristic: most reviewers used their everyday shampoo as a basis for comparison, but the everyday shampoos are not formulated for removing green from hair, so the reviews are a bit like comparing aspirin to penicillin.

For natural and quick solutions, you might try adding several aspirins or 1/4 cup baking soda to water. Use either of these diluted formulas in one of several ways:

- Pour on your hair before shampooing, leave on the hair for a few minutes, and then wash and condition your hair.

- Wash and rinse your hair. Pour the solution on your hair, leave for a few minutes, and then rinse thoroughly before conditioning.

- Wash and rinse your hair, use the solution as a rinse before conditioning.

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