Green Hair from Chlorine & How to Fix It

Green hair from chlorine occurs because chlorine oxidizes hard metals in the pool water. Learn more about how to prevent green hair.

Quick info on Green Hair

Ahh, summer. There’s picnics, sunshine, fresh fruit, beaches, green hair… Wait, what? Your hair has turned green!

a chihuahua looking shocked with a bright green wig on its head
The look you give yourself after you get out of the pool and see your green hair in the mirror.

You read that right. For many people, splashing around in a chlorinated pool is shortly followed by a new green tint they never signed up for. While blonde hair takes on a more apparent green hue, even darker hair colors can pick up a greenish tinge. 

If you notice that your hair is green, don’t panic. It’s relatively easy to get rid of green hair from chlorine and to prevent it in the future. Read on to learn more about how chlorine affects hair color and what you can do about it in terms of pool maintenance.

Why does hair turn green in a swimming pool?

If a swimming pool is turning your hair green, you probably already know that chlorine – a chemical that keeps your pool sanitary – is the culprit. But why does this happen? It has to do with the chemical properties of pool water.

Not only does chlorine kill dangerous bacteria and prevent algae growth, but it also quickly oxidizes the elements in the pool, keeping it swim-safe. Although the use of chlorine (and the resultant oxidation process) is necessary, this can lead to hard metals such as copper, manganese, and iron being oxidized as well. The alteration of these hard metal elements may not present a hazard to your health, but it has some interesting side effects for your hair.

Have you ever seen an old penny with a greenish tint? This is because pennies, which are made of copper, oxidize over time. That simply means that oxygen in the air binds with the copper, turning the element green. Another example of this is the Statue of Liberty, which used to be a brown, coppery color. Its current greenish hue is the result of oxidation over the years.

In the pool, however, this process occurs much more quickly than in hard metals like pennies. When free-floating copper in your pool water is oxidized by chlorine, it turns green and then bonds with your hair. And there you have it – an impromptu green hair dye. So to stave off green hair from chlorine, we need to make sure you avoid putting too much shock in your pool and that you keep that oxidized copper from ever sticking to your hair. Here’s how:

How to prevent green hair from a swimming pool

Test your pool water

This is one of the most notable steps in preventing green hair tint (and numerous other problems). Test your pool water regularly to see what chemicals and metals are present and at what levels. Specifically, you will need to get a testing kit to measure the levels of copper and other easily-oxidized hard metals in your pool water. After all, there may be excess copper or chlorine in your pool water or some other chemical imbalance. And if that’s the case, green hair may be the least of your health concerns.

holding a pink and green test kit next to an inground pool where a woman and young girl are swimming
Remember to test your pool water regularly! This is a common type of test kit you might use.

Pool Calculator makes tracking and measuring your pool chemistry a breeze, and it’s available for both iOS and Android. It’s the best way to keep your pool’s chemical balance right at your fingertips – and gives you simple, zero-stress pool maintenance tips, as well. Remember – balancing the myriad chemicals in your pool water and properly maintaining your pool isn’t just good for your hair. It will ensure your pool doesn’t turn green and that it stays sanitary and safe for swimming in every respect.

Use a metal remover

If you want to remove hard metals altogether, using a metal remover will also do the trick. Essentially, a metal remover is used to keep hard metals such as copper, iron, and manganese out of the fill water that enters the pool. This is a reliable way to solve the problem at its source. If hard metals aren’t present in your pool water, the chlorine will not have anything to oxidize.

Get in the water with wet hair

Instead of hopping into the pool straightaway, try soaking your hair first. Hair that’s already drenched with normal, chlorine-free water will absorb less chlorinated pool water. Of course, your hair will still absorb some of the pool water while you’re swimming. This trick is helpful, but works best when combined with some of our other tips!

a rectangular sign that says please shower before entering pool and has an image of a person showering
You can buy signs like these on Amazon!

Apply leave-in conditioner

Similar to wetting your hair before you get in the water, applying a leave-in conditioner prior to swimming can help stave off the green tint. It works by sealing your hair off against all of that chlorinated pool water. Leave-in conditioner creates a thick coat on each strand of your hair, making it resistant to the oxidizing copper that is turning your hair green.

Wash your hair immediately after swimming

The longer you allow oxidized copper water to sit in your hair, the more likely your hair is to turn green. If possible, hop in the shower immediately when you get out of the pool and give your locks a quick rinse.

Wear a swimming cap

If the tips above don’t do the trick for you, you can always rely on a swimming cap to protect your hair. While swim caps may not be the most flattering pool attire, they are a great way to keep your hair healthy – especially if you have easily damaged hair, or you’re swimming somewhere with high chlorine levels. 

a teenage girl wearing a swim cap next to an indoor pool
Swim caps are affordable and a great way to protect your hair from turning green. They can also protect your hair from chlorine damage if you’re an avid swimmer.

How to fix green hair from chlorine

If you weren’t able to fend off the green hair tint from your pool’s chlorine, don’t worry – we’ve got your back. Check out our list for the best ways to get the green out of your hair and restore its natural color.

Apply lemon juice

Lemon juice is commonly used to brighten and lighten hair, making it a great tool to lift that unwanted green hair tint. Just squeeze the juice from 2-3 fresh lemons (or more, depending on how much hair you have), and saturate your hair with the juice. Let the lemon juice soak in your hair for about 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly. While the acidity will break down the green tint, it also may dry out your hair, so make sure to deep condition afterward to avoid dry or damaged hair.

a glass of fresh lemon juice next to a lemon being juiced with lemons in the background
You can also put the lemon juice in a spray bottle and spray it on your hair.

Rinse with apple cider vinegar

Another DIY-style fix for green hair is apple cider vinegar (ACV). After getting out of the pool, just give your hair a quick apple cider vinegar rinse, followed by clarifying shampoo and conditioner. Why does this work? Because vinegar is rich in acetic acid, which is also used to clean copper. So when you give your hair a good rinse with apple cider vinegar after swimming, you naturally soak your hair in a copper-cleansing element.

Make use of tomato juice

Although less acidic than lemon juice, tomato juice can also do a great job of restoring your natural hair color by getting rid of the green tint. Hop in the shower with a full glass of tomato juice, tomato soup, or even ketchup if you want a thicker consistency, and fully coat your hair, letting it soak for about 5 minutes. Rinse it out, and it should take the green with it. 

Create a baking soda paste

Have some baking soda sitting around in your fridge or pantry? This is another useful kitchen product to wash out that green tinge. You can create a hair paste by mixing water with ¼ cup – ½ cup of baking soda. You want a thick paste, so less than equal parts water should do. Once you find a good consistency, apply the mixture to your hair, focusing on the areas most heavily saturated in green from the pool water. Let the DIY paste sit for a few minutes and then rinse it out. Baking soda is gentler than lemon or tomato juice, so you may need to repeat this process several times before you cleanse with shampoo and conditioner.

hair paste made from water and baking soda in a small glass dish
This paste is extremely easy to make and a great DIY solution!

Maintaining your hair & your pool

These tips and tricks are a great way to wash the green out of your hair (and keep it from getting there in the first place). But there’s a reason our number one tip above focuses on pool maintenance! If you have excess copper (or a related chemical imbalance) in your pool water, it doesn’t matter how many lemon juice rinses you do – your hair will keep turning green. And you may encounter more serious health problems, too.

Again, it’s vital to know exactly what chemicals are in your pool and at what concentrations. There’s simply no better way to keep it safe and sanitary. Ready to get started? Pool Calculator makes daily pool maintenance a breeze.


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