The old saying goes, “Blondes have more fun.” But there’s nothing fun about green hair from a pool. So we ask the pressing question: Why does blonde hair turn green from a swimming pool? It’s a legitimate question. If your hair is turning green, or your children suddenly have green hair instead of that cute tow-headed look, you want answers.
Your first guess would be that chlorine in the pool turns blonde hair green. But chlorine is not the main culprit. Copper is. The chlorine in your pool oxidizes the copper, and the copper then binds to the protein in hair strands. The metal will then produce a green tint in the hair. It happens to everyone if there is high copper content. It’s just way more noticeable in blonde hair.
How Does Copper Get in Your Pool Water?
There are a number of ways copper gets into your pool. Much of our municipality water and well water has dissolved metals and minerals in it. Your water supply very possibly has more copper in it than is healthy for your pool or your hair.
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the level of copper in drinking water to no more than 1.3 ppm (parts-per-million). That’s more than six times the maximum recommended level of copper (0.2 ppm) for your pool water! So if you’re anywhere near the maximum level allowed, your pool water is going to gain copper.
You can find out the level of copper in your water by checking the water analysis report put out by your municipal water company.
How to Prevent Green Hair From a Pool
The good news is, you don’t have to risk green hair. There are things you can do to prevent the problem from occurring – in your own pool that is.
Pool Water Testing
The first thing you can do to prevent green hair from your pool is to do pool water testing regularly. This can tell you if levels of copper or other chemicals or minerals are too high or too low. Then you can take steps to regulate the levels.
Stop Using Copper-Based Algaecides
Nobody wants algae in their swimming pool. But you don’t want to get an algae-free pool if it means swimmers get green hair. If you need to use an algaecide, opt for a non-copper formula.
Protect Your Hair from Copper
You may be wondering not only why does blonde hair turn green from a swimming pool, but how to prevent it. Of course, you could wear a swim cap, but who wants to do that? You can also protect your hair from turning green from copper by using a leave-in conditioner diving in. Also, wash and rinse your hair as soon as you get out of the pool. This is where a outdoor shower comes in really handy. Otherwise, shower and shampoo as soon as you go inside.
Your hair salon may be able to help you as well. You can ask for a “seal coat” or a “gloss coat” that seals many cuticles on the hair. This will prevent the copper from attaching to the hair strands and turning it green.
How to Get Rid of Green Hair From a Pool
If you or a family member already has green hair, don’t panic. There are a number of ways to get rid of the green tint. These include:
- Wash your hair with a shampoo formulated for swimmers. It will contain chelating ingredients that help break down and remove metals from your hair. Once the green is gone, resume using your regular shampoo.
- Comb a half cup of vinegar or lemon juice through your hair, and let it sit for ten minutes. Ketchup also works. The acidity will help remove the copper oxide. The rinse, and shampoo your hair as normal.
- Create a baking soda paste and massage it into your hair. Rinse, and shampoo as normal. You may need to repeat the process.
So there you have it – the science behind why blonde hair turns green from a swimming pool, and what you can do about it.