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Why Blond Hair Turns Green in the Pool and How to Fix It

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We’re willing to be that being blonde during the summer isn’t so fun if you go swimming and your hair turns green from the pool. These days, lots of people dye their hair green on purpose, but those are usually lush, vibrant colors, not the dull, watery green that results from the pool.

You’ve probably heard that chlorine is the culprit. And if that’s true, there may be no way to avoid green hair since most pools are sanitized with chlorine. But we have good news: It’s not chlorine’s fault. Well, not totally. The key to fixing green hair is to understand why it happens. And that will also help you prevent it from happening again.

Why Does Hair Turn Green From the Pool?

The answer is simple: copper.

You know how an old penny starts to turn green after years and years of being handled? Well, maybe not if you pay for everything with cards instead of cash. OK, here’s a better example.

You know the Statue of Liberty is green, right? Well, it wasn’t always. The statue actually has a copper exterior. When it was new, it was coppery and shiny. But after years of exposure to sea water and the elements, the copper oxidized and gained its famous green patina.

The same thing happens when copper is present in pool water. It oxidizes, and can turn certain things—the walls, the floor, your hair—green.

How Does Copper End Up in Pool Water?

It usually happens in one of three ways, or some combination thereof.

Your Water Source

If the water you use to fill your pool has a high copper content, you’ll also have copper in your pool. This happens most often with well water, but some municipal water sources can also have high mineral concentrations.

Algaecide

Copper is a well-known algae killer, so it’s often the active ingredient in algaecide. If you’re keeping your pool properly clean and sanitized, you shouldn’t have to worry about using an algaecide. But if you do, the potential for green hair is increased.

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Mineral Sanitizers

Chlorine isn’t the only sanitizer that can cause your hair to turn green from the pool. One of the active ingredients in a pool mineral sanitizer is copper, precisely for its algicidal properties.

Have any or all of these factors going on in your pool, and … hello green hair!

But How Does it Turn Hair Green?!

When the metal is exposed to the water and chlorine, it oxidizes. This is why you may sometimes end up with pool stains of a greenish color.

That oxidized metal then binds to the proteins in hair strands. So really, all hair can end up with oxidized copper in it. It’s just that it won’t show in darker hair colors. Because blond hair is so light, the green of the oxidized metal is visible.

Will Blond Hair Turn Green in a Saltwater Pool?

Yes. Salt water pools still use chlorine to sanitize the water, it’s just made from salt by a chlorine generator instead of being added manually as tablets or a powder.

If there’s copper in the water, and the chlorine created by the salt oxidizes it, your hair may turn green from the pool, just like it would in a regular chlorine pool.

How to Keep Your Hair from Turning Green Hair in the Pool

To keep the oxidized copper out of your hair, you’ll need to keep the copper out of the pool.

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But what if you swim in someone else’s pool? Or a public pool? You don’t have any control over the water or chemicals there, so you’ll need to protect your hair.

How to Fix Green Hair

If your hair has already turned green from the pool, don’t worry. You don’t have to cut it or wait for it to grow out. You can try a few remedies.

It’s Not Easy Having Green Hair

If all else fails, and your hair’s still a sickly green color, you always do have the last resort of cutting your hair and letting healthy blond hair grow back in its place. But with all of these precautions and home remedies, we’re thinking you won’t have to go that far.

Just remember to stock up on swimmer’s shampoo, lemon juice and ketchup at the beginning of the summer, and you’ll be fine.

Happy Swimming!

Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1995. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.

Frustrated by adding chemicals and trying to keep your pool clear all the time?

We cut out all the confusion of pool maintenance in this easy-to-read illustrated ebook and video course. It'll help you save $100 right away on pool care!

Click Here to Learn More
The Pool Care Handbook

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