Have you ever emerged from the pool to find that your brilliant double process or gorgeous highlights have turned a sour green? And yet, it’s not just pool water that can ruin your color — any buildup of oxidized minerals in your hair can turn it green. (That’s why hard water is another big culprit here.) To learn more, I spoke to a couple of experts to get their take on how to neutralize green hair — and how to avoid it in the first place.
Sara Clemente is a senior stylist at Warren Tricomi salon. She trained under Edward Tricomi and regularly does hair for models and actors at the salon’s Greenwich, CT location.
Cyd Koyanagi is a master colorist at Warren Tricomi salon in Greenwich, CT. The twenty-year veteran colorist specializes in colors that mimic nature.
What Causes Green Hair?
While chlorine is notorious for turning blonde hair green, the real culprit is actually the copper in a swimming pool. Chlorine can cause this copper to oxidize, which gives your hair that greenish tint when the copper builds up on it. Think of it like the Statue of Liberty — made of copper, she’s now oxidized to a green color.
Hard water can have the same effect, Clemente tells Bustle, and copper piping can do it, too, Koyanagi says. Since well water is often harder than town water, Clemente recommends checking what kind of water you have in your home. But any kind of water can be hard — mineral buildups in your shower, or anywhere water dries, is a telltale sign, but you can call your city’s water department to verify the hardness of your tap water. “You should always check wherever you live,” says Clemente.
How To Fix Green Hair
Both stylists recommend focusing on stripping the mineral buildup from your hair rather than trying to cancel out the green tones with a red shampoo or toner. “In theory, it makes sense,” Koyanagi tells Bustle. “In real life, it’s a disaster.”
Instead, she recommends products that were specifically designed to combat mineral buildup, like detoxifying shampoos and clarifying treatments. The Malibu C line is touted by both stylists — its Swimmers Wellness and Hard Water Wellness systems both include shampoo, conditioner, and packets of treatments that were designed to treat hair that’s been exposed to too much chlorine or hard water, respectively. “Following the instructions will keep the hair relatively clear of build up if used consistently,” says Koyanagi.
Below, the experts recommend more of their favorite at-home products to neutralize green hair. Redken’s Pre Art is often used in salons as an intense clarifying treatment, but the following products are these stylists’ top picks “if going somewhere else to get your hair washed is not an option,” says Clemente. Keep in mind that Clemente explains that living in a home with hard water makes any of these at-home treatments a bit more difficult to use, since you’re rinsing with hard water, which is why you may want to invest in a shower head filter.
1. Before The Pool, Spritz Leave-In Conditioner Through Your Hair
“If hair is green from a chlorine pool, I’d suggest a cap or at least wetting the hair and adding a leave-in conditioner before entering the pool,” says Koyanagi. With almost 5,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, Kenra’s Daily Provision Leave-In Conditioner gives your hair protection from the elements without weighing it down. It’s the perfect weapon to provide a barrier between your hair and the pool’s chlorine to reduce the amount of mineral buildup on your strands, and it also adds shine, protects from heat, helps your hair resist humidity, and hydrates.
2. After The Pool, Cleanse With A Detoxifying Shampoo
After the pool, reach for a clarifying shampoo like L’Oreal’s Metal Detox to help strip your hair of the chlorine and other minerals that can cause those green tones. This sulfate-free shampoo helps prevent color shift after the pool, and if you live in an area with hard water, it’ll help remove some of those minerals from your hair, too. The shampoo also gives your hair more luster and strength to help reverse the effects of mineral buildup. There’s also a Metal Detox treatment mask (which you can use in lieu of conditioner) if you’re interested in that, too.
3. Use This Pro-Favorite Treatment To Strip Your Hair of Chlorine & Minerals
As far as keeping your hair healthy after regular dips in the pool, Malibu C’s Swimmers Wellness line is pretty much the gold standard. Their Swimmers Wellness Hair Remedy comes with three packets, each containing a powder treatment. Use the product after shampooing — pour the crystalized product (which is primarily ascorbic acid, or vitamin C) into your wet palm and dissolve with a bit of water before running it through your hair and letting it sit for five minutes. After rinsing, chlorine, minerals, and any associated green tint should be stripped from your hair. They also carry a Hard Water Wellness Hair Remedy, if you’re dealing with hard water in your home.
4. Or, Mix Up A DIY Treatment Using Laundry Powder
Another genius way to strip your hair of any green color or mineral buildup, Clemente says her “secret little tool” is powdered laundry detergent. The ultra-concentrated formula can strip hair more powerfully than a basic shampoo in an emergency. Clemente notes that it’ll likely make your hair feel dry afterwards. “Just use some good old conditioner and you’ll be fine,” she says, adding that it won’t cause breakage.
5. Purify Hard Water With A Filter For Your Shower Head
If your greenish hair is the result of hard water or copper pipes, not the pool, consider investing in a shower head filter like the AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter. Hard water “makes at-home remedies harder” because you’re rinsing them out with mineral-filled water, explains Clemente. For that reason, she recommends a shower head filter as one of the best lines of defense against green hair. This shower head filters out minerals like chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, calcium, and iron oxide, which can help your hair (and skin) feel softer and less dry.