I received a desperate phone call recently from one of my young clients (Ashley) who was experiencing the dreaded "green hair" syndrome after swimming in a friends swimming pool. Unknown to the girls, the friends father had just loaded the pool with chemicals and as it turns out the PH was too low.
Regarding Ashley's locks... the streaks of beautiful blonde highlights were now a true seaweed-green! I recommended a couple of Chlorine and Copper Removal Shampoos (Professional products: Paul Mitchell Shampoo 3, and Nexus Aloe Rid. Over the counter products include: Swimmers Solution or Ultraswim found at stores like Walgreens).
I also explained a removal process available in the salon called a Deep Clarifying treatment. Usually it will take one treatment to remove residue such as chlorine, minerals and other impurities.
The GREEN tinge is from the mineral Copper and is a result of an imbalanced of Ph. in the pool. Ever notice the gorgeous Green oxidation on a Copper roof? Looks great on roofs or statues but not so much on human hair!
Chlorine also strips the hair of natural (and protective oils) ion the hair shaft and the scalp. With extensive saturation, the chlorine leaves behind a tell-tale slimy feeling. The special shampoos will strip the chlorine (and green color along with remaining natural oils) and the the hair will need extra special attention and it's important to include a special conditioning regime to regain the hair's luster and sheen.
Prevention is the best medicine in this case. A common preventative is to leave your damp hair loaded with a thick conditioner and cover it with a swim cap or pile your hair on top of your head and try not to submerge it while swimming. The concept is that the hair cannot absorb when it is fully saturated with a conditioner. If you do go for a soak in a pool, you should wash and rinse your hair immediately after exiting the chlorinated water. The worse thing you can do is bask in the sun afterwards or let the chlorine dry in the hair. The sooner you remove it, the better.
The following 'home remedies' were found on the web:
"What works best with my hair to get the green out is to mix baking soda with a swimmers shampoo that is made to get the green out. Then let the mixture sit in your hair for 10 minutes and rinse it out. Make sure to condition afterwards, it kinda dries out your hair."
STYLIST RESPONSE: Using baking soda on the hair shaft could be damaging if you aren't very careful. If you choose to try this, gently massage only the areas that have the green buildup as the baking soda could be rough up the hair shaft and result in tangles and breakage.
TOMATO JUICE, SAUCE, SOUP or PASTE
~One way to get the green out is to take tomato juice and pour it in the hair. Let it sit for about 35-45 minutes and then wash it a couple of times to get the tomato juice out. The acid in the tomato juice will neutralize the chlorine.
~We also used TOMATO SOUP, and a shower cap and a 15 min bath. then after time was up too a shower and POOF we are blondes again! Best advice I have ever found! Will keep a stock of tomato paste in the cabinet.
STYLIST RESPONSE: I don't know if this works. My initial thought is that the Red of the tomato might combine with the green and neutralize it by 'browning" out the green. Red +green=brown. This would work with the same concept that Purple colorants in shampoo help neutralize the Yellow in gray or white hair.
ASPIRIN & WHITE VINEGAR
~The aspirin dissolved in white vinegar worked immediately! 6 aspirin in a bowl of white vinegar. I had my daughter lay on the counter and dip her hair in it. The hair was back to normal in a flash. Follow with normal shampoo routine. I find that wetting the hair & (if possible applying conditioner to the wet hair) before pool use creates a barrier for the hair.
~One of the best ways i found was to crunch 30 aspirin into a cup and add water to make a paste then spread onto hair leave on for about 15 minutes and rinse.
STYLIST RESPONSE: Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. Salicylic acid if found in facial exfoliators and gently dissolves away dead skin cells. If you chose to try this home remedy then I would suggest working on a small section at a time, rinse and see how it looks before proceeding. Vinegar is an acetic acid solution and has a ph of about 2.4 to 3.4. (Home remedy for dread locks: Diluted apple cider vinegar can be used to deep clean dreadlocks, removing residue and even beeswax. One method involves spraying a mixture of one part vinegar to four parts water onto the hair, letting it soak in, rinsing with water, and repeating this process as many times as necessary)
PRELL SHAMPOO or LEMON JUICE
~My stylist said to use Prell Shampoo. It worked wonders and it stripped the green out almost instantly.
~I usually had to go the lemon juice route -- it takes time.
STYLIST RESPONSE: These are common methods I've heard of. Prell is an especially low ph (stripping) shampoo meant for greasy hair. Original Prell (or normal to oily) WITHOUT added conditioner is an inexpensive stripping shampoo that is recommended for the treatment of head lice. I'd say that is some strong chemical! There are other similar shampoos that will do the same thing, that is why there are so many 'hair color preserving' shampoos on the market currently. Lemon juice has a pH of 2.3 to 2.5. Anything below 3.0 pH over a prolonged period can have adverse effects on the integrity of the hair shaft. A pH of 3.0 - 3.5 is optimal.