Is Your Kid’s Hair Turning Green in the Pool?


Spoiler Alert: It’s not the chlorine.

Summer’s here, which means swimming season is upon us. From pool lessons to lake swims, chances are your kids are going to get wet, which means their hair will be exposed to all of the wonderful chemicals and minerals found in treated and untreated water, which could result in (gasp) green hair!

I’ve had a few clients at Turning Hedz recently ask me how to keep their daughters’ hair from turning green in the water, especially chlorinated pools. This is one of the great mysteries in life. Why, exactly, does hair turn green in the water anyway?

The answer may surprise you.

It’s not really chlorine (or pool chemicals) that causes hair to acquire that lovely emerald hue. This is a common misconception. It’s actually the mineral compounds found in regular water – specifically copper – that create the green cast. This can happen in the pool or even the shower. As the copper is absorbed through the hair strands, the copper oxidizes, resulting in green hair. Think of the roofs of the parliament buildings in Ottawa, the Statue of Liberty in New York, or even an old penny – they’re all green because the copper they’re made of over time has oxidized. Chlorine in a pool certainly helps the process by drying and damaging the hair, making it more porous and allowing for faster absorption. Even dark hair can take on a green glow, although it is less noticeable.

How do I stop it, you ask?

Here’s a list of to-dos before your kids take the watery plunge:

  1. Keep the hair well hydrated so it is less likely to want to absorb outside contaminates. Use a quality shampoo and conditioner as well as the occasional treatment. We offer a Glop and Glam Trial Trio “Pool Kit” with a clarifying shampoo and conditioner and detangler. Perfect for packing in your swimming bag.
  2. Before getting in the water, it’s best to have wet hair from a clean source. Once the hair has absorbed water (like a sponge), it is less likely to take on more water. 
  3. Coat the hair with some conditioner before swimming. This will create a barrier until it rinses out (best if long hair is braided and tied up as it rinses out slower).
  4. Avoid products (typically from the drug store) with higher pH levels, as they actually dry the hair (a level of 7, even though it is classified as neutral, is too high for hair’s natural 4.5-5.5 pH levels). Instead, choose professional products formulated to have the pH similar to hair itself, which keeps it from drying out naturally without the use of added coating agents. 
  5. If your shower water is hard, or your house has older piping (likely copper), consider investing in a water filter that fits right on the shower head.  

Swimming is tons of fun for children and adults, but make no mistake – your hair will be waging ware against those chemicals, minerals and additives. Help arm it with my preventative tips, and don’t forget – we have some amazing products that are designed to keep your hair healthy and free from the green.

Thanks for reading!