Why Is My Hair Green?

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It is a misconception that chlorine turns hair green.
It is a misconception that chlorine turns hair green. (Image: colorful pool toy floating in a summer pool image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com)

Summer means sunshine and swimming. For those with natural blond or bleached hair it may also mean the threat of hair turning green. Understanding what turns hair green will make it is easier to prevent.

Chlorine

It is a common misconception that chlorine in pool water is what turns blond hair green during the summer. Chlorine damages hair by stripping the cuticle and even acting as a bleaching agent, but it does not cause hair to turn green. However, chlorine does encourage the effect.

It is a misconception that chlorine turns hair green.
It is a misconception that chlorine turns hair green. (Image: colorful pool toy floating in a summer pool image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com)

Copper

Copper is the cause of hair turning green. Chlorine causes copper to oxidized in water, which then binds to the protein in the hair shaft and deposits its color. This should not occur unless the pool or water source is not well maintained.

By binding to the hair shaft, copper turns hair green.
By binding to the hair shaft, copper turns hair green. (Image: copper pennies image by Joseph Pierce from Fotolia.com)

Treatment and Prevention

Sealing the hair cuticle with conditioner before going swimming will help to counteract the effects of copper binding. Rinsing the hair immediately after going swimming will also eliminate most of the copper from the cuticle. Another factor to consider is that bleached and highlighted hair is more susceptible to copper binding.

Washing hair immediately after swimming will help prevent hair turning green.
Washing hair immediately after swimming will help prevent hair turning green. (Image: haare bürsten image by Digitalpress from Fotolia.com)

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References

  • "The Hair Bible: A Complete Guide to Health and Care"; Philip Kingsley; 2003
  • "The Science of Hair Care"; Claude Bouillon; 2005
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