Green hair can be quite the look, but not when it’s unintentional. It happens suddenly, usually after a long day at the pool, and suddenly your favorite pink top clashes with your hair. Having your blonde hair turn green is nothing short of maddening, especially if you spent a lot of time, money, and energy on bleaching it.
We’ve got some good news for you! That green tint is reversible. You shall once again bask in your bright golden locks. To truly address the problem, we took on a serious, scientific approach.
First, we’ll discuss the different culprits that can turn blonde hair green. Then, we’ll cover all the best ways to bring your hair back to its original color. Finally, we’ve got some prevention tips, to guarantee your hair will never turn green again (unless you want it to).
- Why Does Blonde Hair Turn Green?
- How to Fix Green Hair
- How to Prevent Blonde Hair From Turning Green
- No More Green
Why Does Blonde Hair Turn Green?
To understand how to fix blonde hair that’s turned green, it’s helpful to first understand why it actually happens.
Chemicals in the Pool
Most of the time, when blonde tresses suddenly take on a greenish tint, a chlorinated pool is at fault. Interestingly, chlorine isn’t the main chemical responsible for the new hue, although it’s certainly a contributing factor.
The main chemicals to blame are actually minerals—especially copper. Copper is the main component in algaecide, which is added to pools to prevent algae growth. Once the copper is in the pool, it’s exposed to water, chlorine, and the sun, all of which cause oxidation (i.e., rust), which turns it green.
At the same time, the chlorine in the water also opens up your hair cuticle, so the rusty copper finds its way into your hair strands and dyes them green. This entire chain of events is remarkably similar to the chemical process your hair goes through when you dye it.
You can also end up with greenish hair when you shower in hard water, for very similar reasons. Hard water is water that contains a lot of minerals, often including copper. The copper doesn’t build up or oxidize as much as it does in the pool. The result is a subtle greenish tint that shows up slowly over time.
This process isn’t exclusive to blondes, but it’s just that the greenish tint is usually too light to be noticeable in darker hair colors.
Another reason why blonde hair can turn green that isn’t often discussed is over-toning. Hair toners are essentially very weak hair dyes. They don’t change the hair color itself, but they can neutralize certain undertones.
However, using a toner that’s too ashy, leaving it in for too long, or toning the hair too many times in a row can cause what’s meant to be a subtle undertone to become a more prominent green hair color. If you’ve over-toned your hair, check out our guide to removing toner.
Finally, your hair may turn green if you attempt to go on a risky hair coloring journey. For example, trying to bleach hair that has already been dyed a darker color often leads to very unpredictable results.
The bleach can end up only stripping certain pigments while leaving others behind. Normally, the result is brassy or yellow-looking hair, but occasionally, it can turn green.
Natural vs. Bleached Blonde Hair
Both natural and bleached blonde hair can turn green, but it’s definitely more common for the latter. This is because dyeing process opens up the hair cuticle (i.e., the protective outer layer of the hair strand), so the hair becomes more porous.
As a result, it’s much easier for water and minerals to penetrate through bleached hair, where they stick around and can leave behind a tint.
How to Fix Green Hair
Now that you understand why your hair turned green, it’s time to fix it. These are the best and most effective methods we’ve uncovered.
Use a Clarifying Shampoo
If you’re a frequent swimmer or the water in your home is particularly hard, we recommend using a clarifying shampoo designed specifically for removing mineral buildup. Such a shampoo will clean your hair thoroughly, so the green tint should be gone in just one or two uses.
Our favorite shampoos for the job are the UltraSwim Shampoo and the Redken Hair Cleansing Cream. Both have strong clarifying formulas, and they also include disodium EDTA, a chelating agent that binds to metals and prevents them from building up in the hair.
Do a Clarifying Treatment
The next step up from using a clarifying shampoo is trying a clarifying treatment. We particularly like the Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Hair Remedy. Like a clarifying shampoo, the remedy is also made with metal-binding agents, but it’s designed to sit in the hair for a few minutes, which allows it to get deeper and eliminate more of that green tint in just one go.
- First, shampoo your hair.
- Then, mix the clarifying treatment with a bit of water so it forms a paste.
- Then, let it sit in your hair for 5 minutes.
- Rinse it out in cool water.
- Finally, do a conditioning treatment since it can be a little drying.
Do a Vinegar or Lemon Juice Rinse
If you love a DIY hair treatment, then reach for a vinegar or lemon juice bottle first. Any vinegar will work, but our favorite is apple cider vinegar (aka. ACV). It’s not overly acidic, and it also has the most pleasant smell.
The acidity of the vinegar or juice will have a chelating effect, which means that it’ll bind to the greenish minerals and remove them from your hair. These DIY acids are not as effective as the proven chelating agents in clarifying shampoos and treatments, but they’re a decent alternative in a pinch.
To create a rinse, simply mix your acid of choice with some water. The ratio will depend on the kind of acidic liquid you choose:
- Apple cider vinegar: Mix one part vinegar and one part water.
- White vinegar: The ratio should be one part vinegar to 16 parts water (i.e. just a tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of water).
- Lemon juice: Mix one part lemon juice with 4 parts water.
Finally, let the rinse sit in your hair for 10-20 minutes, and then wash it out in the shower.
Hair Myth: Vinegar and Baking Soda
Some sources suggest that you mix vinegar and baking soda, believing it’ll do a better job of cleaning the hair. This is a myth. While the initial fizzy reaction might look cool, once the two ingredients are done mixing, they neutralize each other, which leaves you with simple saltwater.
Try the Tomato Juice Method
If you’d like to dig even deeper into DIY methods, soaking your hair in tomato juice might do the trick. Tomato juice is a very weak acid, so it might help remove metal buildup from the hair, and it also has red pigments, which help neutralize the green tint of the copper.
Pour the tomato juice into a bowl and then dip your hair in it for 30 minutes, or rinse your hair with it and then wrap it up in a plastic bag. Afterward, shampoo and condition your hair as normal, and some of the green tint should fade.
Hair Myth: Ketchup
Many bloggers and even hairstylists sometimes recommend saturating your hair with ketchup to get rid of a green tint. As it turns out, not only is it kind of gross, but it’s also not very effective. It might work with a very mild green tint, but overall, it has a lower success rate than tomato juice.
Add Red Pigment
A final option you may want to try is to use a red-based neutralizer. It will tint your hair red, which will neutralize the green. This is the ideal fix for over-toned green hair or for a bleaching accident, where clarifying shampoos and mineral-removing agents won’t be as effective.
In a perfect world, you’ll let your hair colorist attempt this with a professional-grade red toner, since this complex level of color mixing can sometimes lead to muddy results.
However, if you’d rather try it at home, the John Frieda Red Boosting Conditioner is a great choice. It deposits a very minimal amount of color, and it doesn’t damage the hair at all.
How to Prevent Blonde Hair From Turning Green
It’s a lot easier to prevent your hair from turning green than it is to reverse a tint. As a bonus, these methods will also protect your hair from the other kinds of damage and dryness that pool water can cause.
Wet Your Hair
The easiest method of all is to wet your hair before hopping in the pool. No matter how porous your hair is, there is a limit to how much water it can absorb.
If you rinse your hair thoroughly in the showers, it’ll absorb the maximum amount, so the heavily chemical water of the pool won’t be able to sneak in and tint your hair.
Coat It in Conditioner
While soaking your hair in water will work, you can give your tresses an even bigger treat by saturating them with conditioner. Leave the conditioner in your hair when you swim, to give it a moisturizing boost while preventing greenification.
Try a Silicone Swim Cap
Most swim caps won’t keep pool water out of your hair, but silicone ones are the exception. They are totally waterproof, creating a seal around your hairline that prevents water from seeping in.
Rinse Your Hair Immediately
Once you’re done swimming, immediately hop in the showers again to rinse out all of the pool water. This is especially important if you forgot to pre-soak or pre-condition your hair.
The faster you get rid of the pool water, the less likely it is to stain your hair. If you have a clarifying shampoo on hand, you should use it, as well.
Keep It Strong
The healthier your hair, the less porous it’ll be, and the less likely it is that it’ll get stained by minerals in the water. There’s a lot that goes into keeping the hair in good shape, including avoiding excessive heat, keeping it moisturized, and using protein treatments. Check out our guide to hydrating bleached hair to learn more.
Get a Water Softener
If you have hard water flowing through your pipes, purchasing a water softener could be a worthwhile investment. It’ll prevent the water from turning your hair green, and it’ll have other benefits when it comes to the overall health of your skin and hair.
If you’re a homeowner, you might want to invest in a full system that’ll soften all of the water in your house, since in addition to helping your hair, it’ll also prevent scale buildup in your plumbing and appliances.
If you’re on a budget or renting, the AquaBliss Shower Filter might be a better choice. It’ll only filter the water in your shower, but it doesn’t cost much, and it’s effortless to install.
No More Green
From professional products to DIY rinses, there is no shortage of ways to bring your hair back to its normal blonde vibe. That green tint, whether from the pool or your shower, is no match for our gentle yet effective techniques. Even better? Now you also know how to guarantee it won’t happen again.
If your hair still looks a little spotty even after everything, have a look at our guide to fixing uneven bleached hair. Once you’ve done the hard work of bringing your hair back to its normal color, keep taking care of it! Check out our guide to moisturizing dry hair to learn more.