For many, celebrating the Fourth of July weekend means cooling off by hitting the beach or the swimming pool. And if your hair is blonde, that could spell trouble, especially if your hair turns the shade of lime green jello.
Turns out, green hair has little to do with chlorine. It's actually caused by copper, the same metal you find in old pennies and copper pipes. Copper can get into the water through older pipes, (there's even been a report of green hair caused by old copper pipes in a shower), but most of the time the copper is added to the pool on purpose, in the chemicals made to fight algae.
Once in the pool, the copper can oxidize, like copper that's tarnished over time. You may have seen, the deposits have a blue-green tone to them.
But there's one more thing that sets the stage for leprechaun locks: an acid base imbalance in the pool. If the pool's pH is too high, the positively charged copper particles floating in the water look for anything that has a negative charge (opposites attract) and that includes your silky strands.
Processed hair, or hair damaged by chlorine, can certainly be more susceptible, but the copper can deposit on hair of all types.
Getting it off can be tricky. Hair stylists often use a different chemical, a chelating compound called EDTA, to bind with the metal and pull it off.
Home remedies focus more on creating an acidic environment (stronger negatively charged liquids), to draw the copper off the hair shaft. Many tout vinegar, lemon juice, and even ketchup (tomatoes are acidic.) In the case of ketchup, you must saturate your hair, cover chunks of it with aluminum foil, and wait 30 minutes to see results.
Alas, there is something we can all do to help prevent the metal from sticking to our hair. Protecting your lovely locks begins with wetting it down with clean water before diving into the chlorinated water. Coating it with oils, like olive or coconut oils can also help, and so will a really intense conditioner.
Whether you have black, brown, or platinum hair, shampooing and conditioning after getting out of the pool is always a good idea. Clarifying shampoos (look for EDTA in the ingredients) can help, but if you overuse them, they can dry out your hair, and that could set you up all over again for the gremlin-green tint.