Magic Ingredient: Getting the green out of blonde swimmer’s hair

One day last summer, Skyler climbed on my lap and I realized her pale blonde baby hairs had all turned green!

I immediately turned to my friend Google to discover that the culprit is actually copper, not chlorine. Think: green pennies. So here’s what I learned works…


Did you ever clean pennies with ketchup when you were a kid? The combination of acid and salt is what does the trick: the chlorine ions bond with the copper in the solution, allowing the acid to break more of the copper oxide free. The same principle was put to work on Skyler’s blonde strands, leaving it on for a few minutes during a bath, and the green disappeared! Like magic!

One note: I wouldn’t advise leaving the ketchup on too long, for fear that the red of the tomato might leave some color. This summer I’m thinking I’ll try mixing vinegar and salt in a spray bottle, but the kids had more fun making mohawks out of ketchup.

Apparently the best prevention is pre-soaking the hair with tap water to prevent some absorption of the pool water—and rinsing again post-swim.

Have you had this problem? What are your tips?

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