How to guard against curly hair chlorine damage

While chlorine compounds in pool water strip the hair’s natural moisture, those bleaching chemicals aren’t entirely to blame for yet another damaging side effect — when hair turns green! The buildup of hard metals in your pool water, particularly copper, is the real culprit, according to pool expert Alison Osinski, owner of Aquatic Consulting Services in San Diego, Calif. Chlorine can oxidize the copper in pool water, which then attaches to the hair and casts that awful greenish hue.

“The metals could come from your source water or from products you add to your pool water, such as algaecides with a copper base,” Osinski explains. “You should test your pool water and monitor it for metals like copper (which is most common), brass, iron and manganese. Read the labels on the products you use in your pool. You can buy a test kit or take a water sample to your local pool store and have them test it for you.”

If it’s too late and your child’s hair is already turning green, there are some immediate steps you can take to neutralize it.

“Right when you get out of the pool and before your hair completely dries, if you don’t have a clarifying shampoo, you can rinse your hair in tomato juice, white vinegar, lemon juice or a paste of crushed aspirin and warm water,” Osinski says. “Any of these will work because they are basically citric acid and will cause the metals to drop out of your hair.”

Once they’re out, keep them out, with continuous conditioning and a little tress-loving care!

Expert Tips

  • Immediately after a swim, rinse hair with fresh water, and if possible, use a clarifying shampoo or conditioner.
  • Add conditioner before a swim, then continue to spray a leave-in conditioner every time your curly steps in and out of the pool.
  • Immediately after a swim, rinse hair with fresh water, and if possible, use a clarifying shampoo or conditioner.
  • Wear a bathing cap in the pool.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb, instead of a brush, to reduce breakage.
  • If you must use a blow dryer, use a cooler setting.
  • Test and monitor the hard metals in your pool water.
  • Remove damage with a good haircut at the end of the summer.

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Teri Evans