My towheads have turned into toads. My daughters’ hair, once so golden, has gone green from too many hours in the pool. And the standard stuff at Target and Walmart didn’t get the job done. I called the professionals.
“Anyone can get ‘green hair,’” explained Kristina Norris, owner of Kids Hair Salon in Grossmont Center (619-464-4466; kidshairsalon.net). “It just shows up more on blondes. It’s not the chlorine in the water that does it; it’s oxidized metals in the water. They bind to the protein in the shaft of hair and deposit their color. The metal that gives the green color is copper, which is commonly found in algaecides. Adding chlorine bleach to a pool may contribute to the oxidation, but chlorine itself is not the cause o’ the green.”
What to do? “Start by getting your hair wet before you hit the pool or the ocean,” said Norris. “The cuticles — which are the protective outer layer of your hair — act like sponges. If they’re filled with clean water, it’s harder for pool or ocean water to get in. If you really want to take preventative steps, you can seal the cuticle with a conditioner prior to swimming. That will keep the copper from binding to the cuticle. And be sure to rinse your hair immediately after swimming.
“If your hair does turn green,” advised Norris, “you can remove the discoloration by using a shampoo that chelates the metal.” Naturally, she had a few specific products in mind. “Our swimmers’ treatment begins with Malibu C Swimmer’s Natural Wellness Treatment. It’s 100 percent vegan and contains a crystallized antioxidant vitamin complex that activates on the spot. It draws out buildup and then restores color, vibrancy, and manageability. Follow up with Malibu C Swimmers shampoo and conditioner, which help protect hair from discoloration and other damage done by pool water, spas, or saltwater.” The Swim Treatment is done at the salon ($11, including Malibu C shampoo and conditioner); shampoo and conditioner also available for purchase ($15 each for 9 oz.).
Norris finished up with a few general tips for summertime hair. “We recommend a summer haircut [$15–$19] to get rid of any dead hair. Every six to eight weeks is a good timeline for haircuts. Long hair can get pretty tangled after a summer swim day. Keep your hair organized; we recommend Wet Brush [$15] or Knot Genie [$15]. Another option is to style your hair in braids before hitting the beach. If you don’t know how to do a French braid, you can call the salon to sign up for our monthly braid class [$10], at which you’ll learn two or more braids. In a pinch, you can just twist your locks up into a quick bun. UV rays are bad for your hair as well as your skin; for protection, we recommend So Cozy Conditioning Mist with Sunscreen [$13 for 8.45 oz.]. Or just wear a hat.”
Swim West in Encinitas (760-635-8556; swimwestsandiego.com) recommended preventing green hair by using a pre-swim-in. “We sell Reflect H2O Pre Swim Gel [$14 for 14 oz.],” said Mackenzie. “It seals the hair, keeps water from soaking in. You wet your hair and then apply. We also sell H2O shampoo [$14 for 8 oz.] and conditioner [$16 for 8 oz.]; they’ll get the chlorine out of your hair and prevent the green.”
Paradowski’s Swim & Sport in Kearny Mesa (858-569-6946; paradowskisswim.com) carries UltraSwim shampoo and conditioner ($5.99 each for 7 oz.). “UltraSwim has been our best-known product and has been a part of U.S. Safe Swimming for many years,” said Tiffany. “It’s probably our strongest shampoo. The other popular brand is Malibu C. We have the shampoo and conditioner [$9.99 each for 8 oz.] or we sell them by the liter for $28.99.”
Over at Sally’s Beauty Supply in Sports Arena (619-224-5036; sallybeauty.com), the clerk told me about their clarifying treatment. “If the hair is green, you need a chelating treatment with our Ion Clarify one-time treatment [$3.29]. You shampoo the crystals into the hair, they gel up, and you rinse them out. That should remove the green. Then we have the Ion Swimmer’s shampoo [$7.19 for 12 oz.] and conditioner [$8.49 for 12 oz.], which help to maintain the hair and prevent the green.”