Swimmer’s Hair

Swimmer's HairWhat causes “swimmer’s hair”?

Swimmer’s hair can be the result of such factors as acidic water (low pH), iron or manganese in the water, and electrolysis from water moving through recirculation pipes at excessive velocities. High levels of copper in the pool water can be absorbed, particularly by damaged hair, and will make light colored hair look greenish.

It is seldom caused by the water treatment chemicals in a properly maintained pool.

It is always a good idea to wet hair with tap water before entering any pool or spa to minimize the absorption of chemicals by your hair. It is also important to rinse hair after swimming.

If you’ve ever had “swimmer’s hair” you know how unattractive it can look!

Swimmer’s hair is particularly noticeable on light or blonde hair. Hair that is bleached or colored is more likely to absorb the copper that turns hair green. To avoid swimmer’s hair, try to keep your hair healthy and in good condition. Consider wearing a bathing cap if your hair is damaged.

Health and beauty experts recommend using a leave-in conditioner on chemically treated hair before entering a pool or spa to avoid swimmer’s hair.

The best preventative for swimmer’s hair is keeping the pH in the 7.2 – 7.6 range, avoiding over-treatment with PristineBlue® and using PristineClean on a regular basis. Refer to the Pool & Spa Care Guide for complete instructions.

Overuse of swimming pool algaecides that contain copper may increase the copper level in the pool until it is causing swimmer’s hair. Poor water chemistry may also dissolve copper out of a heater or other plumbing and leave a high copper level in the water. Green hair is a sign that something is likely amiss with the pool water and should be checked into in addition to treating the swimmer’s hair symptom!

There are commercial products available should hair discoloration occur. Below is a list of some of these products.

  • Alared (manufactured by Redken)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Shampoo containing chelating agent EDTA (ethylenediamene tetracetic acid)

Discoloration can also be removed by washing the hair in a mild vinegar solution followed with a mild baking soda solution to neutralize the vinegar.

Or rinse hair with warm water containing dissolved aspirin. Put eight regular aspirins in a glass of warm water, and allow them to dissolve. Saturate the hair with the aspirin and water, give it 15 minutes, then rinse away the aspirin along with the green tint. Wash and condition the hair as usual.

Another method to remove the discoloration is with dissolved vitamin C tablets.