How to Fix Blonde Hair that Turned Green
Plan and save, plan and save all year long for that perfect vacation. At least that is what we did with three other couples. We rented a house and a guest house in Kiva Dunes, Alabama. We traveled 14 hours from our Southwest Missouri home to enjoy time with friends, the beach, the houses with a private pool, and so much wonderful food.
The anticipation of planning the vacation all year long and finally placing the deposit in February with myriads of white sand, ocean, and not only one lovely beach house but two running through our minds was finally over. We were so excited for the drive to end and to just relax in the pool. Sigh, it was going to be heavenly, or so I thought...
When we arrived at our weekly rental vacation home, we were exhausted. Everyone put their swimsuits on, got some snacks and drinks, and headed for the pool. There were 15 of us, including our kids.
I had clipped my hair up, but since I was not planning on getting it wet, I did not slick it down with conditioner. Since I have blonde highlights in my hair, my hair stylist has always warned me about my hair turning green in chlorinated pools. I have caught a lot of flack over the years for keeping my head above water. “What’s the sense of being in the pool if you aren’t going to get your hair wet?” I have heard it a thousand times. Nag, nag, nag.
The adults were laid back, sitting on the stairs going down to the pool and standing along the sides in the water. This gave the hyper kids who had been stuck in the car for hours on end room to play. All of a sudden the adults were getting in on the fun. I sat on my step in the water with only my shoulders and head sticking out.
I noticed when I got in the pool I did not smell chlorine. Hmmm… weird, but it is a different climate, so maybe they have to treat it differently. What do I know? My daughter swam up to me and said, “Mom, this water taste like salt.” Then my husband overheard and “tested” it himself.
“You’re right,” he said. “You should be able to get your hair wet.”
Now, here I am surrounded by some of my best friends who have nagged me for years about being too prissy to get my hair wet in pools. They hear my husband say that I can get my hair wet. Crap!
We are in Alabama, and I look out in front of me, and it looks like 14 alligators are gliding toward me. Before I can even stand up to jump out, my husband grabs my ankle, my daughter grabs my arm, then unidentified hands seemed to come from everywhere.
I grabbed my nose and down I went. I came back up and they laughed at me. I laughed too. My best friend said, “Your mascara is making you look like a raccoon, but at least you can get your hair wet.”
Throwing Caution to the Wind
I reach up and grab my hair clip, “I guess I won’t be needing this anymore,” I say and fling it the side of the pool. I feel a sense of freedom. At first it was just dread because, in truth, I hate getting my hair wet, but it was fun to be able to splash and swim and play like all the others. I was no longer sitting on the side like some princess who feared melting.
My hair hung down my back. As I sat or stood in the water, at least 4 to 6 inches of it was in the water at all times. It felt good.
The Night Goes On
After approximately 3 more hours in the water, our adrenaline high and the kids hyperactivity had slowed to a crawl. Everyone got out and went to their assigned bedrooms. It was wonderful because each bedroom had its own bathroom. My husband and I were lucky enough to have scored the guest house with our kids – BONUS.
We went to our guesthouse around 2 am. I felt so itchy from the salt water and decided to take a quick shower. I did not even look in the mirror. I just got in, washed my hair and rinsed off, and got out.
Oh, THE HORROR
As I stood in front of the mirror combing my hair, I noticed how extraordinarily dark it was on the bottom 4 – 6 inches. My eyes widened.
“Honey, get in here,” I yelled for my husband.
He stuck his head around the corner from our bedroom, and started, “What is… holy crap!”
“I know,” I cried. “It’s green.”
He just stared at it for a moment. Then he pursed his lips together as tightly as he could. I was so entranced by having Leprechaun green hair that I ignored him.
I puffed up and said, “I am not going to let this ruin our vacation.” I was trying to be so brave. We had spent a great deal of money to get two houses a boardwalk away from the beach. “But I won’t be laughed at either.” I am in tears.
I look up from my hair in the mirror, and my husband has his back to me standing at the toilet. He is peeing, and I notice his whole body is shaking. He is laughing. I donkey kick his leg, and cry, “It is not funny.”
He burst into fits of laughter and said, “It… kind of… is… a lit…little… funny.” He could barely speak. I wanted to scream.
I put my pajamas on and ran out on our back deck. My two girlfriends are still out drying off and getting ready to go in. I tried to be calm, but it came out pathetically, “My hair is green.”
One of my girlfriends looked up at me, and said, “Oh my gosh!”
“I know!” I cried again.
She said, “Send him over here, now. I have some swimmers’ shampoo.” She had her own pool back home and always carried the special shampoo with them.
I said, “All right,” and yelled over my shoulder, “Go next door for some special shampoo.” I heard heavy footsteps going down the stairs. There was no more laughter.
She said, “Have you washed it already?”
“Yes,” I said with fear.
“Okay, okay. It may still be all right. Did you condition it?”
“Yes,” with more fear in my voice.
She didn’t say anything. I burst out, “What? What?”
She said, “Darlin’, the conditioner may have set it. That is why you have always wet your hair and put conditioner in it so the chemicals couldn’t get to the follicle of your hair.”
I wanted to melt into the deck. Feeling like a complete loser, I went into the house. I heard her yell, “Now, don’t worry! This shampoo should help.”
Oh, sure, I thought. You aren’t the one with green clown hair.
The Search for a Fix
I shampooed my hair with the swimmers’ shampoo four times. I let it sit in my hair for 20 minutes each time. It did fade the green, but it didn’t take out all of it. I could only cry.
Everyone else was in bed while I agonized. I got my netbook out. I started a Google search on “How to Fix Blonde Hair when it Turns Green.” I read some forums, and many said, “Do not condition it.” Some forums just had people laughing at the person who asked for help and then told the poor green-headed person that they hoped the new haircut turned out well with lots of LOL’s afterwards. I even read a few posts about using ketchup, but all of them were shot down as it being a failure. I was officially depressed and went to bed. I think the sun was rising over the ocean, but I didn’t care.
About four hours later, I woke to my husband tapping me on the arm. “Sweetheart, wake up. I think I have figured it out.”
I sat up and saw that he was sitting next to me with a bottle of ketchup. I moaned and fell back on my pillow. “I already researched it. All the forums said it wouldn’t work.”
He had been up searching for fixes, too, and he said, “Not the ones I was on. Since it is a salt water pool, it is probably the algaecides they use in it that turned your hair green. The vinegar and the acid in the ketchup will act as a neutralizer and help strip the green out.” Not being a patient man, and definitely not knowing how to deal with a crying woman, he demanded and pulled my arm, “Get up, you’re trying it.”
I got up, went to the shower, wet my hair then soaked it in ketchup. My husband stood outside the door an yelled, “Just stand there for 20 minutes.”
I did, and the acid and vinegar in the ketchup was stinky and itchy. I rinsed. Still green.
“Do it again,” he told me. “It may take several times.
After four more ketchup washings and two more swimmers’ shampooings, the green had faded. I could still see a tinge, but it had faded enough to give me hope.
I couldn't believe it was working. I was prepared to spend as much money as it took to get my blonde hair back from the bowls of Leprechaun hell. I cannot believe I already had the fix with us. I bought that bottle of ketchup to put into the community food and snack reserve. Best money I ever spent.
Get Ye to a Stylist
Later that day, all of us girls went to Wal-mart. Feeling self-conscious, I put my hair up in a clip. There was still a definite green streak when all my hair was clipped together on top of my head. While we were in the store, we noticed that there was a hair salon. The other girls went on to shop, and I stayed to talk to the stylist.
“Well, any clarifying shampoo is going to help. You will probably need to get your ends cut when you go back home and let your hair rest. It has been through quite a trauma.” She handed me some Paul Mitchell clarifying shampoo.
By that evening, after two washings with the new shampoo, my hair began looking more normal. It did strip my highlights, but I didn’t care as long as it wasn’t green.
When I returned home, I had my stylist cut two inches off and layer it. I got the green under control while on vacation and a new hair style when I got home. I was ready for the change. So all’s well that ends well.
Final Thoughts and Advice
Before going on vacation or going swimming in a pool, any kind of pool, always wet your hair and slick it down with conditioner. I think if I had not been lazy and just taken it for granted that I was not getting my hair wet that night, I could have prevented the green hair. If you have blonde hair, highlights, or color, do not take chances. The major mistake I made was washing and conditioning after I got out of the pool. Be sure to have clarifying shampoo on hand at all times.
Steps in the Process
1. Wash with clarifying shampoo.
2. Wet hair and soak it down with ketchup.
3. Let it set for 20 minutes.
4. Rinse hair and check color. Repeat if necessary.
5. Don’t dry hair or use any kind of heat on it until you get it back to where you want it.
If you have other solutions, please share them in comments.
© 2011 Susan Holland