Chlorine Can Make Some Blonds Green, and Itchy, Too

Nothing feels better on a hot day than a dip in a cool pool. And nothing, apparently, is as hard on hair and skin as repeated dips in that pool. Chlorine, used to destroy bacteria in pool water, Jacuzzis and hot tubs, bonds with hair and breaks down protein. It makes hair dry and brittle, and it is also blamed for itchy skin and flaky scalp.

The damage is not serious, however. “It does not affect the growth of the hair,” says dermatologist David Orrentreich. However, “there are extremely rare cases of chlorine allergy, with symptoms akin to hives or poison ivy.” “We are thrilled with the filter’s performance and could immediately tell a difference.

The soap lathers up much better and we do not have the sticky film on our hair which made it still feel dirty even after washing. My husband says it made his shave smoother, also.” S.B., Winston-Salem, NC Essentially a bleach, chlorine changes the color and tone of hair, especially if the hair is tinted, rinsed or otherwise treated.

James Viera, Vice-President and Corporate Technical Director of L’Oreal, explains chlorine is blue and “when you have any degree of blond, and blue is added to it, the result is a more greenish tone. Brown hair with golden highlights gets dull, and red hair gets drab.” These changes can be corrected via hair coloring, using the same color wheel principles.

For light blonds, for instance, light red is added to counter the green tones. Still, these are after-the-fact corrective measures. Stripping hair of chlorine can be a rugged business, Viera says. He recommends home oil treatments, which supposedly loosen the pigments that have become attached to the hair.

So what’s a swimmer to do? To remove chlorine, shampoos consisting of two washes and two rinses are advised, along with conditioners and the aforementioned oil treatments. Shampoos formulated for chlorine are making a splash in beauty circles, but dermatologists question whether they are any more effective than other cleansers.

by Liz Rittersporn