The Effects of Chlorine on Colored Hair

By Jenny Seyfried

Chlorine has a damaging and dulling effect on hair, but it is especially harmful to color-treated hair. Chlorine is a bleaching agent and therefore can actually change the color of your hair if you're not careful. Take the proper steps to limit possible ill effects and keep your hair healthy and beautiful.

Woman swimming in infinity pool
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Damage

As a bleach, chlorine strips color from your hair. If you've dyed your hair a shade of blonde or have blonde highlights, those areas may take on a greenish tinge when exposed to too much chlorine. Hair dyed darker shades may become dry and brittle and lose shine.

Home Shower Water

The majority of tap water is chlorinated in order to kill bacteria. In most cases, chlorine in tap water is not sufficiently strong to have a major effect of hair, but if you're concerned, a filter can remove chlorine in your home's shower water.

Swimming Pools

Swimming pool water that uses a chlorination system rather than a salt water system can ruin color-treated hair. This is not to say that someone should avoid the pleasures of a pool, but be aware of the potential risk and take reasonable steps to ensure that the pool water's chlorine does not cause major damage to your hair color.

Prevention/Solution

Most chlorine damage to hair color occurs from swimming pools rather than shower water. To protect your hair wear a swim cap when you go swimming in a pool. If that's not possible, wet your hair in the shower before entering the pool so your hair does not absorb as much of the highly chlorinated water. For even more protection, wet your hair, apply conditioner, and rub it throughout your hair. The conditioner will coat the hair to help resist the chlorinated water while you swim.

Chlorine Removal Shampoos

Some specialty shampoos on the market are designed to remove chlorine from color-treated hair to limit damage. Using these shampoos is especially helpful after swimming in a chlorinated pool.