How to Neutralize Green Hair: Undo the Green!

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Green hair tones are not an uncommon problem, and can happen for a variety of reasons. We’re not talking Billie Eilish green!

But rather the greenish tinge that frequently occurs in light and blond hair.

Regardless of the cause, if it was unintentional, you’re going to want to fix it.

What color cancels out green tones in hair?

In this article, we are going to look at the different reasons your hair might have turned green. And depending on the cause, we will make some suggestions about how to neutralize green hair.


What Turns Blonde Hair Green?

These are the most common ways your hair can get a greenish tint.

1. Swimming

Probably the most common occurrence of unwanted green hair is due to swimming in chlorinated water.

And it’s not just blonde hair that turns green after a lot of swimming! Darker hair can also take on a greenish tinge after a day in the pool.

But obviously, it will be a lot more noticeable if your hair is lighter.

Contrary to popular belief, chlorine is not the culprit. Well, at least it’s not entirely to blame.

It’s actually the copper in water that causes your hair to turn green. Even tap water with a high copper content can give your hair a greenish tinge. 

However, your hair is more likely to turn green after swimming in a chlorinated pool. This is because chlorine oxidizes and bonds to the copper to form a film. The film sticks to your hair and turns green.

Take the Statue of Liberty, for example, it’s actually coated in copper and wasn’t always green.

Only after years of exposure to the elements did the Statue of Liberty oxidize and turn the iconic green color we all now associate her with.

Chlorine just speeds up the oxidation process.

2. Coloring your bleached hair brown

Ash Brown Hair Dye

Hair turning green can also be the after-effects of bleached hair not properly absorbing brown dye. 

The process of bleaching strips your hair and affects the way it absorbs color.

Applying a cool shade of brown (i.e. anything ashy) on bleached hair can cause it to turn green. This is because your newly-bleached hair has no red pigment, and the base colors of ash shades of brown dyes are red, yellow, and blue.

Blue and yellow make green, if there is no red to balance it out.

3. Toning your hair

Hair Toner

If your hair turned green after using toner, you may have left it in longer than recommended, mixed incorrect amounts of toner and developer, or used the wrong toner shade.

Toners with a blue base are used to cancel out the orange tones that often come as a result of bleaching darker hair.

If your hair is more on the brassy/yellow side, rather than orange, a purple toner (not blue) is the way you should have gone – blue toner on yellow hair makes green!

See also:

How To Neutralize Green Hair

If you’ve managed to find yourself with hair (or your highlights!) a not-so-flattering shade of broccoli as a result of a hair color or toner mishap, your safest option would be to go to your salon and get it professionally taken care of.

Seriously, quit while you’re ahead.

Chances are you got yourself into this mess by looking up “how do I color or tone my own hair” in the first place.

How’s that worked out for you so far?

If your hair has turned green as a result of swimming, we have some DIY green hair fixes below that you can try at home.

How to Cancel Out Green Hair At Home

If your hair turned green after you went swimming, the good news is your hair didn’t actually change color. That green you’re seeing is actually just an oxidized mineral buildup.

Copper and chlorine binding to the proteins on the surface of the hair shaft is what causes your hair to turn green.

Here are a few simple solutions to this problem that you can try:

Red Toning Shampoo

Red is the opposite of green, and therefore red shampoo will counteract green tones in hair.

There are several red shampoos on the market, but a good one to start with is Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo .

This is a color-depositing shampoo, rather than a toning shampoo. Although the red pigment should balance out the green in your hair, do a strand test first to see how your hair reacts to it.

Joico Red Shampoo - Refresh Red Tones, Boost Color Vibrancy & Shine - With Rosehip Oil & Green Tea Extract - 10.1 Fl Oz
  • Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo revives...
  • RED PIGMENTS directly attach to the hair...
  • KERATIN, a protective protein found...

Use a Clarifying or Chelating Shampoo

Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying and chelating shampoos are deep cleansers that were specifically formulated to remove residue and buildup. Toner functions as build-up, and clarifying shampoo will remove it. Since we are dealing with a buildup of minerals, both seem like a natural choice.

What’s the difference between the two?

Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but chelating shampoos contain specific “chelating agents” to remove minerals, metals, and chlorine that cause damage. Chelating shampoos will have one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Tetrasodium/Trisodium EDTA
  • Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate
  • Oxalic Acid or Sodium Oxalate
  • Potassium or Sodium Citrate
  • Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate
  • Sodium Gluconate and Gluconolactone

If you have color-treated hair, a lot of clarifying and chelating shampoos can change your color.

If you are just looking to get the green out and not change the color, maybe opt for trying one of the other options below if you have color treated hair.

Clarifying and chelating shampoos also tend to be very harsh on your hair and they are not meant for regular use.

That having been said, we have chosen a list of the most hydrating clarifying & chelating shampoos we could find:

Ketchup, Tomato Paste, or Tomato Juice

Ketchup , tomato paste , and tomato juice  are not only red – your counterbalance to green, but they also all contain citric acid. Citric acid is one of the common ingredients found in chelating shampoos.

Citric acid helps to break down the copper in your hair.

Apply a thin layer to your hair, use a shower cap or wrap your head in tin foil and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing with water.

Follow up with shampoo and conditioner.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice also contains citric acid that breaks down the copper oxides that are coating your strands. Just note that using lemon juice may lighten your hair.

Saturate your hair with lemon juice and let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse.

Coke or Club Soda

Coke or Club Soda can deoxidize copper from your hair instantly. Pour it all over your hair, then shampoo and condition as you would regularly.

If you have a dry, flaky, cracked, or irritated scalp – don’t try this method.


Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which combats the alkalinity of chlorine, and leads to the neutralization of your hair color.

Crush 6 – 8 tablets, then mix in a glass of warm water until they dissolve. Coat hair with the solution and let sit for 15 minutes, then shampoo and condition.

Apple cider vinegar & baking soda

Mix 1/2 cup of water with 1/4 cup of vinegar in a bowl.

Soak your hair in the mixture for two minutes. Then add 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda to the bowl while your hair is still dipped in it.

Let it fizzle for another two to three minutes, then rinse, shampoo, and condition your hair.

What Color Neutralizes Green Hair?

Red is your go-to neutralizing color to cancel out the green in your hair.

Will purple shampoo fix green hair?

Purple shampoo will not fix green hair. Adding a purple shampoo to green hair might even make your hair darker, but not take the green out.

Should you use green hair toner?

No, green hair toner won’t help cancel out green. You need the opposite of green, which is red.

Prevent green swimmer’s hair

  • Wear a swim cap.
  • Use a leave-in conditioner before swimming
  • don’t jump into chlorinated water with dry hair – wet it with regular water first
  • Wash your hair immediately after swimming
  • use a swimmer’s shampoo, like Malibu C Wellness Swimmers Shampoo 

Final Thoughts

Green happens.

Here’s the bottom line when it comes to neutralizing green tones in the hair.

If your hair is green because you’ve messed up your toning or coloring, get professional help to fix it.

If it’s green from swimming, try a chelating or clarifying shampoo, or one of the DIY hacks above. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).