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Can Ketchup Really Get Those Green Chlorine Stains Out of Your Hair?


We love a wacky home remedy as much as the next person, but using ketchup in our hair to get rid of those green streaks from spending the summer in the pool is a new one to us. According to a hair expert, however, it’s not as crazy as it sounds — but there’s another method that works better. 

First, let’s get to the bottom of why blonde, gray, and other lighter shades of hair tend to take on an emerald hue after swimming. Many people assume it’s a reaction to the chlorine frequently used in pools, which isn’t entirely wrong. The pros at Pool Scouts explain that it’s actually a combination of chlorine binding with teeny tiny bits of copper also often found in water and forming a film that clings to the proteins in our hair. 

You know how the Statue of Liberty is made of copper and naturally turned green after being exposed to the elements? That’s essentially what’s happening to lighter strands of hair as they swim around in chlorinated pools. 

Shab Reslan, hair health expert and advisor for HairClub, explains why people reach for ketchup to fix this pesky problem. “The ketchup trend is all about balancing hair’s pH level,” she tells us. “Chlorine is an alkaline product that will raise the hair’s pH level. Tomatoes are acidic therefore using ketchup technically makes sense because it will help lower the hair’s pH back to its balanced number.”

A balanced pH will help knock out the discoloration and help reverse any other damage to your strands. Although she admits ketchup can work, Reslan cautions, “It’s really silly, however, because we don’t know what other ingredients are in there and I would imagine the red color could stain hair and smell awful.”

Instead, she suggests a better home remedy: good old apple cider vinegar. Reslan says, “If somebody wants another natural way to lower their hair’s pH, they could do an apple cider vinegar rinse using three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a bottle of water and rinsing their hair with that.” You can then follow up with your normal shampoo and conditioner routine.

Following Shab’s advice can also save you money considering a huge bottle of ACV is a bit cheaper (Buy at Walmart, $2.24) than a similar size of ketchup (Buy at Walmart, $2.88). Plus, a little vinegar goes a long way rather than slathering a whole bunch of the condiment on your strands. You can save the ketchup for your burgers and fries and still return your hair to it’s non-green glory!

Hairstylist Matt Newman offers another great tip to shield your strands before you even dive in. “If you want to protect your hair from chlorine in the pool, add a little conditioner to your hair,” he suggests. “It’s a great barrier from the chlorine on your hair.”

Now you can enjoy the summer fun without worrying about it taking a toll on your lovely locks!

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