Washing off bleach or toner to discover that your hair has developed a green tint is terrifying. Thankfully there are many ways you can fix green hair at home using dye, toners, shampoos, or even more bleach. Here is your complete guide to how to fix green hair with cosmetics you can easily buy online.
The first question you may ask yourself is why hair turns green, particularly if it has never happened to you before. There are several reasons why hair turns green, but it all has to do with a lack of balance in hair pigments. Usually, the red in the hair cancels blue and yellow pigments from ashy toners, oxidized mineral buildup, or even a dark dye applied on hair that is too light.
There are several reasons why hair turns green, and learning how to fix ashy green hair color starts by figuring out why your hair got a green tint all of a sudden.
If you shower with hard water, rich in minerals, those minerals will slowly build up on your hair. This is not a problem with the water quality; pure water from a well can be high in minerals!
Another reason for hair to turn green is the chlorine in swimming pools oxidizing with other minerals in the water (copper, iron, manganese). This is the same chemical reaction that causes copper roofs to become light green.
This is a problem mainly affecting blondes who like to dye their hair ashy, but in some cases, it can be noticeable in brunette hair. Blonde hair has mostly yellow pigments. Ashy dye has blue primarily pigments, which cancel the orange brassiness in the hair. But when you mix too much blue with too much yellow... your hair turns a pale, ghostly shade of green. If you are bleaching your hair at home, you must be very careful to choose the right toner for the level of lifting achieved.
Many blondes who decide to dye their hair darker end up with murky green hair, and this is again a problem with balancing hair pigments. When you bleached your hair to blonde, you lifted most if not all of the red pigments from your hair. And this is great because otherwise, you end up with orange hair after bleaching, which is usually a big no-no.
However, if you decide to apply an ashy, brown dye to your hair to turn it darker later on, the blue ashy pigments will combine with the yellow in your hair to turn it into dark brown-green. Brunettes have enough red coloring on their hair to cancel that green and get a lovely neutral-colored brown hair, but you lifted that red pigment when you lightened your hair.
Pigments and hair dye are funny things. Strange underlying pigments might appear if you used to have very dark dyed hair and try to bleach it. Blue-black dye, in particular, tends to lift swampy green or blue, but some semi-permanent dyes also do this. This is because green and blue pigments are often used to manufacture semi-permanent rainbow colors and nearly black permanent dyes.
Unless your hair is natural and untouched, always do a strand test and be prepared to have to re-bleach to get rid of the formerly invisible undertones. If your hair is very dark, choose a bleach for dark hair and toner that realistically will work with the end base color. Do not assume you'll reach a level 10 platinum on one sitting, and buy Wella T14 to tone it because you will likely need at least a couple of bleaching sessions.
We need to turn to color theory and the color wheel to figure out what color cancels green hair.
The color opposite to green on the color wheel is red, but hair is not usually a bright green color all over. You may have lighter shades of green which are neutralized with a warm purple-ish color, or more towards blue, which would be canceled with a blueish toner.
It depends on why you got green hair in the first place. Pool green hair is likely to be paler in color, whereas if you got green hair from bleaching dark hair at home, you might have more blue undertones.
If you don't want to cover your green hair with darker hair color, you will need to neutralize the visible green pigments. You will need a toner or a warm blonde box dye with an intensity similar to your current hair color.
Opt for a golden or warmer color, even if you don't like warm tones in your hair. The warmth will cancel the green and blue pigments that make your hair green without noticeable.
If you are trying to dye your hair ash blonde at home and end up with green hair, you aren't alone. It happens to many people attempting to dye brown hair blonde without bleach, as the toning step is incorporated into the lightening process.
Hair dyes are a mix of pigments, and ash blonde hair dye has a lot of blues to make a cool color. Blonde hair has a lot of yellow pigment. Blue and yellow make dirty green.
If you bleach your hair and then tone it, you need first to make sure your hair is light enough, with less yellow pigment. And you must also ensure that the toner you are using has just enough blue or purple to make your hair nice, bright, and ashy, instead of smurf blue or swamp green. Getting rid of yellow hair after bleaching is not a one size fits all solution.
If you use a single process hi-lift hair dye, you may not get the balance right and end up with green hair if the hair didn't lift enough or the ash pigments were too intense.
To prevent a blonde dye job from going green, you want to carefully balance the cool toning with the actual base color of the hair. This is easier said than done, but a good rule of thumb is avoiding a dye designed for lighter hair than your actual base color when toning or dyeing.
If the damage has already been done and your blonde hair has turned green by the time you read this, you will need to embark on a color correction process. This can be done in three different ways:
Color correction is an art form, as you will need to be very familiar with color theory and able to judge the balancing pigments accurately. If your hair is very green, you may be better off heading to a salon for a professional to look at it and customize the right dye mix and treatment.
All hair colors can become green after the pool or lousy toning, but it's more noticeable in lighter tones.
The exception is the infamous shade of swamp green you can acquire if you dye blonde hair brown without filling in the red pigments beforehand. An ash brunette hair dye has many blue pigments, which, combined with the yellow in the hair, cause a very unflattering shade of swamp green.
The best solution to green tones in brown hair is to add red pigments to the hair by using a protein filler before dying your hair brunette. If you went from blonde to black hair, heavily blue-based, you might need to bleach again to get to a more natural brunette shade.
You can also include reddish color depositing shampoos or masks into your routine to cancel the green without having to dye again.
If your blonde hair has turned green due to hair dye, you will need color correction techniques to get the shade right. Thankfully it's not so difficult if you understand color theory.
Looking again at the color wheel, you want to add red pigments to your hair as red cancels green. But you don't want to add too much red, unless you want to become a redhead. The exact amount of red pigment and how to apply it to the hair will depend on your hair level, porosity and what end result you want.
For example, some people will choose to tone to get rid of green hair for a long time. Others will minimise hair damage by using a suitable color conditioner that deposits just enough red to get rid of the green tinge.
First, you need to assess why your blonde hair turned green. This will help you decide how to approach the problem and how to fix green hair correctly. We are into color correcting territory, so every solution will need to be 100% customised to your hair condition and color.
If the reason for green hair is too much toner or toner that has too many blue pigments, there are two different ways to go about fixing it:
You can tone green out of hair, but you will be using a warm-toned dye instead of the usual brightening toners. This is the opposite of getting rid of orange hair after bleaching but shares the same technique.
This works particularly well if you have dyed your hair green before and are trying to bleach it back to blonde. Green and blue hair dyes can be very stubborn, and it's challenging to get them out of hair even after bleaching thoroughly. Don't forget that if you have ever dyed your hair black, you will also be in this situation once the bleach strips away most of it.
Which toner gets rid of green in blonde hair? We suggest using Wella Color Charm T15 as it's very pigmented and rich in red tones to cancel the green. While the Wella Color Charm T14 is widely used for platinum blondes wanting to go even ashier, the T15 Pale Beige Blonde is more suitable for green hair. It has more red and golden tones and will give you a natural blonde.
When to apply toner to get rid of green hair? It depends on whether you just dyed your hair with a permanent dye or if you have green hair from the semi-permanent dye.
If your green hair appeared after dying your hair with permanent dye, apply Wella T15 right afterward while the hair cuticles are still open. You should leave it on for up to 20 minutes for evident dark green. If your hair is only light green, 5 minutes may be enough. Always keep a visual check on your hair, and wash the toner off when you can't see green tones.
If you have applied a green semi-permanent color (manic panic, directions, etc...) and want it gone, you should bleach or fade the shade as much as possible. Once the color is as washed out as possible, apply the toner.
If you have blonde hair and then dye it with a darker dye with blue pigments, such as an ash brunette, the mix of yellow and blue will make your hair swamp green. You are missing the red pigments that cancel the green and make hair brown.
This is much more noticeable if, for example, you used to have platinum blonde hair and decided that going an icy coffee shade at home was a nice change. Or if you apply black hair dye on light blonde hair.
But overall, most bleach blondes who want to go darker need to use a filler before their chosen shade of brunette... or risk going green accidentally.
In order to go from blonde to brunette, you will need to reverse the process of lifting hair. Even if your desired brunette shade is a cool shade of brown, your hair will still need red pigments to avoid becoming green.
You can do this right away on by dying with a warm brown on top of green hair. How warm depends on how green your hair is. Not enough warmth and you may end up with a green tinge, but too warm and the end shade may not suit your skin tone. Look at the color wheel again for guidance.
If your hair is just a bit green, possibly a tinge that can be seen in the sunlight but not outright swamp monster green, then a dye with gold undertones may be enough to fix it. To avoid more damage use a demi-permanent, color depositing dye with a low volume peroxide.
If your hair is very porous and has gone properly green after trying to dye it darker, you may be better off using a dye with actual red undertones. Auburn or copper, for example.
A hair rinse is a temporary color used to tone hair and enhance grey hair for example. Many people love applying a black rinse to make their hair glossy, but sometimes it can turn hair green accidentally!
This happens more often when people are dying their hair darker from a blonde base. It's a similar problem as what happens when dying blonde hair brunette with a permanent dye: the blue pigments on the black rinse mix with the yellow tones in the hair and cause green hair. If the hair doesn't have enough red pigments because they were bleached away, or they have washed out in the shower you get green hair.
Thankfully this is easy to fix by using a demi-permanent gloss with red undertones to cancel the green cast.
Another reason why your hair can go accidentally green is dying with blue semi-permanent dyes. Why does this happen?
In order to apply most rainbow dyes to their full effect hair must be bleached to a pale yellow first. If you use enough blue dye the yellow will be covered, and you will have blue hair... but as it washes out the yellow will be more visible and your hair will slowly turn green.
The best way to fix this is by re-applying the blue dye so it's more intense. However, if you want to achieve a pure pastel blue color in bleached hair you will need to use a violet toner such as Wella Color Charm T14 on hair level 10 (platinum) so there is no visible yellow at all.
If your hair is just not light enough for your desired shade of ashy or silver platinum blonde, you will need to bleach your hair again and tone afterwards. This will remove the green tinge and allow you to tone hair to your desired shade.
Keep in mind that toners, while making hair color look brighter, do not actively lighten hair. So if your hair wasn't blonde enough, no amount of ash toner will make it so, and will instead turn your hair greenish.
If you are looking at how to fix green hair without bleach long-term the alternative is to dye your hair darker. You can dye your hair with mahogany or red tone that is a base level darker than your current hair blonde color. Use a demi-permanent dye to avoid as much damage as possible, as you can use a lower level peroxide to deposit color without lifting.
The short answer is no. Purple shampoo has violet pigments, which are opposite to yellow in the color wheel. It keeps blonde hair ashier and brighter for longer, by cancelling the unwanted yellow undertones, but it doesn't cancel green undertones.
So while purple shampoo is great for blondes and probably part of your weekly hair care regime, if you have to fix green hair you'll need something else.
Green and red are opposites in the color wheel and they cancel each other. A red shampoo will tone away the green in brunette hair, while a pink shampoo will keep blondes from going green haired.
If you can't find shampoo for green hair, a color depositing conditioner with red or pink tones will do the job as well. Just be careful not to leave in for too long, as you may end up with a warmer shade of hair than you expected.
Prevention is the best cure, and learning how to prevent your hair from turning green is even better than learning how to get rid of green hair.
Install a shower filter to avoid mineral buildup on your hair. If you live in an area with very hard water or can't install a filter, consider using a clarifying shampoo regularly. Chelating shampoos and treatments are designed to remove mineral buildup before the green tones become noticeable.
We have a full article on avoiding blonde hair turning green at the pool, but in short:
There are a few things you can do to avoid green hair when bleaching your hair at home:
The best way to avoid green hair when dying blonde hair brunette is, without a doubt, using a red protein filler before the dye. This will not only equalise the porosity of your hair and make the next dye apply more evenly, but it will add the required red pigments so the end result is a nice brunette.
Hopefully by now you know how to fix green hair, no matter what caused it. But if you aren't keen on dying or bleaching your hair again there are a variety of home remedies for green hair that can be used in a pinch to tone green hair temporarily.