Hair Extensions Color Change After Swimming

What Can I Do to Fix Hair Extensions That Have Been Stained or Changed Color?


First things first. This information is intended for licensed professional stylists only and should only be used along with your training and professional judgement. Let's face it, you're probably here because you want to try to revive some extensions that have discolored and you really don't have much to lose by trying but we can't be responsible for the methods you try or the result you achieve.

Why Do Hair Extensions Sometimes Change Color?

This is actually the important part that will help determine the best fix. It all goes back to how human hair extensions are made. Before the coloring process, natural underlying tones in the hair are most often warm. Light blondes have a yellow-gold undertone. Darker blondes start out as orange or orange-gold. Browns have underlying tones of orange or red. Extensions reach their final color after spending up to a month in a dye bath. This is where violet and ash pigments are added to neutralize the warm tones. The dyes and pigments are not the same as what professional stylists use. They are designed to last much longer but their weakness is that they can react to external chemicals differently. This is why avobenzene in sunscreen, for example, will react with the dye in the extensions and change the color of a weft but not the color of the hair growing out of the scalp.

Other external aggressors like minerals in hard water, chlorine, salt water, and UV rays are on the list of things that can strip the violet and ash pigments away. This exposes the warm tones and turns the extensions brassy, pink, or orange.

That's where you probably are now if you're reading this.

Underlying Tones in Hair Extensions

Can Discolored Hair Extensions be Fixed?

Maybe. The first step is to go back and try to determine what external factor caused the color change. From there, here are some things you can try.

Keep in mind that rooted and low-lighted extensions can be more difficult since the pigments in each of the colors will be different. Color changes may only appear at the low-light or root. Color change can also be more prominent at the ends where the hair is more porous and the ends may have absorbed more of the chemical that caused a reaction.

Does Slavic Hair Have an Advantage Here?

It does. Slavic hair generally starts out closer to the intended final color. The initial color removal (lightening) process is less aggressive and less harsh. This leaves the hair smoother, healthier, and stronger before it goes into the dye bath. There will also be less of the underlying tone to neutralize so, if the dyes are stripped by external chemicals, the hair will still look closer to its intended color. Slavic hair tends to be a little easier to fix in this situation and, since it starts out stronger, it can often hold up a little better as you attempt to correct the discoloration.

Fix Hard Water Stains in Hair Extensions

Common Causes: minerals in hard shower water (hard water areas, wells, copper pipes) can stain the hair

Usually Looks: orange, pink, or brassy

Attempt to Remove:

  • Malibu C Hard Water treatment - follow mfr directions.
  • Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar Bath - 2 parts apple cider vinegar to 5 parts water leaving on for for 1-2 minutes then rinse - repeat if needed.
  • Kera Color Shot Therapy #kickbrass - follow mfr directions.
  • If none of those options work, as a very last resort try a Soap Cap - again, professional stylists only!
  • All of the above treatments are designed to clarify and deeply cleanse the hair. Dryness will need to be addressed with deep conditioning treatments.
  • After treatment, assess the wefts to determine whether or not they need to be re-colored, rooted, or glazed.

Prevent: have your water tested and use a water softener and/or a water filter based on test results

Fix Chlorine Discolored Hair Extensions

Common Causes: swimming pools, water parks, or over-chlorinated public or well water

Usually Looks: green

Attempt to Remove:

  • Tri Swim Chlorine Removal Shampoo - follow mfr directions.
  • Baking Soda + Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar Bath - mix 3 tablespoons baking soda with 9 tablespoons room temperature water. rinse the hair. apply baking soda mix throughout the hair. rinse with warm water after 2-3 minutes. next mix 2 parts apple cider vinegar to 5 parts water. apply to hair leaving on for for 1-2 minutes then rinse.
  • Malibu Swimmer Packet - follow mfr directions.
  • If none of those options work, as a very last resort try a Soap Cap - again, professional stylists only!
  • All of the above treatments are designed to clarify and deeply cleanse the hair. Dryness will need to be addressed with deep conditioning treatments.
  • After treatment, assess the wefts to determine whether or not they need to be re-colored, rooted, or glazed.

Prevent: fresh water rinse right before swimming, apply a leave-in conditioner to create a barrier, use Malibu Swimmers shampoo & conditioner

Fix Sunscreen Discolored Hair Extensions

Common Causes: improper sunscreen use or absorption of sunscreen that has come off of other swimmers

Usually Looks: orange or pink

Attempt to Remove:

  • Malibu C CPR Color Pigment Remover - follow mfr directions but extend the time in the bath if it appears to be working.
  • Kera Color Shot Therapy #kickbrass - follow mfr directions.
  • Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar Bath - 2 parts apple cider vinegar to 5 parts water leaving on for for 1-2 minutes then rinse - repeat if needed
  • If none of those options work, as a very last resort try a Soap Cap - again, professional stylists only!
  • All of the above treatments are designed to clarify and deeply cleanse the hair. Dryness will need to be addressed with deep conditioning treatments.
  • After treatment, assess the wefts to determine whether or not they need to be re-colored, rooted, or glazed.

Prevent: use zinc-oxide sunscreen only and pull hair up off of neck and shoulder

Fix Salt Water Discolored Hair Extensions

Common Causes: swimming in the ocean and some salt-chlorinated pools

Usually Looks: brassy

Attempt to Remove:

  • Diluted purple, diluted ash, or diluted silver shampoo bath - follow mfr directions but DILUTE WITH WATER and DO A TEST STRAND! THIS CAN STAIN!
  • As a very last resort try a Soap Cap - again, professional stylists only!
  • All of the above treatments are designed to clarify and deeply cleanse the hair. Dryness will need to be addressed with deep conditioning treatments.
  • After treatment, assess the wefts to determine whether or not they need to be re-colored, rooted, or glazed.

Prevent: fresh water rinse right before swimming, apply a leave-in conditioner to create a barrier

This information may not apply to all brands and types of extensions. Use of this information for brands other than Frame & Thread is "at your risk."