Understanding pH Balance and Hair pt. 2
When applying products to our hair, balance is key. For our hair to stay healthy, the pH must stay the same. This is why hair products are usually pH balanced. The company takes pH into consideration when creating products. Cuticle layers play a very important role in the health of your strands since it's the first barrier of protection against the inner cortex of the hair shaft.
Just a little recap, pH is the measurement of how alkali or acidic a substance is. It is judged on a scale between 0 and 14. Anything between 0 and 6.9 is acidic, 7 is neutral, & anything between 7.1 and 14 is alkaline.
Just to give you a couple of examples: a relaxer is on the higher side of the scale, normally 13, pure water is neutral at 7, and apple cider vinegar(undiluted) is around 3 and 4(diluted). A higher pH substance/product on the scale “opens” the cuticle and a lower pH “closes” the cuticle.
“Closed” cuticles prevent damage and breakage, reduce dryness, frizz & seal moisture. Since healthy human hair has a pH of 4.5/5.5, the goal is for your hair to maintain a pH around that level.
If you ever wondered why we shampoo first and condition next, the answer also lies with pH balance. Chemist Ewah states that clarifying shampoos contain a higher pH, normally around an 8, lifting the cuticle to infuse water & cleanse in order to remove build-up, which is the purpose of a clarifying shampoo. If nothing is done to lower the pH afterwards, then the cuticle remains lifted, leading to dry hair and potential damage.
How You Can Ensure Your Hair is Properly pH Balanced:
Using products that explicitly state they are pH balance is the most effective way to ensure your hair is properly balanced. Other options:
Using pH testing strips. If a product doesn't state whether it is pH balanced, then they should be tested to see how they affect your hair. A pH between 4 to 7 works well on hair.
Use an entire hair care line.
If formulated correctly, the hair care line should be created from high to low in pH based in the order of how the products are used for the best hair care.
If the pH is not listed on the product label, you can contact the company directly through email to ask if the product is pH balanced or inquire about the pH level of a specific hair product.
Many people don't know that shampoos have varying levels that can affect the health of your hair. Shampoos are formulated to be acidic because of the physical nature of the hair. The best pH level for shampoos is between 5 and 7.
Below I've included a list of several shampoos and conditioners that include their pH level. There are 9 slides. *Tap the picture to see the next slide. Some are a little blurry and I apologize for that. I tried my best to clarify it.
If your wondering about the pH level of your shampoo or conditioner, please refer back to the "How You Can Ensure Your Hair is Properly pH Balanced" section above.
There will be a part 3 and I will post it next week.
Sources: Hair Structure and Chemistry Simplified. NaturallyCurly.com. Science-y blog by Wendy. The Natural Haven Bloom