Rx to the doctor or pharmacist is what pH is the hairstylist. The pH scale ranges from 0.0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline) with 7 being the neutral state. The hair itself has no pH since it is solid; however, the protective mantle of the hair has a pH level of about 4 – 5.5.
|Natural pH balance level||
4 – 5.5
|What if natural balance is disturbed?
|Substances that are too alkaline (pH level 5.5+) cause hair to swell and hair cuticle to open i.e. high porosity hair
Substances that are too acidic (pH level >4) cause hair cuticle to contract (People with low porosity hair should be aware of this aspect as well)
|Products that are too acidic might dry the scalp causing irritation. That said, some bacteria will thrive more in alkali environment|
|How to create pH balanced hair care routine?
|Use hair products that are within the range of 4 – 5.5 pH level.
Some hair products have labels indicating their pH level. If there is no indication, then you should test the product using the pH strips
Products that have pH level of 4 – 5.5 are safe and ready for use.
Products that exceed the happy hair pH balance will need to be “reformulated” at home: alkali products need an acidifying agent in order to reach the happy hair pH range. Before I go to cover the acidifying agents and reformulating procedure, I wanted to point out the reason why proper pH balance is of utmost importance: pH is logarithimic that is each number multiplies itself by ten. For example, pH 8 is ten times more alkaline than pH 7 while pH 6 is ten times more acidic than pH 7. As such, seemingly small change in pH goes a long way.
Hair product “reformulation”
For better result, it would be best to pour hair product that is too alkaline into a bowl and mix it with the acidifying agent in a separate bowl.
Following are some of the acidifying agents to consider:
|Aloe Vera juice||3.0 pH level|
|Apple Cider Vinegar||3.0 pH level|
|Juice of lime of lemon||2.0 pH level|
Reformulating the product might take a bit of time and effort since when it comes to pH, a little bit can equal a big change. As such, it is suggested to add acidifying agent of your choice by teaspoon and check pH after every mix in. If the new concoction falls within the happy hair range then you can proceed with using the product. If the concoction is still too alkaline, you should continue the process until the product reaches pH level of 4 – 5.5.
pH balancing and sebum hair coating
Sebum, the oil that our scalps produce, naturally has pH balance that falls within the range of 4 to 5.5. In case you have naturally straight hair, sebum has no problem of reaching the end of your hair in order to provide the protective layer. If your hair more curly or kinky, the texture of the hair makes it difficult for the sebum to reach the end of the hair in order to provide adequate protective layer. Since sebum is not coating the entire length of the hair, curly hair aren’t pH balanced, tend to be drier and more prone to chemical damage. pH balanced curly hair will have more defined curls and will be less prone to frizz / being bushy.
pH balanced hair-care routine will benefit anyone and everyone but for people with curly and textured hair this is the most important step to getting hair healthy and under control.
General guiding principle of pH balanced hair-care routine
pH level of hair products should decrease as you progress through your hair care routine. This means that your moisturiser’s pH should be less than / equal to conditioner’s pH. Conditioner’s pH should be less than shampoo’s pH.
If you are using products within the same product line, they tend to follow this algorithm. If you are mixing the products, it is best that you monitor and adjust pH balance during your haircare routine.
Benefits of pH balancing
1) Hair and scalp resilient to bacteria and fungus
2) Reduction of hair breakage due to chemical treatment
3) Increased hair elasticity
Thanks for reading,