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Blog: What’s PH Got To Do With It?

Balance your pH

Studies have shown that the pH of hair has a great effect on its resilience.  The pH is measured on a scale from 1 to 14. Solutions closer to 1 are “acidic” while solutions closer to 14 are “basic”. Water is at the center of the scale neutral with a pH of 7, which is more basic than your hair. Typically, pH of the scalp is 5.5, while pH of the hair shaft 4.5-5.

When hair is immersed in a neutral solution between pH 4.5 and 6, the hair is more elastic and less likely to break. However, hair placed in more acidic or more basic solutions has an increased likelihood of breaking. For this reason, you should pay attention to the pH of your hair products and in what order you’re using them. Shampoos and conditioners work by changing the pH of your hair and scalp. The pH levels of your products should be balanced in order to effectively cleanse, moisturize, then reseal the hair cuticle to set your pH back to a healthy range.

Shampoo with a pH of 5 – 7

Shampoos are designed to cleanse the scalp, but they also make the hair shaft more basic opening hair cuticles. The more basic the solution, the more the cuticle scales of each hair will swell and open. Scalp treatments for dermatitis, seborrhea, alopecia, psoriasis, the shampoo must be basic enough to cleanse but not too harsh as to preserve the softness and health of the hair. If your scalp and hair are too basic, you may experience issues with scalp fungi or bacteria. You may be using a product that has a high pH above 7 stripping away naturally acidic sebum that fights bacteria.

Condition with a pH of 3.5 – 5.5

After using a shampoo of pH higher than 5.5, conditioner of low-pH should be applied so that cuticle scales may be resealed for reduced frizz and tangling. Use a natural acid to bring your hair into an acidic pH range and close the cuticle of your hair shafts. With acidic solutions, the cuticle is closed and lays flat allowing better light reflection for shinier hair. A flat cuticle also allows better slippage between individual hairs which help reduce tangling and breakage. Apply leave-in conditioner to wet hair to return your hair to a pH of 4.5 – 5.5 natural acidity and seal in water moisture.

Properties of your hair such as hair porosity, how oily it is,  or how dry it is will dictate which pH solutions your hair needs. For more on choosing particular products for your hair, check out our previous blog on Hair Porosity, and try testing and balancing the pH levels of your favorite products.