What is the Meaning of pH?
pH is an acronym that means the Power of Hydrogen. It is a parameter that describes the concentration of hydrogen ions in water-based solutions. The numbers on the pH scale indicate the level of acidity or alkalinity. PH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Acidic solutions fall in the range between 0 and 6.9, while alkaline solutions measure above 7. A pH value of 7 is considered neutral.
What is the pH of the Scalp and Hair?
The pH of the scalp is about 5.5 just like other parts of your skin, while the pH of the hair falls into the range of 4.5 to 5.0. The slightly acidic nature of sebum helps to keep the cuticle sealed and healthy while fighting bacteria and fungi.
The Effects of Acidic and Alkaline Products on the Hair
Hair care products you use tend to affect the pH level of your scalp and hair. To keep your tresses healthy and beautiful, it is important to use hair products that have the same or similar pH levels as your scalp and hair.
Some hair products can disrupt the natural pH balance of your hair. Products that are too alkaline will raise the hair cuticle, causing the hair to become dry and brittle.
Hair products that are more acidic will cause the cuticle to contract, making the hair to look smoother and shinier. However, too acidic hair products can make hair resistant to hair treatments.
The rule is that your hair care products should have a pH level close to human hair.
How Can I Check the pH of Hair Care Products?
Manufacturers often fail to state the pH level of their hair products on the label. However, you can determine the pH level of your hair care product with pH level test strips. You can purchase them in most beauty supply stores. To measure the pH level, pour the product into a glass and dip the test strip into the liquid. Allow it to stay for the recommended time, then remove it and compare the result with the chart that was provided with the test kit.
The pH Value of Hair Shampoos
It is important to note that the pH value of a hair shampoo can have positive or negative effects on the health and appearance of your hair. The rule of the thumb is to use shampoos that have a pH level close to your hair.
When you use a sulfate-based shampoo, chances are that the natural pH levels of the hair would be disrupted. On the contrary, your hair and scalp will benefit from using a sulfate-free and pH balanced shampoo.
The best pH level for hair shampoo is between 5 and 7. Anything above tends to disturb the cuticles and can cause irritation to the scalp. Roughed cuticles increase friction between the fibers, making hair prone to tangling and breakage.
If your hair is dry and frizzy, you may want to use a hair shampoo that is slightly acidic. This ensures that hair cuticles will remain closed, preventing moisture loss from your hair. Shampoos with lower pH also help tame frizz and reduce static on the surface of the hair.
If your hair is color-treated, keep in mind that shampoos with pH value above 5.5 may open the hair cuticle, resulting in color fading. PH balanced, or slightly acidic shampoos (lower than 5.5) help to seal the cuticle, keeping the color vibrant for longer.
If you have curly hair, it could be beneficial to use a shampoo that has a slightly acidic pH value. Using acidic shampoos helps smooth the cuticles to lock in moisture and reduce frizz.
It is advisable to use pH balanced hair shampoos on straight hair. It is easier to restore and maintain an ideal pH balance of straight hair than for other types of hair texture.
Clarifying and Chelating Shampoos have a higher pH level (around 8) than ordinary hair shampoos. A high pH level is needed in order to lift the cuticles and remove buildup and mineral deposits from the hair. Make sure to follow with a good conditioner. Lower pH value of hair conditioner helps flatten the cuticle, reducing frizz and making combing easier.
The pH of Children’s Shampoos is between 6.0 and 7.0, which is within the physiological pH range. No tear concept requires this higher pH range. However, if you have curly, frizzy, or colored hair you might want to stay away from children’s shampoos.
Alkaline shampoos (pH above 7) should be avoided because they have a tendency to strip your hair of naturally acidic sebum, which has the capacity to fight bacteria. Using a balanced pH shampoo helps eliminate problems with fungi and bacteria and improves the overall condition of your scalp and hair.
The Balancing Conditioner has a pH level within the range of 3.9 – 4.6. This slightly acidic nature of the hair conditioner helps to close the cuticles, leaving the hair smooth and shiny.
Popular pH balanced shampoo brands include Pharmaceutical Specialties Free and Clear Shampoo, Clear Shampoo by DHS, Everyday Shampoo for All Hair Types and Sensitive Scalp by Sebamed, and Soapberry for Hair by Tree to Tub.