Got frizz that just doesn’t go away? Breakage? Dull and overall just substandard looking hair? Here’s what you need to know how pH values balance your results, and what to do when it feels imbalanced.
What is pH
This chemistry is about measuring the hydrogen power in any type of substance. That scale ranges from 1-14. The basis is always water, and the pH of water is right in the center – 7. When pH goes lower than 7 in number, it means there is more hydrogen in that substance. When pH goes higher than 7 in number, it means there is less hydrogen (more hydroxide). Being higher or going lower than the normal pH scale causes big chemical changes in your hair. Here’s a visual.
pH values you need to know
- pH 7 means neutral.
- Healthy hair pH is between 3.5-5.5
- Shampoo pH ranges between 3.5-9.0
- Bleaching pH ranges between 8.0-9.0
- Permanent hair colors start from 9.0 to as high as 11.0.
The ideal pH value for healthy hair
This is 3.6 for hair, and 5.5 for your scalp. This shows that hair wants to be in a slightly acidic place. Being in this range makes hair feel stronger, tighter, shinier. But too much acid will cause dryness. Therefore, don’t use hair products having pH values lower than 3 or higher than 6! Any value higher than 7 is considered as alkaline. Just washing hair often can increase the pH value of your hair. Higher pH levels raise cuticles and create gaps! Leading to losing more protein and moisture from your hair. This results in hair staying continuously damaged, dry, with breakage. Study source.
pH Disruptions in hair
Color/chemical treatments or even styling with various hair products disrupt the pH balance. Other pH disruptions include humidity, pollution, UV rays. Disrupted pH shows your hair is off balance. Signs like unmanageable frizz, breakage, dullness are just symptoms, not problems. The problem could be the imbalanced pH of your hair (or substandard service at the salon).
Products that are more alkaline increase hair’s pH, causing more disruption. Continuous loss of moisture leads to dryness, then breakage, and eventually hair loss. Since Sodium hydroxide is considered both a highly caustic base and a strong alkali, I suggest you avoid it in your hair products. Read more interesting information from Michelle on this ingredient here.
How to know the pH of your hair products?
The easiest and most affordable method is trying paper pH test strips that come with a color guide. Just dip the strip into the product, see what color compares with the chart, and you’ve got a reading.
Balancing the Hair’s pH
When hair’s pH is properly balanced to its ideal pH (see values above), cuticles are closed, hair appears smoother and shinier! After you get your hair colored, make sure you get an acid wash done at the salon to neutralize the high pH values created during the coloring process. If your salon doesn’t offer acid wash post color service, you can always do apple cider vinegar rinses at home. A healthy pH of your scalp prevents issues like dandruff and flaking. This is exactly what happens every time I do the ACV rinses or clay masks! ACV rinses help seal the cuticles, increase shine and softness to your hair. It also prevents dandruff and scalp issues by removing buildup, and balancing the pH of your scalp!
ACV Rinses can neutralize alkalis.
The pH of apple cider vinegar is about 2-3, which is considered mildly acidic. When diluted with water and applied to hair, ACV Rinses help neutralize the (high pH) alkaline nature of your hair. This is an affordable way to bring your hair back towards the acidic level. When your hair’s pH is very high that’s when alternating with ACV rinses help cancel the high pH values. Go meet your hair halfway this way! Learn more about ACV Rinses here.
In much the same way, clays are highly alkaline while undiluted vinegar is highly acidic. Mixed together can neutralize pH for your hair; helping you reset your hair to its best, most healthiest state. Learn how to do clay masks here.