Chances are, you've heard about pH levels back in your school days when learning about science. You probably know how this number plays a significant role in many things around us, as pH determines whether substances are acidic or alkaline. But what you might not know is that pH also applies to the health of your hair and is crucial in hair care. In this article, you'll discover the natural acidity level of your hair and its importance in hair care. We'll also share some important insights you may have overlooked, which will surprise you with their impact on your hair's health. So, stay with me and share this knowledge with your friends and those who care about their hair for the benefit of all.
What is the pH level of your hair, and why is it important?
The pH level is a simple scale used to determine how acidic or alkaline a substance is, typically measured on a scale from 0 to 14.
- 0 to 6 is acidic.
- 7 is neutral.
- 8 to 14 is alkaline.
For example, the pH of pure water is 7, making it neutral. Any substance with a pH value below 7 is considered acidic, and above 7, it's alkaline.
For your hair, the ideal pH level for both your hair and scalp should be between 4 and 5.5. This natural acidity prevents fungi and bacteria from thriving on your scalp and keeps your skin closed and healthy, reflecting the overall health and appearance of your hair.
Disrupting the delicate pH balance can push your scalp towards the alkaline side, leading to flaky dandruff, making your natural hair look dry and brittle. Conversely, if the substance is acidic, it can constrict the skin, reducing oxygen supply to the hair roots, resulting in tangled and frizzy hair.
So, it's crucial to maintain the pH balance for healthy and beautiful hair.
How can you balance pH and avoid dry or damaged hair?
Most hair care products people use disrupt the natural pH balance of hair, leading to an imbalance and hair damage. But here's the good news: you can easily balance your hair's pH and protect it from damage and dryness.
Here are some useful tips to maintain the pH balance in your hair:
1. Determine your hair type and needs.
- Alkaline Hair: If your scalp is flaky, itchy, or prone to conditions like eczema or fungal infections, it's highly alkaline. This is often caused by using products with a high pH, above 7. To combat this, choose a pH-balanced shampoo with a pH between 6 and 7 to reduce dandruff and fight infection.
- Dry or Damaged Hair: Dry and damaged hair also tends to be alkaline, and you can balance it by using a silicone-free conditioner and leaving it on wet hair until it dries.
- Curly Hair: If your hair is naturally curly, the hair cuticle tends to be slightly open, which makes it appear dry or frizzy. Using a mildly acidic shampoo will help to seal the cuticle, making your hair smoother.
- Straight and Smooth Hair: For naturally straight or smooth hair, look for products with a pH balance between 4 and 7 to maintain the natural pH balance. The oils produced by your hair help keep the pH healthy, so avoid excessive washing to prevent pH imbalance or dryness.
- Colored Hair: If your hair is permanently dyed, the process often makes your hair slightly alkaline. Before adding color, it's treated with an alkaline substance to lift the hair's cuticle. Afterward, a strongly acidic substance is used to reseal it. This harmful process makes your hair alkaline and in need of acidic products to maintain hair health and prevent further damage.
- Oily Hair: Oily hair needs natural acid to balance the pH. You can use aloe vera gel to close hair follicles and keep the pH level in check.
2. Secondly: Check the pH of Hair Care Products
Before purchasing any hair care product, carefully read the labels. You should choose a product with a pH that suits your hair best. Generally, pH values ranging from 4 to 7 work well for hair.
If the pH isn't mentioned on the shampoo bottle you prefer, you can check it yourself to ensure you're using the right product.
You might wonder, 'How can I check the pH of a product at home?'
The easiest way to test the pH of your hair product is by using pH test strips, available at beauty stores and salons. Here are two methods:
Pour a small amount of your liquid hair product into a glass and attach a pH test strip to the glass for some time. Then, remove the strip and compare it to the pH scale to find out the pH level of the product. If the test indicates that the product falls outside the range of 4 to 7, stop using it immediately.
Now, you know the pH level of your favorite product and whether you need to make a change.
3. Restore Hair pH with Natural Remedies
A. Aloe Vera Gel
You can apply aloe vera gel directly to your hair and scalp to restore the natural pH of your hair. Alternatively, create a hair mask by combining one cup of pure aloe vera leaf juice, a small spoonful of honey, and two small spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar in enough water. Apply this mask and leave it on for 20 minutes before washing your hair with shampoo and conditioner.
B. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has an acidic pH of around 3. Be cautious when applying it directly to your hair. Dilute it in water to achieve a pH of around 4 before using it on your hair.
Apply this treatment to your hair once or twice a week to help control frizz and dryness.
4. Use Homemade Conditioner
Yes, you can make your own conditioner at home to restore the pH balance in your hair easily:
Blend the ingredients thoroughly, ensuring that the pH level is not less than 4.5 (as previously explained). Apply this conditioner to washed, wet hair and leave it on until it dries. Then, proceed with your regular hair styling routine.
How Does the Optimal pH Value of Hair Products Affect Your Hair?
Having well-balanced pH in your hair products has several benefits for your hair, ensuring it remains healthy and fabulous:
1. Maintains Moisture in Your Hair:
An optimally balanced pH product prevents excessive moisture loss from your hair without leaving any residues or buildup on your scalp. The natural oils produced by your scalp protect your skin and add shine. If your hair products have an imbalanced pH, it may disrupt your hair's natural pH, making your hair dry.
2. Healthy pH is Essential for Your Hair's Health:
Your hair consists of a significant amount of protein and keratin. An alkaline product with a high pH harms keratin, making your hair more prone to breakage. Additionally, it opens up your skin's pores, making your scalp more porous, allowing chemicals and pollutants to enter your hair.
3. Protects Against Unwanted Germs:
Bacteria and fungi grow within a specific pH range. Maintaining the pH of your hair and scalp ensures your scalp isn't a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria and fungi. A healthy pH helps preserve the natural skin flora (friendly bacteria and fungi naturally present on your skin and hair), which, in turn, guards against disease-causing germs.
In conclusion, to have healthy, vibrant hair, always maintain the ideal pH balance. So, knowing the current pH of your hair before choosing any hair care product is crucial. Ensure the product you select aligns with the nature and condition of your hair. I've detailed steps in this article about what to do if you've already suffered some damage due to pH imbalance. By applying the natural treatments mentioned above, you'll see remarkable results. However, if the damage to your hair and scalp is severe and doesn't respond to any treatments, it's advisable to consult a dermatologist.