Did you know that pH is not only critical for skincare, but for your hair as well?
All hair care products carry a pH, the effectiveness of the products you use will depend on finding your optimal pH level. The pH level of your hair care products directly effects the balance of the hair cuticle.4 So, let’s take a couple steps back and first address the question: what is pH?
The term “pH” stands for potential of hydrogen. The level of pH runs along a scale ranging from 0 to 14. A pH level within 0-6 will fall on the acidic side of the scale, while a level between 8-14 will be a more alkaline, or basic state. A neutral pH is level 7; this is the pH balance of water.2,3,4
Acidic solutions are classified as having a high concentration of hydrogen ions – the more hydrogen, the more acidic something will be. When thinking of acidic liquids, stomach acid and lemon juice may come to mind. These fall low on the pH scale, meaning they are high in acidity. Milk and coffee have a pH of 5 or 6, which means they are low in acidity.3,4
Basic solutions have a low concentration of hydrogen ions – the less hydrogen, the more basic a solution will be. Soaps and bleach are highly basic, falling high on the pH scale. Baking soda and salt have a pH around 8 or 9, meaning they are low alkaline substances.3,4
Virtually all liquids and solutions are either acidic or basic in nature, including the products used in your hair care routine. So, how do pH levels interact with the hair and why are they important?
pH and Hair Care
Maintaining a balanced pH level is one of the most important aspects of maintaining healthy hair. Natural, healthy, undyed hair typically prefers a pH level around 3.67, and the acid mantle on your scalp usually falls around a pH of 5.5. The slightly acidic nature of the hair and scalp helps protects the hair from bacteria building up and maintains healthy moisture levels.1,2,3
The hair shaft is made of three layers – the medulla, cortex, and cuticle. The cuticle is structured of microscopic scales that overlap each other like shingles on a roof. Products that are higher on the pH scale (more basic) soften and lift the cuticle, allowing moisture and ingredients to enter the hair shaft. Products that are lower on the pH scale (more acidic) seal and smooth the cuticle, locking in moisture and ingredients.3,4
For example, shampoos are usually higher on the pH scale, and conditioners tend to have a lower pH level. Shampoos are expressly created to remove the buildup, debris, and oil while conditioning treatments replenish the hair to its natural acidic state.1,4
When the pH range becomes imbalanced, the hair becomes vulnerable to damage. Hair treatments such as bleaching, dyeing, and perming fall very high on the pH scale. When using high alkaline solutions, it’s important to follow up with a hair conditioning and repair treatment with an acidic pH to restore the hair’s pH levels.1,4
Another thing to keep in mind is while distilled water has a neutral pH of 7, it’s likely that the water in your shower may have a higher or lower pH depending on where you live and the type of water you use. The average pH level for tap water in homes ranges from 6.5 to 9. Even a simple rinse can have an effect on the pH levels of your hair, which is why it’s so important to pay close attention to your hair care products.2,4
How to Improve pH of hair?
When your hair’s pH level is not balanced, your hair may be more susceptible to damage. The Mane Agent | Advanced Molecular Bond Repair is an innovative leave-in treatment that works to actively repair damaged hair bonds at a molecular level by forming long molecular chains that covalently bond to broken keratin proteins in the hair to restore hair shape, structure and strength. These molecular chains fill voids in the hair that may be contributing to high levels of porosity, strengthening each hair shaft from existing damage and help prevent new damage.
The Mane Agent has a pH level ranging from 4.1-4.3. Applying The Mane Agent on damp hair that’s been shampooed and conditioned allows the product to enter through the opened hair shaft and sink into the cortex, while the acidity works to reinforce and smooth the cuticles of the hair shaft – locking in nutrients and smoothing each strand of hair.
When choosing the right products for your hair care routine, it’s vital to understand how the pH of your products are affecting the health of your hair to ensure ultimate efficacy. Consider The Mane Agent | Advanced Molecular Bond Repair as a final step for balancing your hair’s pH and strengthening those strands.
1. Gavazzoni Dias, Maria Fernanda Reis, et al. “The Shampoo Ph Can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality?” International Journal of Trichology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158629/.
2. Tarun J; et al.; “Evaluation of Ph of Bathing Soaps and Shampoos for Skin and Hair Care.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2014, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25284846/.
3. Jangam, Annie. “How to Balance the Ph of Hair Naturally.” Edited by Shruti Chavan, STYLECRAZE, StyleCraze, 23 Nov. 2022, https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/balance-ph-level-for-healthy-hair/#:~:text=Disturbance%20in%20the%20hair%20pH,the%20hair%20strands%20(1).
4. Campbell, Joli A. “The Ultimate Guide to Ph Balance for Hair and Why It Matters.” QuickSilverHair, QuickSilverHair, 26 Dec. 2021, https://quicksilverhair.com/ultimate-guide-to-ph-balance-for-hair/.