The Importance of PH Balance On Hair
Do you know the importance of regulating product pH balance in maintaining a healthy hair care regime? The truth is, I’ve never paid much attention to the pH of my hair care products. For many of us, losing our hair strands regularly, suffering from patches of baldness is a reflection that frighten us when we look in the mirror. Attaining strong, healthy hair seems impossible!!! Yet, it is achievable no matter your age or gender by choosing the right products.
First, let’s look at the science behind pH in hair care products.
In order to maintain a healthy head of hair, hair and products pH must be well balanced (Sivsaothy,2011). Therefore, measuring the pH of your products will help you to understand how it works on your hair. Simply put, pH stands for the “power of hydrogen” or the concentration of hydrogen ion in a solution. If a solution has a high hydrogen ion, then it has a very low pH level or it is considered acidic. On the other hand, if a solution has a low hydrogen ion, then you have a high pH, or it is considered alkaline. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, anything from 0 to 6-6.9 is considered acidic. Our hair and skin are covered by a thin acidic film known as the acid mantle. This is particularly important for the skin to prevent harmful bacteria or viruses from entering our body. These alkaline contaminants will be neutralised by the skin acid mantle thus preventing any harm (Sivasothy,2011). With regards to our hair, the acid mantle is important because with a low pH, the hair shaft will be affected because the cuticle layers will constrict, causing them to lie flat and close to one another thus protecting the inner cortex of the hair strand. The contracted cuticles will also allow the hair strands to move freely past one another and the uniform surface will provide better sheen and shine. Apple cider vinegar and neutralising shampoos are acidic.
7 is neutral and 7.1 to 14 is alkaline. Pure water for example has a pH of 7 or is neutral. However, this is not because it is neither acidic or alkaline but because it is 50% acidic and 50% alkaline (Sivasothy,2011). Hair dyes and chemical relaxers have a pH over 7, making it more alkaline. This high pH substances will lift the hair cuticle(raised) and causes the hair shaft to open and swell. Lifted cuticles are responsible for frizz and is a major sheen inhibitor. The lifted cuticle also causes the cortex to become exposed, making the hair more vulnerable and weaker (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, pp 180-185,2003).
Therefore, it is imperative that the hair pH return to its normal 4 to 5.5 state after using any alkaline products. The acidity is what helps to prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria on your scalp and hair. Therefore, your hair can become damaged if the cuticles are not returned to its normal closed or tight state.
So, when I talked of hair care product(s) that are “pH balanced”, I am referring to those products that have a pH within range of your natural hair and scalp. As a result, it won’t disrupt your hair pH levels but rather, it will help to maintain it. Shampoos and conditioners play a significant role in regulating the pH of our hair. Most shampoos and conditioners are produced to maintain or keep our hair within its normal and healthy acid range. Shampoos are normally produced with a mild acid range of 4-6 and conditioners 3.5-5.5. When you wet your hair and apply a shampoo to cleanse it, it becomes more negatively charged. Your cuticle layers swell and are slightly raised.
So, you may wonder why we are moving from 4-6 to 3.5-5.5?? Well, this lower pH level in the conditioner helps to seal off the hair, constricts and smooth the fibres to prevent moisture loss. The conditioner can counteract this effect because it has positively charged surfactants (cations). Therefore, hair products can penetrate the hair easily because it has the right chemistry and are able to get under the tiny spaces of the smooth cuticle. It is advisable to use the same product range when selecting shampoos and conditioner because they have been formulated to work together to achieve a particular pH balance.
Please drop us a comment below if you like this blog. Also share with your friends and family.