You might have come across hair products, particularly shampoos that are labelled as pH balanced. Have you ever wondered what does that signify? Well, a healthy pH level can define the look and feel of your hair.
Besides your diet and hair care regimen, the pH level of your hair too determines its strength and health. Hence, it’s important to maintain its balance to achieve maximum benefits and prevent it from becoming dry, dull, and damaged. Wondering how?
In this article, we tell you why the pH level of your hair matters and how you can balance it naturally to achieve healthier, fuller-looking hair.
What Is The pH Of Hair & Scalp?
pH in simple terms is a measure to determine how acidic or alkaline a particular substance is and it is usually measured on a scale of 0 to 14.  The pH of pure water is 7, which is neutral. Any product is said to be acidic if its pH is less than 7, while products with a pH higher than 7 are said to be alkaline. The lower the pH, the more acidic a product is and the higher the pH, the higher is its alkalinity.
How Do You Maintain The pH Of Your Hair?
It is essential to maintain the pH balance of your hair and scalp to have healthy, damage free hair. You can do the following to ensure your hair has a healthy pH.
1. Know Your Hair
First and foremost you should consider the current condition of your hair, before making any changes in your hair care routine. The following tips may come handy while trying to maintain the pH balance of your locks:
1. If you have an itchy scalp accompanied by dryness and brittle hair strands, chances are that your hair and scalp has become too alkaline. This also aggravates eczema and increases chances of infections. A mildly acidic shampoo can help relieve your hair woes. The lower pH of the shampoo will seal the cuticles of your hair and also help fight off the infection causing bacteria.
2. If you have naturally curly hair, your hair cuticles tend to be slightly open already, making your hair look dry or frizzy. Using a mildly acidic shampoo will help close the cuticles, making them lie flat on the hair shaft. This will make your hair look smoother.
3. If you have recently coloured your hair or undergone chemical straightening, your hair may be a little stressed from the repeated alkaline and acidic treatments. Again a slightly acidic hair care product will be your best choice, to keep your hair cuticles lying flat and prevent further damage of your precious mane.
4. If you have naturally straight hair without any signs of damage, a pH balanced shampoo should be good for maintaining the health of your hair. The sebum secreted by your hair helps maintain a healthy pH. So, avoid washing it too frequently to prevent your hair from losing its natural pH or drying out.
You can take SkinKraft’s Know Your Hair quiz designed in association with certified dermatologists, to not only determine the current status of your hair, but also to get hair care products customised to the specific needs of your hair.
2. Check The pH Of Your Hair Care Products
Read the labels carefully prior to buying any hair-care product. Since your hair is as unique as you are, you should go for a product with a pH that suits your hair the best. If your favorite shampoo does not mention pH on the bottle, you can check it yourself to make sure you are using the right product for your hair. Keep reading to know how to check the pH of a product at home.
3. Go Natural
You can try the following natural remedies to restore the pH of your hair.
A. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has an acidic pH around 3. Dilute apple cider vinegar in water upto a pH of 4. Applying this to your hair once or twice a week can be helpful in controlling frizz and dryness.
B. Aloe Vera Gel
You can directly apply aloe vera gel to your hair and scalp to restore the natural pH of your hair. Alternatively, you can make a hair mask using 1 cup of whole leaf aloe vera juice, 1 teaspoon honey and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in sufficient water. Apply this mask and leave on for 20 minutes, followed by shampoo and conditioner.
4. Try A Homemade Conditioner
You can make a homemade leave-in conditioner to restore the pH balance of your hair. Take 2 tablespoons of silicone free conditioner, 2 tablespoons of aloe vera juice and 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil. Mix well and check that the pH is not less than 4.5. Apply on washed and wet hair. Let it dry and follow with your usual styling.
How To Check The pH Level Of Your Hair Products?
There are pH indicators available in the market which can help you detect the pH of your hair care products. The pH indicators change their colours when exposed to a particular pH or a pH range.
The most commonly used pH indicators are litmus paper strips that come along with a pH scale, similar to the one shown in the image above. You can dip the pH strip in your product for a few minutes and observe the colour change. Now match the test paper with the pH scale provided with strips. Voila! Now you know the pH of your favorite product and if you need to change them.
The other and more accurate measure of pH can be given by a pH meter. It is a device used by researchers and other lab professionals to determine the pH of a solution very precisely.
How The pH Value Of Products Affect Your Hair?
The pH value of your products can make or break your hair. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. A Healthy pH Is Essential For Your Hair’s Health
Your hair has a high content of the protein, keratin. An alkaline product with a high pH damages the keratin, making your hair more prone to breakage. It also opens up the cuticles making the hair more porous and allowing entry of chemicals and pollutants into your hair. A product with pH higher 3.67 will increase the chances of your hair getting tangled and frizzy.
2. Optimum pH Helps Retain Moisture In Your Hair
A pH balanced product prevents excess loss of moisture from your hair without leaving any deposits or buildups on your scalp. The sebum secreted from your scalp has a naturally low pH which can be disrupted by high pH products. Sebum has natural oils that keeps your mane protected and shining.
3. Protects From Unwanted Germs
Bacteria and fungi can grow only within a specific pH range. Maintaining a healthy pH of your hair and scalp will ensure that your head is not home to infection causing bacteria and fungi. Also, a healthy pH will help maintain your normal skin flora (friendly bacteria and fungi naturally present on your skin and hair), which in turn keeps the disease causing germs at bay.
The natural pH of your hair and scalp is an essential component to maintain good health of your hair. You should know the current pH of your hair before choosing a hair care product and make sure the product you choose works to the advantage of your hair condition. If you already have some amount of damage to your hair due to pH imbalance, try a natural remedy or consult your dermatologist for the best solution.
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