Tips // What pH Tells You About Your Hair
Published 3/15/19, 3:43 PM by Fleur Scalp Care
Nowadays, many hair products comes with varying pH values. A lot of shampoos are also designed as being pH balanced. So what is pH and how does the different pH levels affect the health of our hair?
pH or potential of hydrogen is a scale (0-14) used to specify the acidic or alkaline level of a substance. Pure water at room temperature is measured at a neutral pH 7; pH 0 being the most acidic and pH 14 the most alkaline.
To better understand how pH affects our hair, we have to take a look at how our hair anatomy works.
The outermost protective layer of our hair shaft is the cuticles. Our hair cuticles work like the flaps of a window blinds where it can be lifted up in certain conditions; heat and alkaline settings. Hair cuticle protects the inner hair shaft from external pollutants when closed and can be opened up for deep cleansing or hair colouration purposes.
The average natural pH level of our hair is slightly acidic ranging about 4.5 to 5.5 where it stays closed and healthy but doesn’t become too tight. At the natural pH level, the slightly acidic sebum can also help to fight off fungi and bacteria infections. This is why hair issues may arise when the pH level is disrupted.
With a healthy pH level, our hair can maintain its elasticity and necessary moisture. Maintaining balance of pH levels in our hair and scalp is important for achieving overall healthy hair. The first step to balancing is to know your hair present pH levels.
With a optimum pH of 4.5 to 5.5, our hair and scalp are naturally slightly acidic to begin with.
A mildly acidic hair conditioner can help close and smoothen the cuticles, adding shine to your hair. But if the pH drops below these optimum levels, the cuticle layer can contract and tighten or cause acidic damage.
In alkaline conditions, the cuticles soften and expands like a pinecone, opening up and exposing the hair shaft to pollutants causing other hair issues.
This is why ammonia is needed in hair colouration. Ammonia is used in order to loosen and open up the cuticles for the colouring agent to be deposited and work its magic.
Hair that are alkaline also tend to have a porous structure and thus unable to retain moisture or hair colouration effectively.
If your scalp is dry, itchy or flaky, it’s more likely that your hair and scalp is more alkali. Scalp eczema and other hair problems caused by fungi or bacteria are also likely due to alkalized conditions.
In curly hair, the cuticles are also slightly opened. The curls and opened cuticles prevent the protective sebum from covering the entire strand of hair, often resulting in frizzy, dry and brittle hair.
Choosing Suitable Products
After you’ve identified your current pH levels, you can switch to more suitable ones. There are some hair products in the market that labels their pH levels or are designed as pH balanced. You can also D.I.Y and run a litmus paper test on the products you're using to see for yourself.
Maintaining a balanced healthy pH level can prevent the onset of other hair problems! Get started today with a free scalp analysis and consultation with us!