Natural hair is often dry and prone to frizzies, split ends, and breakage, which is why it’s so important to use a pH-balanced shampoo to keep it in its best condition.
To understand why the benefits of pH-balanced shampoo are important for natural hair, you first need to understand what pH is. (Don’t worry, we’ll make the explanation fast and keep it simple!)
Basic Facts About pH
pH Fact #1 = pH is a symbol that represents a unit of measure.
pH Fact #2 = The “p” stands for “potential,” and the “H” stands for “hydrogen.”
pH Fact #3 = pH measures the acid or alkaline level of a particular substance.
pH Fact #4 = The pH scale runs from 1 (low acidic) through 14 (high alkaline), with 7 being completely neutral.
What is the Healthiest Level of pH for Natural Hair?
Natural human hair shafts have a pH of 3.67, and the pH of the scalp and sebum (oils produced by hair follicles) is 5.5. This acidity level is ideal and offers natural prevention against fungus, bacteria, and other free radicals that can cause problems to the hair and scalp.
It also keeps the keratin (protein) layers of the hair cuticle closed, which means that hair is healthier overall.
How Do the Hair and Scalp Lose this Ideal pH Level?
Using high-alkaline shampoos and products can strip away the hair’s natural acidic sebum and adversely affect pH levels. Certain medications and medical treatments as well as genetic and hormonal conditions can also affect the hair and scalp’s pH levels.
What Happens if pH Levels Are NOT in the Normal Range?
The higher the pH value, the more alkaline the substance becomes. An alkaline pH level in hair can cause static electricity and friction between the strands, leading to breakage. It also causes the hair’s cuticle to soften and open up — think of roof shingles or pine-cone layers — allowing moisture from the internal cortex to escape.
If the pH value is in the 5.5 to 7.0 range, you’ll need to take special care of your hair because by the time it hits 7.0-8.5, your hair will be extremely dry and damaged. If you color your natural hair, the dye’s high alkaline levels matched with the already opened cuticles mean your hair will not retain the pigment as long.
Think of your scalp as the soil where your hair is planted. If the scalp’s alkaline pH levels are too high, it can become dry and dehydrated. The dryness causes the follicles to overproduce sebum, which, when mixed with dead skin and dirt, manifests as scalp flakiness and dandruff.
The Benefits of Using pH-Balanced Shampoo on Natural Hair
Shampoos are used principally to clean the scalp, but they inevitably wash the hair as well. That’s why it’s so critical that a shampoo also be pH formulated to maintain the hair’s softness and manageability. This is particularly important for natural hair textures, such as kinky, frizzy, and curly hair in general.
If you use regular, non-pH-balanced shampoo or soap on your hair, it leaves a harmful calcium-salt alkaline residue that accumulates in the strands and causes them to be weak and prone to tangles. If you use a pH-balanced shampoo, your hair will be smoother.
FAQs About pH Levels
1. What is an acidic solution (lower than pH level 7)?
A higher concentration of hydrogen ions than found in pure water. Common examples include lemon juice, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and urine.
2. What is an alkaline solution (higher than pH level 7)?
A basic hydroxide or ionic salt that’s water-soluble. Common examples include soaps, shampoos, hair dyes, ammonia, lye, and caustic soda.
Whether your natural hair is oily, normal, dry, or extra-dry, the benefits of a pH-balanced shampoo are numerous.
When selecting a shampoo, make sure its pH values are in that acidic 3.5-5.5 pH range. It’s at that level that the cuticle will stay smooth and closed, and your natural hair will retain moisture and have a healthier and shinier appearance.