What you'll learn:
- What is pH and What Does it Measure?
- How is pH Related to Hair?
- Alkaline Dangers - The pH of Common Hair Styling Products
- Ideal pH for Hair Products
- How To Check My Products’ pH Level?
- Shampoo and Conditioner pH Levels
What is pH and What Does it Measure?
Potential of Hydrogen (pH) is one of the most important yet underrated factors to consider in hair care. It influences the strand’s texture, appearance, absorbance capabilities, and curl shape. More specifically, the pH of hair products has a direct effect on the hair cuticle.
The pH scale goes from 0 - 14. Looking at it from left to right, 0 through 6 is the acidic side, 7 is neutral, and 8 through 14 is the alkaline spectrum of the scale.
How is pH Related to Hair?
Hair’s pH falls in the acidic range at around 4.5 - 5.5 and maintaining it at this level is important for its overall health. As mentioned before, pH has a direct effect on how cuticles behave. Picture the cuticle layer as thousands of minuscule scales that open and close, depending on the situation. Some products make the cuticles tighten up, giving an overall smoothness to the hair, while others make the cuticles lift, creating a frizzy and rough look. The natural oils produced by the scalp are actually quite acidic, this prevents fungi growth and kills bacteria.
Products with a higher pH than 5.5 soften the cuticles and lift them. Products with a pH lower than 5.5 tighten up the cuticles.
Alkaline Dangers - The pH of Common Hair Styling Products
The majority of the products used for hair styling and coloration have very high pH levels. Take a look at the pH values for common hair products used in salons:
- Bleaching and highlights: pH 10 -11
- Semi permanent hair coloration: pH 7 - 9
- Permanent hair coloration: pH 9.5 - 10. 5
- Relaxation products: pH 11 - 13
- Perm: pH 8 - 9
- Baking soda: pH 8
Extreme alkalinity can eat away skin and hair. Do not use products with a pH higher than 13 without balancing them out with water.
Ideal pH for Hair Products
Moving through the scale from 0 to 6, things are more acidic. Products and treatments that have a pH level lower than 4.5 tighten up the hair cuticle holding in moisture, nurture, and proteins better.
Extreme acidity can eat away at skin and hair. Do not use products with a pH lower than 2 without balancing them out with water.
How To Check My Products’ pH Level?
All hair and skin products should include this information on the label but some companies choose to do otherwise. We recommend reaching out to them directly and asking them to disclose this information. As a last resort, we’d suggest purchasing a pH test online; some are very simple to use.
Shampoo and Conditioner pH Levels
The Hair Routine products are specially made to control and balance your hair’s pH.
The Balancing Shampoo has a pH of 5.6 - 6, which is a tiny bit higher than the normal pH of hair. This way, the shampoo gently opens the cuticles and cleanses the hair.
This is a key moment for the strands, after cleaning the hair with shampoo and rinsing it off the cuticle remains soft and lifted and there is no better moment but this to apply a hair treatment. The Hair Routine specifies which hair treatment is the best at that moment for your hair type according to your personalized routine. If you don’t have a routine yet, complete this online test and start following yours.
Last but not least, you’ll rinse out the hair treatment and finish off by applying conditioner. The Balancing Conditioner has a pH of 3.9 - 4.6 which is a tiny bit lower than the normal pH of hair. Essentially, this helps close the cuticles back down and retain the benefits of whichever treatment was applied. Following this order will ensure your hair receives the full benefits of shampoo, hair mask, and conditioner; leaving it smoother and healthier.