pH stands for potential hydrogen. The pH scale measures the amount of hydrogen present in a substance.
How does pH affect me?
Your internal pH is the most important of all and affects the functions of your entire body but I will be discussing its effects on hair externally in this particular article. Once I understood the pH scale and its effect on hair, I was able to keep it healthier and more manageable. I even keep a tube of litmus paper with me to test the pH of the products I use and mix.
When the environment of your hair and scalp is healthy you are on the right path to growing and maintaining healthy hair. Many things have an effect on the pH of your hair ranging from your diet to the pH of the products you use in your hair.
Am I pH balanced?
A healthy pH range of the sebum found on our hair, skin and nails falls between 4.5 and 5.5. Anything that falls below that pH is considered acidic to us and anything that falls above that range is considered alkaline to us. If hair has a lower pH, the cuticles are a little tighter making the hair resistant to taking in moisture. This hair is typically dry because it does not accept product well and is prone to breakage and styling damage If your hair has a higher pH, the cuticles are raised, so the hair can accept moisture but cannot retain it. This type of hair is usually frizzy, brittle and prone to tangling and matting.
How do I know the pH of my products?
When something has a low pH it is acidic and when it has a high pH it is alkaline. All of the hair products we use fall somewhere on this scale and where they fall determines the its effect on our hair! Acids (sour) harden and contract things and work to dissolve the closer it gets to the extreme. Alkalines (bitter) work to soften and swell and dissolve as well these closer they get to their extreme. When it say extreme, I am referring to how close it is to either end of the pH scale.
When it comes to hair products, low pH things we use include clarifying shampoos and cleansers, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt. High pH things we use include moisturizing conditioners, styling products, water, baking soda, relaxers and lighteners.
Hopefully, this will help you when you are using your natural products and will help you understand what they are doing for your hair. Understanding your styling products helps them work for you, instead of against you!