What is the optimal pH of hair?
The pH of your hair and scalp is an essential component for maintaining healthy, happy hair. The ideal pH of hair should be in a moderately acidic state of about pH 4.5 - 5.5 to preserve balance, shine and smoothness. Basic hair cleansing, conditioning and treatment products are designed to help maintain this slightly acidic pH, but many of the things we do to our hair (color/chemical treatments, heat styling, showering, etc.) actually disrupt this delicate pH range that our hair craves.
When the scalp and hair are slightly acidic (between pH 4.5 - 5.5), the cuticles contract and trap in moisture to lay perfectly flat. This idyllic state makes hair feel soft, shiny, bouncy and most importantly, manageable. Tap water, which has a pH of often 7.5 or higher (alkaline), causes that sealed cuticle to open again. When the hair’s cuticle is opened, you welcome moisture loss, color fade, frizz and tangles.
If you live in a big city, you can pretty much count on having hard water (pH 8.5 and above). A higher, more alkaline pH hair will be disruptive to your hair and scalp’s balance in very tactile ways; hair will be tangled, frizzy, dull and drier to the touch. Hard water is high in dissolved minerals including calcium or magnesium, which over time creates a film on the hair, preventing moisture from entering the hair. It can also cause build-up on the scalp, causing dandruff and itchiness.
If you don’t know where your tap water falls on the pH spectrum, you can buy pH test strips to check. The most commonly used pH indicators are litmus paper strips that come along with a pH scale. You can dip the pH strip in your water for a few minutes and observe the color change. I recommend installing a water filtration system or filtered shower head to keep water perfectly balanced right out of the faucet. My favorites are by Kangen and Jolie Skin Co.
What products do you recommend for maintaining optimal pH?
The pH value of your products can make or break your hair. Luckily, most modern hair and skin care products are pH balanced. It’s actually the tap water from your faucet that undos what your product does in-shower, which is why it's essential to do a toning post-shower step with Detangling Toning Mist.
Detangling Toning Mist is a multi-functional mist for stressed strands that tend to tangle. This product features Apple Cider Vinegar which immediately restores optimal pH balance by acidifying and sealing the mantle of the cuticle for a glossy finish that is silky to the touch and highly reflective. Its function is the same reason we use a toner after cleansing our skin to tighten and miniaturize the pores.
- Philip B.