I was recently introduced to some classes that really opened my eyes to my industry and some of the misinformation out there. Today, I will talk to you about the importance of pH when recommending the right shampoos, conditioners, stylers, etc. In the future, I will touch on some of the ingredients and what the truth is behind what and why they are there.
Our hair and skin have a pH of about 4.5 -5.5. When we use any products that have a pH higher than this, we are swelling the cuticle. Swelling the cuticle is needed in services such as color, perms, relaxers, smoothing treatments, and rejuvenating treatments, but it is not needed in our day-to-day styles. When we swell the cuticle (open it up), we risk letting good stuff out and bad stuff in. This can fade your color and damage your hair.
As you may remember from science class, the pH scale runs 1-14, with 7 neutral. Anything below 7 is considered “Acid,” and above 7 is Alkaline. Using perms as an example, we have both Acid and Alkaline perms. An acid perm has a pH of 6-7, where an Alkaline perm is about 9.5. Of course, other ingredients go into a perm to assist in forming that curl, but without at least a pH of 6, the cuticle would not swell to allow those chemicals in.
I was surprised to learn that even many Salon brands of shampoo are over a pH of 6. Recently I was in the local supply house and noticed that one brand had on all their shampoos now the term “pH balanced,” yet on one of their shampoos, it told you that the pH was “6.0-6.6,” and it was for color-treated hair. Remember what I said above? The pH of your hair is 4.5-5.5, so how is it pH balanced at 6.0-6.6?
I have decided that I am on a mission to only have shampoos in my salon that show you the pH is. In good faith, I cannot recommend products that I know now can be what is causing fading and or brassiness in your hair. The only shampoo that you should use with a higher pH than a 4.5-5.5 is an at-home clarifying shampoo to remove buildup, but even this should be able to stay close to this range and be labeled, so you know what you are using.