Every product on the hair/skin/child care supermarket shelves mentions pH – balance, repair, locate, everything. So what exactly is pH and why is it important?
What is pH?
Standing for the potential of Hydrogen (yes, I know!), pH is a measure of acidity in a product. With a scale of 1-14, 7 is the middle ground making it the neutral point. Numbers below 7 indicate acidity, with 1 being the most acidic, and above 7 are alkaline.
Then, it all gets a bit crazy as the scale isn’t linear – meaning that the gap between 1 & 2, for example, isn’t the same as the gap between 10 & 11. Who decides on these things, anyway?
But to give you a rough idea of the pH value, here are some items we’re all familiar with:
Lime Juice pH 2 – very acidic
Coffee pH 5
Water pH 7
Baking Soda pH9
Bleach pH13 – very alkaline
pH Balanced Hair Products
Our skin is delicately balanced at around 5.5 pH, and if that balance is shifted too far one way or the other, it can result in problems, such as becoming overly dry or sore. It can also lead to increased oil production if our shampoos and other hair products unbalance our hair and scalp’s natural pH.
The hair shaft is made up of microscopic scales the cover the central cortex. When our hair is healthy, the scales lie flat, overlapping like roof tiles, sliding smoothly across each other. If a shampoo is too alkaline, it can cause the scales to lift up potentially causing damage to the hair shaft. A slightly acidic shampoo can counteract these effects.
Experts in the haircare industry like Dove highly recommend always using the products that are best suited for your hair type. Making natural pH balancing products can be quite tricky, as the balance of the actual ingredients can fluctuate, so I have several go-to products that I recommend for black hair.
The first one is a lovely rich moisturizing shampoo. Specifically designed for African American hair. Not only does it smell delicious, but it keeps my natural hair looking and feeling awesome! The ingredients include avocado oil which is known for its pH balancing properties, and I use this to wash my hair once a week.
2. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil shampoo.
For extra special treatments, I use a product that a girlfriend recommended. It creates a perfect balance between oily and dry due to the inclusion of apple cider vinegar, and I’ll use this every two to three weeks, wrapping my hair in a hot towel while it soaks into the hair shafts.
Another treasured find is this argan oil hair mask. This is one that I find works best if left on overnight when it can really work its magic. Richly thick with argan and almond oils, it smells sublime, and leaves my hair feeling luxuriously soft and sleek. I love this stuff!
Finally, another one on my list for pH balancing is this conditioner. After using this my hair feels more flexible and ‘looser’ than usual, and the effects can last for several weeks after. The lushness of avocados combined with the penetratingly deep scent of rosemary oil gives this treatment a real ‘pamper night’ luxury.