Here’s a high school chemistry class refresher for you. The numbers on the pH scale range from 0 to 14, where 0 to 6 represent acidity, 7 denotes neutrality, and 8 through 14 alkalinity. If you recall, maintaining a pH balance is crucial to our overall health, while too much acidity weakens the body and creates an ideal environment for illness. Well, our hair and scalp depend on just the right pH balance, too. Yet many of our favorite products and treatments can throw pH levels off, resulting in weak, dry, and damaged hair.
The pH Balance of Common Hair Treatments
- Temporary hair color has a pH between 7.0 to 8.0.
- Permanent hair color usually contains pH levels between 9.0 to and 11.0.
- Shampoos can range anywhere from 3.5 to 9.0.
- Bleaching falls in the 8.0 to 9.0 range,
- Chemical straighteners are quite high in alkalinity – between 11.0 and 14.
- Acid perms contain a value range of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Alkaline permanent solutions have a pH range of about 8.5 to 9.5.
The Best pH Level for Hair
At its healthiest, hair’s pH floats between 4.5 and 5.5 with cuticles tightly closed giving hair a smooth, shiny, and healthy appearance. Chemical treatments and harsh styling products disrupt this delicate balance and can cause hair cuticles to lift, and hair to frizz and break. Environmental factors like cigarette smoke, air pollution, humidity, UV rays, and even the type of water used for washing can disrupt hair’s pH balance. When hair repeatedly goes through changes in pH – with cuticles swelling and closing – the result is hygral fatigue, a condition featuring damaged hair cuticles and low elasticity strands, leading to a weaker strand structure and increased breakage.
pH and Your Scalp
The scalps pH level plays a significant role in hair health, as well. Maintaining this delicate balance helps keep moisture levels in check, prevents dry, itchy scalp, and encourages hair growth. Here’s how:
- Provides protection against bacteria-causing fungus.
- Helps quality hair care and styling products work better to remove dirt and build up without stripping vital moisture away.
- Reduces risk of breakage caused by chemical products.
- Helps maintain hair’s elasticity which allows it to bend without breaking during manipulation.
Getting Things Back on Track
Your professional hair stylist can check your hair’s pH level with a simple litmus strip. If the pH is out of balance, there are a few simple ways to get things back to normal. Read product labels carefully and avoid those packed with harmful chemicals. Look for products with a pH range of 4.0 to 7.0. Avoid over-washing hair – two to three times a week is fine for most people. And, of course, eat a balanced diet of foods with hair-strengthening vitamins and minerals like protein, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Still, even perfectly balanced hair can thin or fall with a condition like pattern baldness. If you’re noticing such a disturbing trend, contact DiStefano Hair Restoration Center for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your condition and recommend, as appropriate, the right type of transplant surgery to restore full head of glorious hair.