What Exactly Is pH And Why Do I Need To Be Concerned About It?
pH is the measurement of hydrogen ions present in a water-based solution. It ranges from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic). For a frame of reference, distilled water has a pH of 7 and is therefore, neutral. Furthermore, apple cider vinegar has a pH of 2 and is very acidic, while sodium hydroxide, AKA “creamy crack” has a pH of 13 and is very basic. And, the pH of your natural, untreated hair is 5 – 5.5.
The pH of your hair products can raise or lower the cuticles on the hair shaft. For example, when you apply a relaxer to your hair, the pH will be 13 and will fully raise the hair cuticle. Conversely, if you use an apple cider vinegar rinse, you will lower/ tighten the hair cuticle, which is why it’s great for high porosity hair.
But before I go any further, I want to discuss products formulated with oils and butters that do not have any water. In a nutshell, 100% oil based products do not have a pH level.
pH Fact About Oil: Oil does not have a pH because it doesn’t have any hydrogen ions present due to the absence of water. Therefore, oil products that are anhydrous will NEVER have a pH number associated with it.
How Does pH Effect Dry Hair?
So, if the hair cuticle is in a raised state (pH>5.5), the cortex is exposed, and moisture will rapidly evaporate from the hair and cause dryness and shrinkage. Excessive dryness due to raised cuticles will eventually lead to breakage.
On the flip side, if your hair cuticle is in a lowered state(pH<4.5), moisture adsorption is decreased. The cuticles are so tightly aligned on the hair shaft that they slow down the adsorption of moisture from the environment. It’s a small pathway for moisture to reach the cortex. Excessive dryness due to closed cuticles will eventually lead to breakage.
These problems (high and low pH) are on fleek during the winter months because of the lower humidity in conditioned air. The hot air we use to heat our homes inside during the winter months is dry and moisture will evaporate from the hair shaft,
So, What Can I Do To Keep My Hair Hydrated?
Ahem, well, my first suggestion is to buy CUSH Cosmetics shampoos and conditioners. And yes, it’s a shameless plug and of course, I’m biased!
Like everything in life, there is a sweet spot. Look for hair products that have a pH of 4.5 – 5.5, which is the pH of our Creme De Palme Curl Enhancing Creme. That pH gives you the “proper” alignment of the cuticle to drive hydration. The cuticles are raised enough to allow moisture into the cortex yet closed enough to slow down evaporation.
If you have low porosity hair, you can use hair produces with slightly higher pH. Our Mango Babassu Shampoo Bar is a great shampoo to correct low porosity hair. If you have high porosity hair, you can use products with a slightly lower pH.
Tip: Use pH strips and test your hair product to understand its pH.
Have fun and stay hydrated!