PH (potential of hydrogen)
Our body is naturally set up to maintain a healthy balance between acidity and alkalinity. The PH measures how acidic, neutral or alkaline a substance is ranging from 1-14.
The natural healthy PH level of the hair and scalp ranges between 4.5-5 meaning human hair is acidic. This acidity prevents fungi and bacteria from growing in the hair and scalp and also keeps the cuticle closed preventing frizz and breakage. Your hair and scalp’s PH balance can easily be disrupted by using a shampoo with a PH higher than 5.
What causes Hair and scalp PH imbalance?
Itchy, dry, flaky scalp are all signs of PH imbalance typically caused by using a shampoo that has a PH above 7. These shampoos remove the natural waxy substance that is naturally produced by our scalp called Sebum which is in charge of fighting bacteria and fungi.
Color treated hair
Curly hair has a slightly opened cuticle, therefore it is a little bit more alkaline than straight hair. If you color your hair it will be treated with a very alkaline substance that causes the hair cuticle to rise so that the color can be deposited into the cortex (middle layer of the hair) then it is neutralized with a very acidic substance to seal in the color and the cuticle. This process is damaging to the hair and a shampoo with a PH higher than 5 will open the cuticle even more causing the color to fade faster.
Hard water is alkaline because it has a high concentration of minerals (mainly magnesium and calcium). The PH level of hard water is 8.5 and up which causes the hair cuticle to rise, making your hair feel rough, look dry and dull and tangle more. Hard water can also interfere with the effectiveness of your shampoo because the high mineral content prevents the shampoo from lathering, which results in mineral build up in the scalp. These mineral residues will clog your pores blocking the moisture from your conditioners from entering the hair.
Signs of hard water build-up in the hair:
-Hair looks dry and brittle
-Hair looks flat, lacks volume
-Experience constant frizz
-Flaky, dry, itchy scalp
How to balance Hair and scalp PH
-Improve water quality by getting a shower head filter that will strip off the minerals and chlorine from the water protecting your hair from mineral build-up.
-Most hair care products do not state if they are PH balanced and a lot of them AREN’T! Buying PH test strips will help you determine if your products are the best option for your hair and scalp. I like to test my distilled water first to make sure the strips are reading correctly, your plain distilled water should read a PH of 7 (neutral) then I add some of the product and mix it well and follow the directions on the strip pad.
-Do a PH balancing acidic rinse
Apple cider vinegar is a great mild acidic substance that works great for balancing scalp PH. Mix 2 TBS of ACV vinegar to one cup of distilled water and apply to your hair after washing with shampoo and conditioning. Leave it on for a few minutes than rinse it off.
My favorite rinse is Aloe Vera Juice rinse because it doesn’t have a strong smell like ACV. Simply add 2 TBS of Aloe Vera juice to one cup of distilled water and apply to your hair after washing with shampoo and conditioning. You can spray or pour the mixture all over your hair, then squeeze excess water. Do not rinse off, proceed to your usual styling routine. If you are going to use store bought Aloe Vera juice make sure it does not have any preservatives like this one:
I like to spray my scalp with this mixture once a week to help with my scalp psoriasis.
A healthy scalp will set the foundation for healthy hair, this is why choosing PH balanced products is so important especially if you are starting your curly hair journey.
Disclosure: This article is not intended to diagnose or cure any disease. This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission if you click one of the links and make a purchase through that link. I am not a professional hair stylist, but I've done plenty of research due to my severe scalp psoriasis and want to share my knowledge in hopes I can help someone in need.