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What Is Your Hair’s pH? (And why should you care?)

Have you ever thought about your hair’s pH? No? Well, buckle up, because we’re taking you back to chemistry class! Here’s how to know your hair’s pH (and why you should care). 

What Is pH?

If you haven’t thought about pH since high school, don’t worry. We’re here with a quick refresher. In technical terms, pH refers to the amount of hydrogen ions in a solution, with more hydrogen indicating a lower pH and fewer hydrogen ions indicating a higher pH. But what you really need to know is that pH refers to how acidic or basic something is. Vinegar, for example, has a low pH while drain cleaner has a high pH. You can probably imagine that you don’t want your hair to be at either extreme. 

How Does pH Affect Hair?

We’re glad you asked. Healthy hair tends to fall in the 4.5 to 5.5 range on the pH scale, making it a little acidic. However, everything from environmental factors like sun and pollution to salon treatments and hair products interacts with your hair and can potentially change its pH.
And it turns out that like the rest of our body, our hair is happiest when it doesn’t leave its ideal pH range. Venture outside of that, and you may experience frizz, hair damage, breakage, loss of elasticity, and dandruff. 

How Do I Know My Hair’s pH?

The only accurate way to know your hair’s pH for sure is to test it, but you can get an idea from the overall health of your hair. Hair with a healthy pH is typically glossy and smooth because your hair’s cuticles are able to remain tightly closed. If you experience dull, dry, oily, or frizzy hair, there’s a good chance your hair’s pH is out of balance.
If you’re interested, it’s pretty easy to pick up litmus test strips online or at beauty supply stores. They can be used to test anything that’s water-based, so you can check the pH of virtually all your hair products.  

Why Should I Care About My Hair’s pH? 

Knowing how pH affects your hair is important to overcoming your hair woes. Keeping your hair in a healthy range helps keep your hair’s cuticles sealed so your strands can retain moisture. It also helps stave off fungus and strengthens your hair against breakage. 
Products that are too alkaline can dry your hair, leading to frizz, tangles, and easily damaged locks. On the other hand, researchers in Brazil found that products with a pH close to 3.7 increased the negative electric charge of the hair. The same researchers recommended avoiding products with a pH above 5.5, which can lead to irritation, damage, and frizz.

So What Can You Do?

Be informed about the pH of products you use on your hair. If it’s not listed, try testing your products yourself. Remember that hair treatments like dyes and relaxers tend to be alkaline, so you may need to work on making your hair more acidic. An apple cider vinegar rinse is a great way to help. 

At Viori, we formulate our products to maintain a healthy pH balance. For example, our shampoo has a pH of about 5, which is within the ideal range both for your hair and for the products you use. Want to know more? Check out our FAQ here.


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