The term “pH”, which stands for “power of hydrogen”, is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.
Anything measuring between 0 and 6.9 is acidic, and anything between 7.1 and 14 is alkaline.
Human hair and scalp oil or sebum, has a pH level of between 4.5 and 5.5, making it an acid, and this very acidity helps it guard against the encroachment of bacteria and fungi.
Factors Affecting Your Hair’s pH Level
Many factors can affect your hair’s pH level, such as the type of shampoo and conditioner you use, your diet, the hardness of the water you use, genetic influences, and exposure to certain environments (e.g. environments with a lot of dust or dirt present).
Whatever your background, it’s important to monitor and retain a proper pH balance in your hair, not only because you want your hair to look good, but because you want it to be healthy!
Let’s now look at five ways to naturally balance your hair’s pH level, all of which accentuate the natural acidity of your hair and scalp, while providing other benefits to your hair.
1. pH Balanced Natural Shampoo or Conditioner
Additionally, these products can leave the hair cuticles (the outermost parts of the hair shafts) open, exposing them to environmental pollutants.
Some (but not all) natural shampoos and conditioners contain ingredients which protect your hair and help it to maintain a healthy pH level. Some examples of natural ingredients in these products are argan oil, rahua nut oil, lavender, bergamon, rose oil, and cardamom.
To be absolutely sure that your natural shampoo or conditioner does in fact promote the proper pH balance for your hair, it’s a good idea to test a small amount using a test strip. If the pH level is less than 4 or greater than 7 on the pH scale, it is probably best to use something different.
2. Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, which are both acids with a pH within the 2-3 range, will help restore the natural pH balance of your hair.
Since hair pH balance falls within the 4.5 to 5.5 range, it is advisable to dilute the lemon juice or vinegar with some water (which has a neutral pH of 7). The resulting mixture will have a pH that more closely matches the natural pH of your hair.
An added benefit of using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is the ability they both have to cleanse the skin of unwanted and unhealthy contaminants, such as fungus, bacteria, dirt, or chemicals.
3. Aloe vera
Derived from the aloe plant, which grows wild in North Africa and has been used since Ancient Egyptian times, aloe is reputed to have therapeutic benefits for many ailments. It is also useful for balancing the pH level of hair, since its acidic pH level is close to that of hair.
Like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, aloe has the added benefits of cleansing your hair of contaminants and closing the hair cuticles . Aloe vera juice or gel is available at many stores, allowing people to concoct their own, home-made aloe vera solutions.
Aloe can be applied after washing and conditioning your hair, preferably diluted with some water. Work the solution from the middle of your head towards the ends of your hair and allow it to stay for 30 seconds before rinsing. The advantage of aloe over vinegar solutions is that it won’t leave a strong odor emanating from your hair!
4. Coconut Milk
With a pH level in the range of 5.5 to 7, coconut milk, like the other natural solutions we have investigated thus far, matches closely with the pH level of your hair. The combination of healthy fat and oils in coconut milk contribute to the overall health of your hair, in addition to balancing its pH level.
Its rich mixture of anti-oxidants and nourishing minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, is thought to be beneficial for stimulating hair growth.
Apply coconut milk to your hair by pouring some in a spray bottle. Spray it evenly over your hair. Leave it in your hair for 30 minutes before rinsing.
5. Drink plenty of fluids
This last natural method of balancing the pH level in your hair is also a method for maintaining the overall health of your body. If you are routinely dehydrated, then this affects all aspects of your health, including the health of your hair.
If your hair becomes too dry, its pH level will be affected, as there will not be enough natural oil to keep the hair cuticles closed and protect it from germs, dust, dirt, etc…
By drinking enough fluids, in particular water, you ensure that your hair is receptive to whatever shampoos, conditioners, or other natural solutions you employ to maintain a proper pH level.
Now that you have the knowledge of not only the natural pH level of hair, but of what natural shampoos and other solutions can maintain that balance, you are prepared for a routine of proper hair health.
Continually evaluating your hair, watching for signs of dryness and irritation, is an import part of this routine.
If your hair feels dry or irritated, you may wish to experiment with pH balanced natural shampoos and conditioners, and natural treatments such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, and coconut milk.
Keep in mind that everyone’s hair is slightly different, as we have noted. Now you have the knowledge to find the natural products which will work best for your hair.