Have you ever considered the relationship between pH and scalp and hair health? Maintaining an optimum pH balance on the scalp and hair using solutions that account for their delicate chemistry is an essential part of supporting hair strength, a healthy scalp microbiome and overall well-being for your strands.
pH is a measure of how acidic or basic (alkaline) a substance is. The measure was first coined and used by Danish biochemist, S.P.L. Sørensen in 1909. The scale of pH ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 representing neutral. If a pH is below 7, that indicates acidity, whereas above 7 represents alkaline.
The pH of Hair
Understanding hair’s pH can help provide useful insight regarding how best to treat it and maximise hair health. Hair itself is naturally acidic, and sits around 3.5-4.5 on the pH spectrum. Hair is healthiest when it’s in its natural, semi-acidic state, and therefore, using products that maintain this equilibrium is essential to prevent too much fluctuation.
Many chemical-ridden products and harsh treatments can push hair towards the alkaline end of the pH spectrum, which disrupts the delicate balance and causes damage to the hair’s vulnerable structures. Colouring, bleaching and using harmful shampoos (think sulphates, silicones and parabens) fail to take the intricate chemistry of hair strands into consideration, wreaking havoc on the entire ecosystem and culminating in structural damage.
When the hair’s semi-acidic, delicate pH balance is disrupted, the cuticle - the outer layer of the hair strand composed of overlapping cells - begins to lift up and crack, impacting the strength of the hair itself. According to a study conducted in the International Journal of Trichology in 2014, an alkaline pH may increase the negative electrical charge of the hair fibre surface (the cuticle) and, therefore, increase the friction between the fibres. Impaired cuticle health ultimately leads to frizz, breakage and irregularities on the hair’s surface.
The pH of the Scalp
The mantra at MONPURE is that the scalp is the foundation of healthy hair, so understanding the scalp’s pH and how it impacts scalp and hair health is integral to reaching your haircare goals. The scalp’s natural pH is around 5.5, which is slightly more basic (alkaline) than hair, but is similar to the rest of the skin on the body.
Just like the hair’s pH fluctuates and impacts hair health, the scalp’s delicate pH can be disturbed - so keeping them both steady is a careful balancing act. A healthy pH balance on the scalp keeps the scalp microbiome in check, preventing the overgrowth of bacteria and microorganisms that contribute to scalp conditions. As the first line of defence against harmful pathogens, an acidic environment on the scalp microbiome shields the hair follicles and the scalp from infection, toxins, irritation, hair damage and more. A more alkaline state on the scalp and disrupted scalp microbiome results in a disequilibrium of yeast and bacteria, leading to irritation, dryness, damaged hair, sebum buildup and may even impede hair growth. A balanced pH level on the scalp is also particularly important for preventing inflammatory conditions like eczema and dandruff on the scalp.
How to Maintain a Healthy Hair and Scalp pH
Assess Your Strands
There are a number of conditions and concerns that can indicate the pH level of your hair and scalp, which can provide insight into how to approach your hair and scalpcare routine going forward. Here are some signs to look out for:
If your scalp is itchy, dry or flaky or you are experiencing flare-ups of eczema, dandruff or bacteria on the scalp, it’s likely that your hair and scalp are too alkaline. You may be using a product with a pH above 7, which works to strip away the naturally acidic sedum that wards off microbes and keeps your microbiome in check.
If your strands are permanently dyed or have been treated with chemical relaxers, it is likely your hair was initially treated with highly alkaline substances that exposed and altered the structure of the cuticle layer. As a result, colour or chemically treated hair will need slightly acidic products with a pH below 7 to mend any damage.
Opt for pH Balanced Products
One of the best ways to manage your hair and scalp’s pH health is to use products that are specifically formulated with powerful active ingredients that restore the hair and scalp’s pH to optimum levels. The MONPURE range is formulated without harmful sulphates, parabens, phthalates or dyes, but rather, with ingredients specifically curated to keep the hair and scalp pH balanced in healthy range.
When rinsing your hair in the shower, the water pH is 7.0 (more alkaline than your hair). This increase in alkaline causes a rise in negatively charged strands, leading to tangled hair and frizz. It’s important to opt for a pH balanced shampoo and conditioner to neutralise this process while washing that will return your hair to its naturally acidic state.
The MONPURE Strengthening Silk Protein Shampoo has a pH level of 6.0, maintaining a healthy semi-acidic level on the scalp and hair. This award-winning shampoo works to fortify the hair, rebuild the structure and strength of damaged strands, restore moisture to the scalp and protect the hair, scalp and follicles from environmental damage. The Strengthening Essence-Conditioner has a pH level of 4.5, keeping the acidic scalp microbiome in check and smoothing down the cuticle. This skincare-inspired conditioner allows you to confidently deliver moisture to the scalp and roots after washing, ensuring that the scalp microbiome and pH level remains balanced and healthy.
To combat frizz and friction, MONPURE’s Ultralight Healthy Hair Oil delivers supreme moisture to brittle and frizzy strands with its lightweight and fast-absorbing formula. It contains innovative vegan keratin that seals down the vulnerable cuticle and protects fragile hair from damage by rebuilding the strand’s structural integrity.
To buff away flakes and quell the itch brought on by imbalanced pH, the Clarifying Scalp Scrub gently exfoliates the scalp to remove build-up, excess oils and dead skin. It also works to moisturise dry scalps, while cultivating a healthy scalp microbiome.
Keeping your scalp and hair at their healthiest and most optimal pH levels requires attention to the health and condition of your strands and scalp-skin. Most importantly, you can support this intricate balance by switching out your stripping shampoos and coating conditioners for haircare solutions, such as MONPURE, that are formulated with pH balance and the structure’s intricate chemical makeup as fundamental priorities.