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Do you think it is necessary to use a shampoo that is pH balanced? The answer is yes. Shampoos that are pH balanced are the optimal cleansers to use, because they do not strip too much of the natural oil sebum from the hair and scalp. Other reasons why you want to use pH-balanced shampoo include:

  • preventing tangling
  • reducing frizz
  • reducing dryness
  • maintaining the hair’s natural shine
  • preventing breakage
  • keeping the hair’s cuticle sealed

What is pH?

The pH represents how acidic, alkaline, or neutral a solution is.  It is measured on a scale between 0 and 14. A solution is acidic when it is between 0 and 6.9, alkaline is between 7.1 and 14, and 7 is considered neutral.

What does pH-balanced shampoo do to hair?

It is important to use a pH-balanced shampoo because of the effects alkaline shampoos have on human hair and sebum. Sebum is a natural oil secreted by the sebaceous glands that is responsible for decreasing water loss from the epidermis and helps prevent infection by protecting the skin from fungus and bacteria.

What should your shampoo’s pH level be? 

It is best to use a shampoo that has a pH between 5 and 7 so that sebum is at the right balance on the hair and scalp.

Reasons to use a pH-balanced shampoo

1. For a flaky scalp

Sebum has a pH of 4.5 and 5.5. Alkaline shampoos are on the higher end of the pH scale and can strip too much sebum from the scalp, causing dandruff and itching. Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos tend to be more alkaline and are prescribed because they thoroughly remove scales, dirt, and bacteria off the scalp, but using more alkaline shampoos can make your scalp disorder worse.

If you have a flaky scalp problem, try to use a shampoo with a pH between 6 or 7. Kera Care Dry & Itchy Anti-Dandruff Moisturizing Shampoo has a pH of 6.0. This shampoo will combat flakes and cleanses the scalp without stripping too much sebum. If you want a sulfate-free formula try Malibu Scalp Wellness Shampoo, which has a pH range between 6 and 7.

2. For frizzy, stripped hair

According to the Journal of Trichology“Alkaline pH may increase the negative electrical charge of the hair fiber surface and, therefore, increase friction between the fibers. This may lead to cuticle damage and fiber breakage. It is a reality and not a myth that lower pH of shampoos may cause less frizz for generating less negative static electricity on the fiber surface.” If you are looking for a clarifying shampoo that will cleanse without stripping your hair, try Affirm MoisturRight Clarifying Shampoo, which has a pH of 5.5. 

3. For color-treated hair

Our hair’s cuticle layer opens when touched by solutions such as water or alkaline-based hair products, such as permanent hair color.  When the cuticle is open, it exposes the interior layers of the hair to damage if the cuticle is not closed back down. You have to use an acidic shampoo, which helps to seal the cuticle and retain proper moisture balance in the hair. A pH balanced color-treated shampoo I recommend is Joico K-PAK Color Therapy.  This shampoo has a range between 4.5 and 5.5, which will keep prevent your color treated hair from drying out, tangling and lacking shine. 

This article has been updated for grammar and clarity.

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