Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wiry, Frizzy, Dry Hair After Shampooing? Let's Talk PH!

A good hair day starts with choosing a good shampoo. Your cuticles hold the key to good hair days; happy cuticles equals shiny, strong, and frizz free strands! 

You may be asking, what are cuticles? The cuticles of your hair is actually a structure of overlapping scales located along the hair shaft that protects the cortex of the hair. They have the ability to open and close to receive nutrients and moisture, as well as chemicals such as color and relaxers. When your hair is healthy, the cuticles are tightly closed.

PH balance plays a major role in your hair care regimen. PH levels range from 1-14, with 1-6.9 representing the acidic range, and 7.1-14 being alkaline [7 is neither acidic or alkaline; it is neutral]. To put this into perspective, the PH level of your hair is about 4.5-5.5 making it slightly acidic, while other products like hair color and relaxers are highly alkaline. - When the PH of your hair is at optimum levels, the cuticles remain tightly closed. Closed cuticles = shiny, smooth, frizz free locks. 

When you disrupt the optimal PH levels of your hair, you will notice your hair is more prone to tangles, matting and knots, because the hair shaft is no longer smooth so the rough shaft tangles easily with other strands due to the scales intermingling. Dull hair can also be a result of out-of-wack PH levels as well because cuticles that are open can't reflect light [which diminishes the sheen potential of your hair]. Finally, any dryness incurred is due to an open cuticle which acts as an escape route for moisture. Remember, cuticles are also responsible for keeping moisture in. 

Some examples of how shampoo's with different PH levels work:
  • Most people don't like clarifying shampoo's because they tend to leave your hair dry, stiff and wiry! This is due to the surfactants in the shampoo, which significantly raises the PH level of the hair. 
  • Neutralizing shampoo's are always used after a relaxer, this is because they are on the acidic end, so they aid in balancing the PH [closing the cuticles], while stopping the "relaxing process".
Often it is the products we use when shampooing our hair that starts the laundry list of issues. Raised cuticles can make detangling a pain, and can also ruin your finished style with frizz and dullness. This is why it's imperative we start with a slightly acidic, yet moisturizing shampoo, to gently cleanse yet keep the cuticles closed.
When choosing shampoo's, it is important to remember that shampoo's marked as "cleansing" may have slightly higher PH levels [from 4.5-9] than that of a moisturizing shampoo [normally 4.5-5.5].  It is for this reason that I always follow up with a moisturizing shampoo after using a "cleansing shampoo" or "clarifying/chelating product". Following up with a moisturizing shampoo will quickly whip the PH balance of the hair back to healthy levels.  Here is a short, yet useful list of wallet-friendly shampoo's I love:

  • Hello Hydration Shampoo
  • Suave Professionals Almond & Shea Butter Shampoo
  • Yes 2 Carrots Nourishing Shampoo
Now that you have chosen the proper shampoo, make sure your cuticles remain closed throughout the shampoo & conditioning session. Here's how:
Often we use heat to condition our hair. Remember that heat can open up the cuticles as well. This is why it is important to rinse out conditioner with cool/cold water to seal the cuticles! 

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  1. hey i see my shampoo up there! Healthy hydrations....i recommend the conditioner to everyone too! Thanks for the PH Info.


  2. Great post ! thanks for these very important and great reminders. Take care.


  3. I wash my human hair braids with clarifying shampoo to clean the buildup on the hair thats growing out and i always wondered why the hair was then a little more wiry and dry. Now it makes sense. I'll def add another shampoo to the regime when i do that.

  4. I use Trader Joes 'Balanced Moisturizing' shampoo to cleanse then I follow up with Kera Care 'Hydrating Detangling Shampoo' which is sulfate-free, to detangle. That combo works wonders at cleansing and softening my hair!

  5. good to know! i never take into account ph, but you and kimmaytube emphasize it and i need to figure that stuff out


  6. YES! I have been a strong advocate of having a balanced pH for hair. It is so important to not just use products without knowing how it works on hair. pH balanced hair can be healthier than people who spend hundreds of dollars on expensive hair care products. love this post. like...seriously love it!

  7. I want to try the Yes to Carrots & Cucumbers products, I often see them in Marshall's on the impulse shoppers aisle leading to the register lol

    Great post!

  8. It does make a difference. I also check it in my leave-ins... I used to moisturize twice a day and now I can go for 2 to 3 days without moisturizing. I'm so glad I tried.

  9. This is so important. I was using a shampoo that has a high pH and it was exacerbating my flaky scalp.
    I've heard about washing conditioner out with cool water, but I've been confused about what to do while shampooing - should I also shampoo hair w/ cool water?

  10. Great info! I think I'll be trying the Yes to Carrots soon. Thanks for posting!

  11. These were some good tips but I just wanted to clarify that cuticles cannot "open" and "close". Your hair would have to go through extreme conditions to "open". You can only lift your cuticle to receive moisture and close it more (but not completely) to lock moisture in.

  12. One of my favorites was KeraCare's Hydrating Detangling shampoo. It leaves my hair so soft after a shampoo!!! It is PH balanced!!! Now, it also comes in sulfate-free!! mmm... Thanks for the reminder I need to go back to using it!!!

  13. Hi!
    Can I use the ACV after shampooing but before using my conditioner? I need to really clean my hair, I'm taking out braids.

  14. very helpful! i love this post and this site!
    i have been having ph problems and wasnt sure if i should use a shampoo with a higher ph to raise the cuticles. but i guess using a ph of 4 is good because the warm water will be enough to raise my cuticles and prepare my hair to absorb moisture during my deep conditioner!


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