Here’s what I know about the pH balance of hair

What else can you balance on your head besides pH?

Apparently I should have paid attention in chemistry class.  That much is now clear.  But how was I to know that all those equations actually make up a very integral and very fundamental part of human life?  Come to think of it, I probably could have looked at the syllabus to find that out.  But it was several pages long, and I don’t have much patience for science.

As it turns out, being Mother Nature’s Maid tries the small amount of science patience that I actually do possess.  Funny how Karma works, isn’t it?  (I guess my chakra-balancing hasn’t been as successful as I thought.)

Since I gave up on my homemade shampoo due to the extensive emotional damage I was suffering at the hands of my natural recipes, I have delved into more research.  This week’s answer to greasy hair problems: pH.

If you thought (like I did) that pH is something only present in the aqua blue waters of your average backyard pool, then you, my friend, are sorrowfully mistaken.  There’s a whole world of pH levels out there spiraling and tipping out of control, just waiting to be balanced.  And balance it we will…at least the hair part.

On the pH scale, which runs from 0 – 14, human hair settles on the acidic side somewhere between 4.5 – 5.5, and keeping your locks at that level has become the latest craze in natural hair careHere’s a great video with a wealth of information about pH balancing and how it can benefit your hair, courtesy of Sanata.

Apparently, the goal of pH balancing is to return your hair to its natural pH levels (pH 4.5 – 5.5).  Use a product that is too alkaline (pH 7.1 – 14), and it will open the cuticle and strip your hair of its natural oils; use a product that is too acidic (pH 0 – 6.9), and the cuticle will contract.  Because hair naturally falls in the acidic range, it seems safer to air on the more acidic side than the more alkaline side.

Some hair gurus suggest that soap cleans so well because it is alkaline and lifts the hair cuticle to remove build-up, and then pH balancing can come afterward.  Thus, your shampoo doesn’t make a difference, as long as you use a pH balancing rinse or leave-in conditioner to return your hair to its natural pH level.

So what am I taking away from all of this?  Aloe vera.

Aloe vera has a pH of 4 – 4.5, and is highly recommended for hair rinses and shampoos as a balancer.     After doing some research, I found a few shampoo recipes that seemed promising.  I added my own twist, and boom – I’m back in the game.

Here’s my new recipe:

  • 1/4 C Aloe Vera Gel
  • 1/8 C Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile Soap
  • 10 drops jojoba oil
  • 2 drops tea tree oil

Here’s the twist – this time, I’m slowly mixing my homemade shampoo into a 3oz container of my Herbal Essences.  Each time I wash my hair, I top off the Herbal Essences bottle with my Aloe mix.  I’m  hoping to come away with a pH-balancing shampoo that may or may not need to be followed by a pH-balancing rinse.  But one thing at a time – science requires patience!  Hopefully this gradual shift will create a smooth transition.

Honestly though, did you really think I could give up on shampoo for good?


9 thoughts on “Here’s what I know about the pH balance of hair

  1. Oh boy…here we go again. Hope it is a smooth transition and not another bumpy ride. Glad to see you are not a quitter. Good luck.

  2. TMI on the chemistry front – not my thing. Didn’t take you long to get back on the horse though. Good luck with Round 2 , uh…3, maybe 4??? I’ve lost track of the trial you are on – but here’s hopin…………………….

    • Are those glasses???? Haha I’m glad you enjoyed the post!!! I tried to avoid it as long as I could, but science has caught up with me! I actually got quite a bit of feedback from my more science-minded friends about this post, so maybe I’ve found a new crowd-pleasing topic 🙂 Thanks for reading!!!!!

  3. I think there is still some leftover PH up and PH down pool chemicals in the garage that you can use. Of course, it didn’t do a great job with the pool ……. but it’s free if you want it.

  4. Even I don’t use homemade shampoo…but I do use an all-natural shampoo from Whole Foods. It’s called “everyday shampoo” and is made from saponified shea butter. They only sell in huge bottles so idk how you would sample it though. But anyway, my point is that there are a lot of natural shampoo options out there if you’re curious, and it may be a good way to transition from chemicals to purely homemade…that is if you have the extra $$!

    • Thanks!!! At the moment, I’m working on diluting my chemical shampoo with homemade Aloe Vera/Castile shampoo. Right now I’m at about 25% homemade to 75% traditional. It’s working good so far, but if THIS doesn’t work, then either I give up or I try an even smoother transition with natural shampoo. I would definitely pay some extra $$ to get out of a hair crisis if one comes along!!! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ve finally found a solution to my homemade sham problems! Thanks for all your advice 🙂

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