Product Combinations: A Lesson in pH Balance (1)

Hey beauts!

Do we remember when AB took us back to school with her Hair Basics series? I actually liked those posts. Personally, it helps for me think in a logical sense, especially because I have a love for all things human biology. (I was that person that dreamed about anatomy class and spent all my free time in the dissection room, peeking into open body cavities).

Last week Thursday, I was one of the ladies that were treated to a pre-valentine’s dinner with Obia of Obia Natural, organised by Jullian R Addo of Bella Kinks. The highlight of that entire evening for me was when Obia came up in her beautiful red dress, and held up cards as she taught an entranced room of naturalistas all about pH and why it matters. I am going to attempt to do a recap for you. Please, please, don’t get put off just yet. You WANT to have this information and I promise you, it’ll be one of those ‘Aha’ moments!

WARNING: No pictures ahead :(.

What is a pH, anyway?

Potential Hydrogen. Potentiation of Hydrogen. Power of Hydrogen.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. What we need to know is that pH is a measure of how much Hydrogen ions are contained is a solution. The more hydrogen ions that a solution has, the more acidic that solution is. The less hydrogen ions, the more basic that solution is.

Remember how when we learnt about H2O, we went around referring to water as H2O? That’s because water is the most common example of when a solution is neither acidic, nor basic. It’s just right; it’s neutral. So usually, when we talk about pH balance, we mean a solution that is synonymous to water.

Solutions (because we think of them as liquid), usually have both hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH-). So an acidic solution = more H+, less OH-; and a basic solution = less H+, more OH-.

Is this making any sense so far?

Now, there is a pH scale that is used to measure how acidic, or basic a solution is.

1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       9       10       11       12       13       14

most acidic                                Neutral                                                        most basic

What does this have to do with me and my hair though?

Hair has a pH that ranges from 4.5 – 5.5. This is the pH at which your hair is its healthiest. Of course, because you and I are different, some people might have a hair pH of 4 or 6, but typically this is the expected pH of healthy hair. For those of us who took some classes in agricultural science, we know that one of the characteristics of good soil for plant growth is that it should have a good pH that will promote growth. The same thing goes for our hair.

Ooookaayy… Now what?

The products you put in your hair have pHs too! And these alter the pH of your hair, and the structure of your hair!

As a general rule of thumb, bases open your cuticle and acids close your cuticle. Just like hot water opens your cuticle and cold water closes your cuticle.

Pause. This cuticle thing, I can’t see it. Why should it matter? Well, you actually can. The cuticle is the outer covering of your hair shaft (or strands). It’s what makes our hair strong and protects it from damage. But it is water resistant. So in order to get any moisture in, those cuticles have to be opened (or raised). So this means that in caring for your hair, you want to begin with products (and water) that open up your cuticles. Then, you want to end with products (and water) that close your cuticles i.e. locks in the moisture.

Ok. I’m going to let you sit on this for today. Tomorrow, we will look at our common household and store brought products, and determine if we use them in a pH balanced manner.

– Mee Mee

xx.