Potential of Hydrogen, or pH, is the measurement of how acidic or alkali a substance is. It is measured on a scale between 0 and 14. Anything between 0 and 6.9 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and anything between 7.1 and 14 is alkaline. Human hair ph and scalp oil, sebum, has a pH balance between 4.5 and 5.5.
This natural hair acidity prevents fungi and bacteria in the hair and scalp, and keeps the cuticle closed and healthy. A substance that is too alkaline will cause the hair cuticle to open, while a substance that is too acidic will cause the cuticle to contract. Many people don’t realize how important correct pH balance is to their hair. The scalp is a very sensitive area. Maintaining hair pH level is important if you want to avoid hair loss (1).
Ways to balance hair pH
Drink plenty of fluids
One of the best and natural method of balancing the pH level in your hair is also a method for maintaining the overall health of your body. If your hair becomes too dry, its pH level will be affected, as there will not be enough natural oil to keep the hair cuticles closed and protect it from germs, dust, dirt, etc…
By drinking enough fluids, you ensure that your hair pH level is maintained irrespective of any shampoo or conditioner.
Eat protein and fatty acid rich foods
Proteins are the building blocks of our hair. Consuming proteins keeps our hair follicles producing healthy hair. Lack of protein can produce weak and brittle hair.
Our sebaceous glands (2) produce sebum, which is mostly composed of fatty acids. Sebum is needed to protect and maintain healthy hair, by conditioning it and protecting it from bacteria.
Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
It is advisable to dilute the lemon juice or acv with some water (which has a neutral pH of 7). The resulting mixture will have a pH that more closely matches the natural pH of your hair.
It is also useful for balancing the pH level of hair, since its acidic pH level is close to that of hair. Aloe vera has the added benefits of cleansing your hair of contaminants and closing the hair cuticles.
Aloe vera can be applied after washing and conditioning your hair, preferably diluted with some water. Work the solution from the middle of your head towards the ends of your hair and allow it to stay for 30 seconds before rinsing.
Balance your hormones
When hormonal imbalances occur like pregnancy (estrogen) or autoimmune caused, like a thyroid problem (thyroid hormones), changes occur that are mostly noticed at the hair and skin.
Stress and lack of sleep also alter the production of hormones. Estrogen, thyroid hormones and cortisol are found to be linked in poor hair growth or hair loss. With this scenario, the pH in your hair can be greatly altered making your hair and you vulnerable.
Consuming Vitamin A helps in the detoxification of these hormones. Sources of Vitamin A include carrots, vegetables, and the number one source, liver
Limit your caffeine intake to promote adequate sleep and lower your stress levels.