How To Find pH Level Of Shampoo & Why pH Of Hair Matters!

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So many things can affect our hair. Our genes, the weather, hormones, what we eat, the products that we use, our washing cycle, etc. Isn’t it pHunny how so much can be the make or break when it comes to having a good or bad hair day? Hold on, did something in the last sentence seem strange to you? Was something out of place? That’s right, we have to be careful when it comes to using things involving pH. We can’t just throw it around willy-nilly. 

And if we have to take pH seriously when it comes to spelling, how much more so when it comes to our hair? So how can we find the pH level of our shampoo? And why does the pH of our hair matter in the first place? Keep on reading to find out!

What Is pH Balance? What Does pH Stand For?

Woman with back facing camera looking at bridge.

Your hair is affected by pH.

pH stands for the power of hydrogen. pH levels are used to indicate the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, and they measure the concentration of hydrogen items in a solution.

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with neutral substances such as water having a pH of 7. Anything lower than 7 is acidic, while anything above it is an alkaline. To give you a frame of reference, let’s review some of the pH levels of a few common items. Lemon juice, for example, comes in at an acidic 2.4, whereas ammonia is on the alkaline end of the spectrum with a pH level of 11.5.

Your body’s pH balance refers to the level of acids and bases in your blood that lets your body function at its best. Our body is usually able to take care of itself and regulate pH levels naturally, with the help of the kidneys and lungs. Under normal circumstances, a healthy pH level for our blood is 7.4. Yet if our lungs or kidneys stop working properly, we can experience issues such as acidosis and alkalosis.

When it comes to our hair, pH is still very much an issue. A normal pH balance for our locks and our scalp’s sebum is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5. The acidic nature of our hair and scalp helps prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. This lets the cuticle remain closed and healthy. Unfortunately, some of the products that we use can affect our hair’s pH levels in a bad way. This can lead to hair looking dry and brittle. It will also affect the cuticles, ruining the growth of otherwise healthy hair.

pH Balanced Shampoo Explained

Woman in shower washing brunette hair.

Woman washing her hair.

Since we’ve discussed the importance of hair pH balance, we now need to get to the importance of pH shampoo. An ideal shampoo is one that will keep your head and scalp balanced and consequently healthy. A shampoo that is considered ph balanced is a shampoo whose manufacturers have pinpointed a specific pH level where the shampoo will work the best. The manufacturer will then closely monitor the making of the shampoo in order to ensure that it stays at the right pH level, and they will add what they need to in order to balance it out if necessary.

pH balanced shampoo will not be on either of the extreme ends of the spectrum. This ensures that your cuticles stay closed and that your hair does not lose too much moisture. It will also help with taming frizz and minimizing static. Furthermore, using a pH balanced shampoo helps make sure that your scalp won’t create too much oil after you clean your hair. Oily hair only means that we want to wash our hair more often, and if you’re using a shampoo that isn’t properly balanced, this will just continue to perpetuate the problem. Hair which has undergone coloring or other treatments might require a differently pH balanced shampoo in order to keep it healthy.  

How To Find pH Level Of Shampoo

It’s great to know why shampoo pH levels are so important (reminder: overall, a low pH shampoo will cause less frizziness and breakage and not leave your hair dry), but it doesn’t really help much if you don’t know how to find a shampoo of the right pH level.

It turns out that companies aren’t obligated to publicize the pH levels of their shampoos on the bottles. You’ll want your shampoo to be at a pH level similar to the level of your hair and scalp, and you can actually measure the pH of your shampoo to see how it stacks up.

In order to do this, you can easily purchase some pH testing strips. If your shampoo is the liquidy type, pour some onto a plate and soak part of the strip in it. Wait for a minute as it changes colors until it gets to the final measurement. If your shampoo is of a creamier consistency, you might need to apply a coating of the shampoo to the strip and wait a few extra minutes as it measures the pH. The results might be slightly less accurate with this consistency, but it will give you a general idea of the shampoo’s pH level.


You probably remember learning about pH in school. Maybe you even remember doing a few experiments on it. But one thing you don’t want to experiment with is your hair! We have enough things that can go wrong with our precious locks, so we don’t need anything else to add to the list.

It’s important that we always understand what we’re using on our hair and scalp, as this will directly affect our ‘do. Knowing how pH comes into play can help you better understand the needs of your hair and what you can do to help it.

So if your shampoo says its pH level, then great! But if not, take matters into your own hands and test it for yourself.

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