Redken pH Bonder Review

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A big part of coloring your hair is keeping the color pigments inside your strands. You can thereby get the most value out of the money you spend. This is definitely the case when you color your hair in a salon. You shell out top dollar for a professional’s treatment. And then it is on you to keep it going and make the treatment last. This is our review of the Redken Post-Service pH Bonder, which is meant to be used after the appointment with your stylist.

Ever since the 90’s – or maybe before? – the initials “pH” have been making a much more pronounced appearance in commercials and hair care products in general. They seem to be somewhat over-represented in the copy which marketing departments use. But it makes sense because nowadays consumers are a lot more savvy and knowledgeable and a lot more inquisitive. This is true especially when it comes to products they are putting into hair which already has some damage.

So, what’s the deal with the hair, scalp, and levels of pH?

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Your Hair And pH Levels Explained

Woman with a hat turning around and smiling.

A pH level of 4.5 – 5.5 is ideal for your hair and scalp.

Have you ever wondered about your hair and pH levels? The pH scale refers to “power of Hydrogen” (sometimes the ‘p’ stands for “potential”). It represents levels of acidity and alkalinity in the natural world and in living organisms. Our human body works on different plains. First of all, there is the inside and outside of the physical body itself. Next, there are different levels within those two categories. For example, the pH level of our outermost layer of skin (aka epidermis) is vastly different than the pH levels of the stomach. Those two (skin and stomach) are quite different than the pH of the blood or the heart with its various chambers.

The pH scale came into being at the beginning of the 20th century. Further tweaking came sometime after the First World War. When dealing with the hair and scalp, there is a level of pH which is normal and healthy. This contributes to the proper growth of hair. The level is usually 4.5 – 5.5. This means that you want to be using products that won’t interfere with the balance and won’t throw it off.

If you use products or undergo procedures that cause an imbalance, there are different ways to regain it. This can keep the scalp and hair strands looking and feeling good. Researchers are still studying what constitutes the best pH levels for scalp and hair, though. It is not at all evident that it should be a single number on the spectrum. Or that it should be a very narrow range. What we know for sure is that the idea behind pH-balanced products and their supposed benefits is not some hairdresser’s myth or marketing shtick.

How To Naturally Restore The pH Balance In Your Hair

Some people couldn’t care less about their body’s pH balance, and they claim that pH-related products are overrated. But these levels of acidity are not arbitrary. They seem to determine a lot more than the naysayers would have us believe. Being too acidic or too alkaline is not the goal since homeostasis is what we are all striving for. It’s that harmonious state of physical being that best sustains life and helps the organism stay healthy and productive.

So okay, that’s pH on the whole. What about hair specifically? Does it matter? You can be the judge. Bacteria and fungi have an easier time building up in hair which isn’t balanced. This can eventually lead to infections and skin diseases. Our follicles have oil, salt, and water, which contribute to their own unique level of pH. Maintaining that follicle pH means that the hair stays stronger and healthier over time and that it will be less susceptible to outside influences.

Here are some ways to naturally restore the pH balance in your hair:

  • If you have hair that is overly oily, use something which is naturally acidic. Something such as apple cider vinegar can treat it and bring it back to normal. Dilute the ACV with water. Or, use an ACV-containing hair care product which is specifically meant to balance your pH levels.
  • Diet is a preventive measure more than a reactive one, but it can also help when the situation is already there. Eating foods that are high in protein and fatty acids can help the body with its production of sebum, and that is a proven way of regulating the production of your natural oil and maintaining proper pH.
  • Hormonal imbalance can be the cause of pH imbalance, among many other conditions. There are lots of different factors that go into regulating our hormones and their functionality. So if you feel your hormones may be out of whack, check with your physician. Two ways to naturally increase the balance of hormones are A) getting enough proper sleep, and B) finding your own ways to remove stress and relax.

Redken pH Bonder Explained

Bottle of Redken's pH bonder post-service perfector.

Redken’s pH bonder post-service perfector.

Some time after bleaching and/or coloring your hair, you may find that the chemicals used in the coloring process have altered the way your hair looks and feels. Redken has several pH bonder products available, and these may be able to help. Some of them are for use by salon professionals. Others are for use by the client as aftercare.

The idea guiding Redken’s pH bonder series is that it is possible to prevent the breaking of the bonds which exist within the hair strand, even when the hair is subject to a harsh chemical treatment. Unlike other products which primarily restore bonds which have already broken, Redken’s bonder products are formulated to prevent breakage from occurring, to begin with. Even though it has been compared to products such as Olaplex, and even though the two may boast similar results (with some heads of hair) – they don’t do exactly the same thing and are not used in the same way.

The bonder consists of a treatment and conditioner. Both of these are added to the highlighter or color mixture at the salon. It is part of the chemical process, and the salon pros who use Redken’s products usually know their stuff. Afterward, there is the follow-up to take home, which is recommended but optional. It mostly helps to ensure that the bonds do not break and that the hair remains free of damage and breakage in the post-session phase.

This “Post-Service Perfector”, also known as Redken pH-Bonder #3, is the one which is available to consumers for home use. Please note that there is also the Color Extend line of products, a separate series which also includes a pH bonder cream alongside a shampoo and conditioner.

Redken pH Bonder Ingredients Breakdown

The ingredients in Redken’s pH bonder are not out of the ordinary, as far as factory-made hair products go. It contains a fairly regular assortment of film formers, binders, emulsifiers, preservatives, moisturizers, and conditioners for skin and hair. But this product also carries a few pH controllers and adjusters (maleic acid, ethanolamine, citric acid), and it is these ingredients that make the product what it is.

The company recommends using this product once a week, which seems reasonable. The ingredients are not the most natural (except for a few), so even without the presence of parabens or sulfates, it is not something you’d want to use every day. Following the company’s rule of thumb of one use per week before shampooing should be enough for you to get the results you want, without over-exposing and potentially compromising your colored or highlighted locks.

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Redken pH Bonder Review

Back of woman with short blonde hair.

A lot of factors play into how effective this product will be on your hair.

When I used this product, I wanted to use it specifically not as directed to see how my hair would react to it as a standalone item. Redken says you should apply to towel-damp hair, wait 10 minutes, and rinse out. Then, follow up with Redken shampoo and conditioner.

The Redken pH bonder doesn’t have a great scent, in my opinion. But then again, I am not expecting anything as far as fragrance goes. This is a once-a-week pre-shampoo treatment for colored hair, so why bother putting in a lot of fragrance – especially if it will be covered immediately with other hair products? I’ve never been a fan of needlessly adding fragrances, so I am happy with that. As far as I am concerned, cosmetics companies can often afford to keep the scent weak and subtle, and they should be putting more thought into the ingredients doing the real work.

As for the actual product… it’s not that simple. It was easy to use and all, and there is nothing wrong with the product itself. But I personally had difficulties seeing a vast improvement which warranted its use. Granted, this could also have had something to do with the other products I was using at the time, but I have no real way of knowing that. As a standalone post-salon treatment, it didn’t strike me as absolutely necessary.

However, if you find that your hair is easily stripped of color and vitality and that your current routine and products don’t get your hair to a place where you’re happy with it – definitely change your routine. And if you’ve been treated at a salon with Redken #1 and #2, there is no reason not to go home with Redken’s Post-Service pH Bonder.

Is Redken pH Bonder Safe?

Unlike with food and drugs, the FDA has no seal of safety or stamp of approval to offer the consumers of hair care and skin care products. Cosmetics don’t fall under the category of food OR drugs, because they are not medicinal in nature and we do not consume them internally. So, to claim anything in the Redken pH bonder category is “safe” is subjective, and it doesn’t have the backing of any government establishment.

That being said, Redken is a reputable and well-known hair care company. It has a history of close to 60 years, a network of salons, and an army of die-hard fans. I assume they wouldn’t risk putting out a product that does not live up to their standards or which is otherwise unsafe. Does this mean they automatically get a pass? No, it doesn’t. Reviewers and forum-posters from all over the globe have been giving their opinion of this product and its safety since it came out, and it seems to be safe and stable.

The safety of cosmetics products is a relative thing. Some are more sensitive to irritants than others, some are more susceptible to allergies than others. Even when a cosmetics product is touted as being perfectly safe, you’ll find someone somewhere who has been harmed by it, to some degree. There are no 100% guarantees of success or failure, so then it becomes more a question of risk, reward, and priority.


As fun and creative as color can be, it is also an investment. It costs money, takes time and utilizes energy, and you don’t want to mess it up. Products like Redken’s Post-Service pH Bonder can help you make the most of your salon session. All colors and dyes will fade eventually, that much is a given. But if you buy the wrong products – or when you use the right products the wrong way – it could be detrimental to the pigmentation’s lifespan.

Before anything, this means listening to your stylist and asking relevant questions. Ideally, you want to know more about the work that they’re doing on your hair, because then you will be able to make an informed decision on the future of your look and figure out the best way to get there. Lengthening the time between appointments without compromising the scalp and hair – that’s your goal, really. You paid the money, got the work done, and now it is up to you to keep it going.

As always, the one who sits in the chair of judgment is you. Whether it’s Redken’s pH bonder or some other one, the only person who can judge its efficacy and final result is you. Does it do what it claims? Do you feel it did what it claimed? Was it worth the money and effort? And ultimately, the most important and relevant question is: would you buy it again?

For me, the answer is a solid maybe. Personally, it depends on how I get the color done, and on my budget. I feel I should give it another shot, and this time do it as Redken recommends: doing it at a Redken salon, applying pH bonder once a week, and using their shampoo and conditioner to finish up the routine.

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