Balancing Your Scalp and Hair’s pH Levels

Published on Jul 07, 2015 in Bath & Body


Many people don’t realize how important correct pH balance is to their hair. The scalp is a very sensitive area. Not the most sensitive, alright, but it does have a dramatic effect on our hair when it is out of balance. Our scalp and hair’s healthiest pH level is between 4.5 – 5.5. This means that when we use products which throw our system off balance, the outcome can be disastrous, especially when using those products daily, as is usually prescribed/advised on the label.

So, What IS pH, Anyway?

The pH scale indicates whether something is acidic or alkaline based.

The pH scale – from most acidic to most alkaline

pH stands for power of Hydrogen. It indicates acidity, or lack thereof. The system was developed in 1909 by a Danish chemist by the name of Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen and was later revised in 1924.

The scale is measured out of 14 units (molecules per liter of hydrogen ions) and anything measuring under 7 is considered to be acidic (0 -6.99), while 7 and above are considered to be alkaline or basic.

Different areas of the body have varying levels of pH:

  • The blood pH is about 7.4
  • Saliva is about 6.5-7.5

The intestines have amazingly varied levels (1.5-8.5) since that is where food and drink are broken down. Different areas of the stomach have very different purposes, and so they have really strange levels of pH.

In general though, there are a lot of variables and factors that can lead to high levels of acidity in our bodies, but the simplified version is that our cells contain minerals that in turn use electrolytes to help oxygenate or get rid of excess waste i.e. acidity. When we lack these minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium), specifically in our kidneys, our bodies cannot deal with the excess acidity levels and in turn, our body develops a negative pH balance.

This may lead to a series of negative health issues both internally, externally and even mentally – but thankfully can be treated with natural products and through natural techniques.

In fact, studies have shown that most of the common health ailments that affect us today can be linked to a high level of acidity in the system (or a low pH balance). So treating this issue is the first step towards recovery and in the case of a healthy person (someone with a  relatively neutral pH level) is the best way to avoid illness in the first place.However, besides having a direct affect on the general quality of our health over time, pH balance is directly related to most of the aspects of beauty that we hold so dearly and often spend great sums of money on trying to sustain, maintain or regain over time. By simply watching what you eat, drink and how you live – you can actually have a greater impact on the quality of your skin and hair health. Good skin and hair is a lot easier to achieve than many of us are aware of – it’s simply a matter of being informed.

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Why is pH Balance Important?

A healthy pH balance means a healthy complexion

A healthy pH balance means a healthy complexion

There is some controversy in the healthcare industry about whether ones pH balance is truly as important as certain people make it out to be.

While some seem to shrug it off like some sort of health food trend, there are a growing number of doctors and healthcare practitioners who agree that a person’s pH balance is deeply important to your general well-being and plays an important role in determining the quality of our health in everyday life.

So, because we’re a blog that’s dedicated to everything natural and holistic, we’re going to go with the ‘it is important’ option because of the holistic knock-on effects that can ultimately be linked back to having an unhealthy pH level.This means that being too acidic or too alkaline can both have adverse effects on your health in general.

When we have an imbalanced pH level, our bodies essentially become breeding grounds for harmful germs and bacteria and this in turn leads to a variety of illnesses, ailments and diseases. By restoring our bodies natural pH balance to anything between 6.8 to 7.2, we can enable our immune system to work more efficiently at eradicating these harmful bacteria before they cause any health issues or the formation of diseases and ailments from taking root in our body.It’s best to think of our bodies pH balance much like we would that of a swimming pool’s – albeit a rather simple metaphor.

When the water is too acidic, the formation of algae and other bacteria starts to occur and this causes a build up of foreign organisms (which aren’t always good for you). On the flip-side, once a pool’s water becomes too alkaline the water begins to calcify which makes it cloudy and impure due to an excess of minerals.

So if we want our bodies to run smoothly and effectively, it’s best for us to ensure that try our best to maintain a healthy pH balance over time as failing to do so can lead to a wide variety of health issues that could otherwise be easily avoided.

How Acid pH and Alkaline pH Affect the Hair Cuticle

Just like our bodies have a natural pH balance, so to do our hair follicles and this helps them to remain healthy and strong over the course of our lives whilst preventing the buildup of fungi and bacteria that can ultimately lead to issues like inflammation and infections.

In general, our hair follicles have a more acidic base at around 4.5 – 5.5 on the pH level spectrum. This acidity is due to a thin layer of oil (sebum oil), salt and water that occurs on each hair follicle on our head which we refer to as the mantle. This mantle helps to keep our cuticles down and protects our hair from drying out or becoming frizzy and brittle – ultimately leading to breakage.

Unfortunately, most of the conventional hair care products that we use on a regular basis to wash our hair with are not at the right pH balance (in the 4.5 – 5.5 range) and therefore they tend to strip this thin mantle layer from our hair follicles, causing them to become dry, brittle and frizzy or leading to breakage over time with consistent use.On top of this, most of the conventional hair care products that we use tend to contain chemical ingredients (such as phthalates, parabens, ‘fragrances’ or a variety of other chemical-based solvents) which help to increase the product’s ability to lather and remove dirt and grime from our scalps. However, this tends to result in more than simply removing the dirt and grime from our scalps – but everything else as well – even the stuff our hair needs to remain strong and healthy.

So it’s important for us, or at least those of us who actually care about the quality and health of our hair, to ensure that we use hair care products that are made with ingredients that are more suited to our hair’s natural pH balance as a means of preserving the health and strength of our hair follicles whilst enabling better growth and keeping our scalp free of fungi and bacteria at the same time.It’s a lot easier to achieve than it sounds (some may squint at the chemistry of it all and simply shrug it off), but the truth is that by sticking to natural products and ensuring that you use the correct measurements of both acidic and alkaline ingredients that aren’t too far on either end of the spectrum in your own DIY shampoo recipe, or simply buying pH balanced hair care products, you can effectively reverse a great deal of the damage that naturally occurs to our hair over time as well as the damage caused by using incorrectly balanced hair care products.

How My Hair Changed When I Started Focusing on pH Levels

For a long time, I had been suffering from dry, frizzy hair. I tend to have naturally oily hair – so I found it strange that my hair was becoming so dry and brittle. For a while I blamed it on the weather and thought it had something to do with the hot, dry summer we had been experiencing.

It was after trying the third bottle of a different shampoo brand and getting the same results after a month of washing that I decided to do some research.

Help fight off dry, frizzy hair by maintaining your pH balance

Help fight off dry, frizzy hair by maintaining your pH balance

It was then that I found out about pH balance and how it could affect the overall quality, strength and health of my hair over time. I immediately chucked out all my conventional shampoos and conditioners and started looking for products that were pH balanced to my hair.

But I didn’t stop there – and neither should you. While using hair care products with the correct pH balance is an important first step towards achieving a balanced head of hair, the truth is that you have to analyse your entire diet and in order to ensure that your body’s pH balance is within the healthy range as well.Otherwise, the effects of the pH balanced shampoo will simply be overshadowed by an unbalanced body which has a direct affect on the quality of your hair.

Since monitoring my own pH balance (as much as I can at least), I’ve seen tremendous changes not only in the quality, health and strength of my hair, but also my overall health in general. Once we manage to balance out our body’s pH level, we lay the foundation for a strong and functioning immune system as well as allowing our body’s to regulate itself and flush out toxins more effectively.

This has a massive impact on the quality of our organ health (including our skin and hair) as well as our mental and emotional states and is the easiest way to ensure a healthy body and mind without the use of harmful pharmaceutical drugs or costly and dangerous surgeries.

All About That Alkaline Foods

Try lemon juice in your hair for a natural solution to balance your hairs pH levels.

Lemon juice is a natural solution for balancing the hair’s pH levels

pH levels can affect many areas of your body, and it is advised to keep them in check so you know your body is functioning properly. The pH scale ranges from 0-14.

Any substance below 7 is considered an acid, and any substance above 7 is considered an alkali. Ideally, you would want to test your hair product’s pH level at home (using a pH strip, available at any pharmacy), to see if that product will in fact give you the desired result.Keeping your pH levels in check means giving your body the tools it needs to fend off unwanted intruders: dirt, fungi, bacteria, chemicals, and so forth. Among the best natural products for hair are lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera (to name a few).

Each of us has a slightly different hair and scalp makeup. We eat differently, have a different genetic background, and come from different environments and locations. What works for you may not work for another. These factors change as well – and often.

Hard and soft water also play a part in aiding or hindering the effects of the hair products you are using. It is best to aim for something that personally fits your hair and scalp, and so it isn’t uncommon for those interested in keeping their hair healthy to make their own concoctions at home. When executed properly, a personal shampoo and conditioner can do wonders. They are also usually relatively cheap, since they are home made, and they can change the way you think about your hair’s health.

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The Right Hair Products Means the Right Hair Treatment

Get Your Hair Game on Point.

Get Your Hair Game on Point.

Many times, people may feel they are doing their hair a favor by buying some over-the-counter, store brand shampoo and conditioner, when in fact they are setting themselves up for scalp trouble. It feels good at first, but then things change and throw the system out of whack.

Dandruff, itchiness, redness, dryness, discomfort, and other “lovely” symptoms are all usually the result of improper pH balance.

If you are interested in taking good care of yourself and of your body, consider putting in some effort, doing the research, and finding out which products really do work best for you. Remember, the substances and ingredients you put into your scalp may quickly find their way into your bloodstream. I know that I for one do *not* want all kinds of chemicals and preservatives in my system. Do you?

This is why getting educated on the subject of scalp and hair health is key. We all know what a bad hair day can do to a person’s mood, and if you want to treat yourself right – go natural.


Keeping the pH levels in balance helps the moisture and positive ingredients in hair products remain locked inside the hair, thus providing it with the desired effect. When you use a product that is right for you, you are making sure that your hair remains hydrated and vital. Dryness and flakes are a pain to get rid of, and it is best not to start yo-yo’ing back and forth.

Scalp and hair may also change due to weather. Some people find they need to use one recipe for summer and another for winter. It is definitely worth checking out. Like I said, a bit of research and self-evaluation will go a long way. That way, you will be confident of what you are putting on your scalp and in your body. Your hair will thank you. Guaranteed

Thanks for reading our pH feature. Check out our Lush, Dove, and Too Faced features here at Maple Holistics!