Chemistry? What is the pH Level of a Shampoo? {Balanced…}

If you’ve ever noticed your hair is frizzy, dry, damaged, or tangles easily, this may be caused by your shampoo or more specifically by the pH levels of your shampoo. But what is pH and why is the right level important for your hair?

What are pH Levels?

Any junior high student knows that pH stands for potential of Hydrogen. According to Maja Tisma at, in regards to shampoos and soaps, this unit of measurement tells you whether your shampoo is more acidic, alkaline, or neutral in between. When choosing your shampoo, it is important to look at the pH scale, say the experts at Shaggin Salon. This scale ranges from 0 to 14, with seven being shampoo pH levelneutral. This neutral level is usually used for baby shampoos with a no-tears formula.

The lower range of the scale, from one to six means that the solution will be more acidic, while the higher numbers ranging from eight to 14 means it will be more alkaline. To put it in layman’s terms, lower numbers are more like vinegar while higher levels are found in products like bleach. When purchasing a shampoo, it is important to keep the pH level in a range of five to seven to be sure it will not damage your hair, causing scalp irritation that could lead to dandruff or other issues or strip away the moisture and triggering excessive amounts of oil to be produced.

Why You Need a pH Balanced Shampoo

There are a few different reasons why having a pH shampoo is good for your hair. Since the sebum your hair produces is slightly acidic, you need a shampoo that will match this in order for your hair can be at its healthiest, says Stephanie Crumley HillOne of the most important reasons for this is to keep the cuticle closed. Alkaline products can actually open the overlapping scales on your hair’s cuticles. Even simple water can open these scales. This is why having a slightly acidic shampoo is important because this will close the cuticle again keeping it safe from harm from environmental and styling damage.

Shampoo pH Level for Colored HairThis is especially important when coloring your hair because the dye itself will open the cuticle to allow the color to fully saturate the hair. A pH balanced shampoo designed for color treated hair will help to keep the cuticle closed, reducing damage, and retaining your color.

Oiliness is also an issue if your shampoo is not pH balanced correctly. This is because the sebum produced is naturally acidic. Your shampoo must match this because if you strip away too much of your natural oils, your scalp goes into panic mode and overcompensates. Too much alkaline in your shampoo can actually cause dandruff and itchiness because it will strip too much of the oil as well, states licensed cosmetologist and certified IAT trichologist, Sophia Emmanuel.

Many dandruff shampoos have a higher alkaline solution, which can remove the flakes, dirt, and oils from your hair but will also strip away the moisture needed for your scalp to recover and can actually make the problem worse. A pH balanced shampoo will heal and treat the issue. Even simple frizziness can be cured by using a pH balanced shampoo. Because high alkaline ranges can cause higher levels of negative electrical charges in the fibers of your hair, breakage and cuticle damage can be the result.

By using a pH balanced shampoo, whether regular or clarifying, you can reduce the damage, and smoothing your hair and decreasing the amount of breakage and split ends. This will make it easier to manage when styling as well.

Where Can You Find pH Balanced Shampoos?

Hair DresserPH balanced shampoos can be found anywhere shampoo is sold including your local drugstore, big box stores, and of course at any salon. Many hair product manufacturers claim their shampoos are pH balanced, but it is best to check the bottle before you buy to see for yourself where it sits on the pH scale. It is not always listed on the shampoo bottle, though. If you can’t find it, move on to the next product.

You can also discuss the matter with your hairdresser because they want your hair to be as healthy as possible, especially since their professional help can mean repeat business. They will have the knowledge to steer you in the right direction for the best results for your hair type. There are also numerous DIY recipes online for a pH balanced shampoo. These are usually made with natural ingredients, like one offered by Robin Konie, which uses coconut milk and aloe vera gel with optional essential oils.

For more information on why the pH balance of your shampoo is so important, check out this video from Gemy at Studio 39.

What is the pH Balance of Shampoo Final Thoughts

While there are many decisions you must make to find the best shampoo for your hair, pH level is one of the more important aspects of a good shampoo. If you need help determining which shampoos have the right pH level for your hair type, reach out to your hair stylist for advice. If you are looking for more hair care articles check out our blog and our hair care buyer’s guides.