Fight the Fade! Prolong Hair Color With the Power of pH

pH value is between 0 and 14, a pH value of 7.0 is considered neutral; all values below neutral are acidic and all values above are alkaline. An acidic solution has a positive electrical charge (+), and an alkaline solution has a negative electrical charge (-).

 

Healthy Hair Vs. Damaged Hair

Normal, healthy hair has a pH value of between 4.5 and 5.5 and is therefore considered acidic. Hair in this state will be positively charged (+) and has a compact cuticle structure. The outside cuticle layer is closed and smooth, promoting a natural, healthy shine. The internal cortex is protected, and moisture levels are maintained, ensuring good strength and elasticity. Healthy hair has even, normal porosity and provides a good base for chemical services.

 

Damaged hair has a pH value above 7.0 and is negatively charged (-). The cuticle layer is raised with a dull/matt surface. The raised cuticle layer can catch, resulting in tangled hair with a high susceptibility to mechanical damage – caused by combing or other external influences. In addition, the cortex will be exposed to further damage, in danger of losing essential moisture and becoming dry or brittle. Damaged hair will be very porous and provides a poor surface for chemical treatments, with potentially uneven results.

 

pH and Products

As the majority of hair products are a solution, and therefore have a pH value, it follows that this can influence the condition of hair.

 

Chemical treatments, such as a lightener, perm or color, are deliberately alkaline, or have a pH value higher than the hair’s natural value. This causes the cuticle layer to open up, allowing the product to enter the inner hair structure. It is therefore essential to thoroughly rinse the hair following a chemical process and apply a good re-structuring conditioner.

 

Whereas, care products are predominantly acidic, and have an astringent effect on the hair, closing the cuticle layer. Shampoos will typically have a pH value close to the hair’s natural level, promoting gentle cleansing. Conditioners and treatments however, have a higher acid value, helping to return damaged, hair back to a normal, healthy condition.

 

When hair is colored, the pH increases from an optimum value of 4.5 – making it more alkaline and during color development, the outer and inner hair structure is loosened up in order for color pigments to penetrate the hair. For this reason a conditioner or treatment after a color service helps to reset the hair to the optimum pH value of 4.5.