Saturday, April 14, 2012

A few thoughts for the day: Cleansing conditioners & pH of our bodies

I've been seeing these Wen Cleansing Conditioner ads on the TV quite regularly, and it seems like you've been seeing them, too. So here are a few posts I've written on this topic...

Duplicating products: Cleansing conditioners
How does the no-shampoo concept work? (This is where I analyze the Wen Cleansing Conditioner. My conclusion: They are no more cleansing than any conditioner you might find in the drug store, but they certainly cost a lot more!)

As for the pH of our body parts, I really need to make this point in bold - you cannot be so out of whack that your skin is alkaline when it is supposed to be acidic. Something like this is very dangerous and can lead to serious skin problems! I can't say this strongly enough. If you have a friend who says things like "My skin is alkaline", she probably has a very serious medical condition or she is wrong.

From this paper on PubMed: Today, the term "normal skin pH" is understood to be the pH value of the surface of the skin of the lower arm of a healthy adult male Caucasian. Its mean value lies in the range 5.4-5.9. In most cases, it is determined by means of a flat glass electrode. The parameter "skin pH" depends mainly on the area of skin and on age, but it also depends to a lesser extent on sex, race and the time of day when values are determined.

As a note, your hair can be anywhere between pH 3.5 and 6.5-ish. For your blood, acidosis is said to occur when arterial pH falls below 7.35, while its counterpart (alkalosis) occurs at a pH over 7.45. Here we see what is a tiny change - only 0.10 pH units - and it can lead to serious health badness!

An aside...Going from something like 5.9 to 8 is a massive change. The pH scale is like the earthquake measuring scale. "An earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger and corresponds to an energy release of √1000 ≈ 31.6 times greater than one that measures 4.0." (Wikipedia) It's a logarithmic scale, which means that going from 1.0 to 2.0 isn't just an additional 1, it's about the power to 10 to something. 10 to the power of 1 is 10 whereas 10 to the power of 2 is 100. That's a huge difference. 10 to the power of 3 is a thousand - that's massive. So to say your skin should be 5.4 to 5.9 but you think it's over 8 means that you're going from 10 to the power of 5 (100,000) to 10 to the power of 8 (100,000,000). As a note, my multiples of 10 don't have a meaning when it comes to pH - I'm using it as an example of how large a change we see when we use the pH scale.

I'm really not sure how people come to the conclusion that they have alkaline hair or skin, but I hear about it often enough that there must be someone out there somewhere offering testing or information on how to test yourself somehow. You cannot have alkaline skin or hair. It isn't possible. If you have alkaline skin or hair, can you please share where you obtained this information? I'm really curious!

I think I'm going to write a longer post on this topic...I've found such interesting papers on the topic! Look for more to come shortly. 

Related posts:


Jo said...

Hi Oracle aka Swift!
1st let me join your legions of fans in regards to your blog and commitment to cosmetic knowledge. And to think you do all this by listening to Iron Maiden. Wow.
OK OK onto my musings.... this PH thing is kinda getting me confused (not hard but thats another story). Doesn't the PH of your water supply have a massive affect on the efficacy of any products you have to use with H2O? I have combination skin that is acne prone, when it likes, is reactive when it likes and has slight hyperpigmentation that I am working on. I live in South London UK (big-up!(although I'm way too old for that foolishness) it is hard hard water with lots of chemicals in. I can not use my mum's handmade superfatted soaps on my skin here but can when on holiday, and trying to find a facial cleanser that rinses has proved annoying. To the point that I mix up my own oil for OCM(40% Castor 60% Melon Seed oils with <1% EO)
However I have been staying in the West Country for the Easter Hols and my face and the skin on my body have become smooth, hydrated and fantastic! Back in London now and back to the same PH 8.5 water. I didn't test the water down there as I didn't have my PH sticks. So can I make my formulations to take this in consideration? ie make them PH balanced with the lower end of the PH scale for healthy skin to overcome the water issue? A new water filtration system on the house is a no no right now.
Necessity is the mother of invention and is the reason for my foray into home formulations... 1st was a 200g leave in conditioner (PH 5) tweaked from your basic recipe, got a way to go but made a huge difference to hair. Next creation will be a tweaked cuticle 'n' nail balm as all 20 nails are snappy. no intention to sale only share with my mum and family members who can't sue and have the same issues as me.
Thanks Jo x

Jo said...

OK I have read about acid-base titration in one of your posts..... So in regards to the body washes then the amount I use is small compared to the water I use in the shower. So the wash can not compensate for the high PH of the water?
I would have to consider the product that I actually leave on my skin afterwards.... leave on body oil, butter or cream? A bit like the principle of ACV rinse for the hair? Have I just answered my own questions? I leave you all now.

Jo said...

Lol, after even more researching I am thinking chelating additives for the metals in the water supply.... Have you tried Phytic Acid in place of EDTA?

BTW I now get how addicted you get after the first creation. I am obsessed with reading ingredients lists and now sound like my nan when we go out of food "I can make that better for cheaper"....

Heather Wall said...

I know this is a bit late..but ph is something im very interested in skin care products. Mainly because anything alkaline irritates my skin.. And a lot of products are alkaline, especially those deemed "natural" . There is a big boom in the natural foods industry about alkalizing your body. A lot of this creates a hysteria that " everything must be alkaline now!" So they drink alkaline water, eat tons of alkaline foods, etc. Most people have no idea that your skin is not supposed to be alkaline at all. They just hear that alkaline is the way to go and go crazy with it. So of course most of these people end up with horrible dry skin and yeast infections from going too alkaline.. Sorry for the mini rant. That could be why your friend and a lot of people think their hair and skin are alkaline.