Monday, September 15, 2014

pH and conditioners

I've had quite a few of you write to ask why I don't adjust the pH of my conditioner recipes, and the answer is simple - we don't need to adjust the pH because it's in the range we want. Conditioners should be acidic with a pH below 6. All the ingredients we add to a conditioner - Incroquat BTMS-50, cetrimonium chloride, hydrolyzed proteins, cationic polymers, hydrosols, and so on - have pH levels at 7 or lower, with most below 6. When we combine these ingredients together with water, we'll have a product with a pH below 6 or an acidic product.

Why do we want acidic hair care products? Because our hair has an acidic pH. The more virgin your hair - meaning the less you've dyed, straightened, permed, or relaxed it chemically - the more acidic it is with really virgin hair registering around 3.7.

An aside: This is one of the reasons you don't want to use cold process soap on your hair. It's alkaline, with a pH above 8, which our hair doesn't really like. There are some people who can use it, but the majority will find an alkaline product makes their hair feel matted, dull, and scratchy after use. 

If you really want to adjust the pH of your hair care products, please make sure you have a pH meter. I know you can get the strips, but they just aren't accurate enough and can sometimes register pH levels one or two points off! Try using 0.1% citric acid, then testing the pH, then adding 0.1% more if you want it lower. But I don't suggest lowering the pH because you really don't need to do it. The pH of our conditioners are great the way they're made!

pH meters are well worth the investment if you're someone who wants to make loads of products! (If you want to make anti-aging lotions and potions with AHAs, this is a great investment!) Here are a few you might want to consider...
Lotioncrafter (US only)
The Herbarie (US, might ship to Canada?)
Amazon (US, might ship to Canada?)
Amazon (UK)

Related posts:
How conditioners work! 
Quick summary about damaged hair
Definition of good condition
Absorption and substantivity of conditioners

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