Hair care can be quite a balancing act. 70% of people say that they have damaged hair. Most people think that hair damage comes from aging or other factors out of their control. However, many people damage their hair using the wrong products.
You need to study pH levels to avoid damage to your locs or dreadlocks. But what exactly is pH, and what should you do if you have bad pH levels? Here are the essentials of how to achieve a pH balance.
The Basics of Hair pH
The pH scale measures how acidic an item is from 0 to 14. Substances lower than seven are acidic, while those above seven are alkaline. It is most commonly used in chemistry to measure the acidity of chemicals, minerals, metals, and other materials. However, your skin and hair are also acidic, and determining your pH balance is extremely important.
Most people have a scalp pH level of around 5.5, meaning their hair is slightly acidic. The slightly acidic nature of hair kills bacteria and fungi in your scalp, cuticles, and dread roots. Do not panic if your stem has a higher level than your scalp or the tips of your dreadlocks.
Many shampoos and hair products have alkaline cleaning agents that make hair less acidic, which can allow bacteria to grow. They can also create brittle or frizzy dreads that are impossible to manage.
However, if your hair is too acidic, your cuticles can contract. Contracted cuticles can make it hard to dye or treat your hair, even with high-quality products.
Related: How to Maintain Dreadlocks
How to Test Your pH Balance
Do not assume if your locs are frizzy that, you have a low pH level. You need to test your pH balance formally to determine if you need to raise or lower the acidity.
You can test your shampoo’s pH to determine how acidic your hair is. Many stores and online retailers sell pH testing meters, so buy one and follow the instructions for your shampoo. The meters you buy should give you the numerical level, not just whether or not the shampoo is acidic or basic.
pH strips are less accurate than meters, though they are more affordable and easier to use. Feel free to use a strip, but you may want to run two tests to know if your results are accurate.
If your shampoo has a pH level of 7 or higher, you may need to add more acid to your hair. Take a good look at your locs in the mirror and see if you notice any dullness or dryness close to your scalp. You likely have a pH imbalance if your hair doesn’t look right.
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How to Make Your Hair Acidic
Don’t panic if your hair gets less acidic. You can use natural methods to restore the acid levels and prevent frizzy locs.
Use Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera is a significant ingredient in many natural dreadlock products. It is slightly acidic and can restore moisture in your hair without harming your follicles. You can buy unprocessed aloe vera juice at a store and mist it over your locs or dreadlocks. You can also moisten a comb with it and run it through your hair to remove frizz.
Apply Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is less common in loc and dreadlock products than aloe vera. But it is another naturally occurring substance that is slightly acidic and does not damage your dreadlocks. Mix a few spoonfuls of it with water in a spray bottle and then apply a light amount to your hair. It can have a strong odor, so if the smell is too pungent, you can mix in more water or stir in aloe vera juice or jojoba oil.
Eat Acidic Foods
Acid can travel from the foods you eat into your scalp and hair. Acidic foods include berries and yogurt; you can make a yogurt parfait for breakfast or a berry salad with an apple cider vinaigrette. Alkaline foods include many meats and dairy products, so, switch to a vegetarian and vegan diet to balance your pH.
Purchase a pH-Balanced Shampoo
Most shampoos are alkaline, meaning that they make your hair less acidic. But you can find a pH-balanced product that will restore your natural levels.
Some pH-balanced shampoos contain apple cider vinegar in them, but you can also select shampoos with coconut oil, avocado, and aloe vera. Look for products specifically for locs or dreadlocks, as you need natural ingredients that won’t damage or untangle your locs.
Be gentle when applying your shampoo if you already have damage. Apply small amounts and melt the shampoo in your hands before applying it to your locs in sections. You can leave the shampoo to soak through your locs and remove residue. Do not wash your dreadlocks too often, as you may remove oils that help keep your hair moist and full.
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How to Raise the pH Levels
You rarely, if ever, need to raise the pH levels of your hair. You’ll only need to raise the level if you use too many acids or have undergone hair care treatments like straightening.
Stop using any acids immediately. Purchase a deep conditioner to replenish your hair at the roots, and then purchase bottles of coconut and olive oil. Pour two tablespoons of coconut oil into a bowl, then add one tablespoon of olive oil and combine the two. Dip your fingertips into the bowl and massage your dreadlocks gently.
Apply your deep conditioner or oil mixture for a few days. If you don’t notice any improvements, visit a loctician or hair care professional immediately. Ask for suggestions about dreadlock shampoos that can raise your pH levels slightly.Related: Everything You Need to Know About Dreadlock Shampoos