pH (potential hydrogen)
is a unit of measurement that indicates whether a substance is
acidic, neutral or alkaline.
As a beauty professional, you need to understand pH and its effects on hair, skin, and scalp. This means knowing which products have high or low pH and why. Only solutions containing water and/or which dissolve in water can have an acidic or alkaline nature. A solution is acidic or alkaline depending on the number of positive hydroxide ions or negative hydrogen ions it contains (an ion is an atom that has gained or lost electrons). If a solution has more positive hydrogen ions that negative hydroxide ions, it is acidic. If it has more negative hydroxide ions, it is alkaline. When a solution has an equal number of hydrogen and hydroxide ions, it is neutral.
The pH Measurement Scale ranges from 0 to 14
The Number 7 is Neutral
Numbers less than seven indicate acid while numbers greater that seven indicate alkaline. The scale is Logarithmic, which means each step or number increases by multiples of 10. ph 6 is 10 times more acidic than neutral 7; however 6 is 10 times less acidic than 5, which falls in the range of the average pH of hair, skin, and scalp. So, when you are using products that are pH 6 or “only one number” away from the average pH of hair it is actually 10 times less acidic. That is a big difference, For example, have you ever peeled an orange and as the juice from the orange came in contact with your skin, you felt a slight tingle? The pH of an orange is approximately 2, which is only 3 steps away from the pH of your skin (4.5 – 5.5) but in reality it is almost 1,000 times more acidic than your skin.
pH balanced and acid balanced are two terms that are sometimes confused in the beauty industry. pH balanced means the pH is balanced at a certain number, but not necessarily at 4.5 to 5.5 (average pH range of hair, skin, and scalp)
Acid balanced means just that, balanced within the acid range of 4.5 to 5.5. Acid balanced is the term applied to most professional shampoos and conditioners. Your task as a professional is to use products that will help maintain the acid balance or the hair and skin at the 4.5 to 5.5 acid range level.
Understanding pH measurements and values will greatly assist your ability to keep the hair, skin and scalp in the best condition possible. Reading labels correctly, selecting the right products for clients and recommending products for home skin and hair care will also be based on a good understanding of pH values.