What is pH balance and why is it important?

Personal Care

In recent times, terms like “pH balanced”, “pH restoring” in skin and hair care products are gaining more attention among users. If you are someone curious about what it means, let us simplify it for you. The term ‘pH’ refers to a property of fluids and it measures how “acidic” or “alkaline” a substance is in comparison to distilled water, which has a neutral pH of 7.0. Anything below a pH of 7.0 is considered an ‘acid’, and anything above a pH of 7.0 is considered ‘alkaline’ or ‘basic’. In simpler terms, ‘pH-balanced’ products keep the hair and skin close to their natural pH level and help maintain the optimal function. Let us go into detail and understand why maintaining optimal pH is important.

By nature, the pH of the skin and scalp is around 5.5 and the hair strands have a pH between 3.5-3.7, i.e., on the acidic side. When we talk about the pH of skin or scalp, we in fact refer to the pH of a very thin moist film barrier on top of the skin called the acid mantle. It is a protective layer made up of sweat and sebum, which protects the skin from bacteria, fungi, viruses, environmental pollutants, and keeps the skin soft and supple. Disruption of this barrier can cause adverse effects like skin irritation, rashes, dryness, sensitivity, acne, etc.

Many factors like diet, pollutants, microbes, soaps, detergents, cleansers can disrupt this acid mantle and make the skin more acidic or alkaline. Certain soaps and body washes are made of highly alkaline substances that damage the acidic film and impair the natural skin flora. Though these products can give a ‘squeaky-clean’ feel, they actually remove the natural sebum required for healthy skin function.

How can you tell if the skin is pH unbalanced? If the skin feels dry, sensitive, or flaky, it might be a sign that the skin is too alkaline. On the other hand, if the skin is inflamed, oily, or prone to breakouts, then it could be due to highly acidic pH. This usually happens when using products containing harsh chemicals or exfoliators.

As the kids and teens have delicate and sensitive skin, make sure the products you choose are gentler and have a pH close to the skin’s natural pH. To keep the skin’s barrier strong and healthy, pick body washes that have a slightly acidic pH (around 5.5) and follow it up with good moisturizing lotion. Double-check that the chosen products are free from harmful chemicals, listed in the ‘What we never use’ blog.

Coming to the hair, the hair strands are slightly acidic than the scalp, and are at their best when using slightly acidic products. Products with acidic pH help keep the hair cuticle closed and the hair feels smooth and strong; whereas using alkaline products causes the hair cuticles to remain open, which leads to dryness and frizz. Similar to skin, when the pH is imbalanced, problems like dry scalp, itchiness, frizzy hair occur. Shampoos containing sulfates usually tend to be too alkaline, and therefore too harsh for the scalp and hair.

Choose shampoos and conditioners with low pH, which gently cleanses the hair, keeps the cuticles closed and frizz-free. Kids with curly hair need more care as they already have partially open cuticles that cause the hair to dry out more easily. 

Understanding how pH levels affect the hair and skin is vital to keep it healthy, strong, and balanced. Though some factors cannot be controlled, the skin and hair care products that we choose should not add to the damaging effect. Tikitoro’s range of products formulated with gentle, safe ingredients are ‘pH-balanced’ to protect the delicate skin and hair of kids, tweens and teens.

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