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There’s been a lot of talk lately about which ingredients you should avoid putting on your head, and your body for that matter. We’re talking about the chemicals lurking in beauty products, but before we even begin to open that Pandora ’s Box let’s talk just shampoo.    From avoiding ones with silicone, to making sure there aren’t any sulfates in your cleanser, there are a ton of things to look for to make sure your hair is its healthiest.

To be clear, we’re not in the “chemicals are bad” camp. We just know that certain ones can have adverse effects on certain hair types and textures, and it’s important to know what’s in your shampoo and how those ingredients may affect you. But, that’s not the only thing you need to know. The first element that should be on your radar is the pH level of your shampoo.

The more you know, people!shampoo 2

Aside from keeping it far, far away from the Bunsen burner, chances are your hair wasn’t exactly top of mind in science class. But it turns out that even if you aren’t a product developer, there’s an overlap in your lessons and caring for your locks. Shampoo has a pH level—and it can seriously impact the health and appearance of your hair.

In terms of hair health, the sweet spot for your scalp and strands is around a 4-4.5. Yes, you read that correctly. The optimal pH level for your hair is on the more acidic end of the spectrum. Who knew? And that’s the ideal pH level for your shampoo, too. “If shampoo is neutral at 7 or higher, it’s too alkaline,” “It will strip the hair and even conditioner will never be moisturizing enough to replenish it.”  Mind blowing right.

Get the level right, and you’ll reap the benefits almost immediately. “The actual structure of the cuticle of one strand of hair looks like tiles on a roof.” “When you use a shampoo that is too alkaline, those tiles are lifted which leads to loss of elasticity, breakage, dullness, and the dreaded frizz. However, if your shampoo is more acidic it works to smooth those tiles of the cuticle.” As in, your hair will be less frizzy, softer, way more manageable and produce a beautiful shine, win win right?

“By protecting the cuticle structure with acidic pH, you’re arming your hair with the protection it needs so that the external factors that lead to frizz can no longer penetrate,”  and  you’ll find less need for silicone-based serums and smoothing agents.”