Shampoo and Cuticle Damage

Monday, September 28, 2009

Did You Know?

Shampooing can be very damaging to your hair. According to Dr. Ali Syed, a shampoo with a pH level higher than 5.5 will cause an imbalance in the pH level of the hair and "rough- up" the cuticle layer. It will also strip the hair of it's natural oils. A stripped, rough cuticle layer sets the stage for combing and styling damage.

The cuticle layer, which tightly binds the fibers of the cortex layer and accounts for much of the hair's strength, can be dissolved by shampoo detergents to some extent. High pH detergents and products break down the cuticle layers of the hair shaft, therefore, exposing the hair cortex (hence a damaged weakened hair shaft). Coconut oil has a high affinity for the proteins in the hair, meaning it's great for preventing protein loss (cuticle chipping, damaging/abrasion due to washing and wet combing). Once you apply it to your hair, it prevents the constant swelling and shrinking which means less stress on the hair shaft.

Tips from Dr. Ali Syed:

• Cleanse only with high-quality conditioning/ detangling shampoos, formulated especially for excessively curly hair. Make sure that the pH of the shampoo is properly balanced, within the range of 4.5 and 5.56.5. Avoid harsh detergent formulas (those in the alkyl sulfates group, such as sodium lauryl sulfate) that strip the hair of its natural oils.

• While shampooing, try not to tangle the hair. Massage the shampoo into a rich lather throughout the hair and scalp, using the pads of your finger tips, not your fingernails. Be sure to rinse the hair thoroughly to remove all traces of shampoo.


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  1. That is really helpful. I have never really known what to look for and not look for in a shampoo. I just bought the Creme of Nature Detangling Shampoo and used it today and I was pleased. I also just wanted to say that I just joined this group and I happened to stumble upon while doing a search for something. I am sure glad I did because all the tips and advise that I have picked up within the last week have been VERY helpful. I look forward to learning more and sharing things that I find out as well. Thanks!

  2. I dont get it. First she said "a shampoo with a pH level higher than 5.5 will cause an imbalance in the pH level of the hair and "rough- up" the cuticle layer"

    and then she gives the tips to use a shampoo with "within the range of 5.5 and 6.5"

    Shoudn't you then be using a shampoo with a ph lower then 5.5?

  3. A higher pH means something more acidic. More acidic pH's are lower numbers i.e 5.0, 4.5, 4.0 etc. These pH levels are higher because they are MORE acidic. pH range of 5.5-6.5 are more basic and therefore less damaging to the hair. HTH

  4. where on the shampoo bottle does it have the ph level?

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  6. Ladies, I'm a Cosmetologist in training. When talking about the pH scale you need to know:
    1. The scale is from 0-14 pH
    2. 0-6.9 pH is considered ACID
    3. 7.0 is Neutral like WATER
    4. 7.1 - 14 is considered ALKALINE

    Your hair is in the range of 4.5-5.5 pH so you should use a shampoo close to your hair pH, so a shampoo within the Acid range is good to use, and anything above 7.0 pH is a NO NO! Unless you are removing product build up from off the hair.

    Professional shampoo are the way to go to ensure the pH is within your hair range or acid range.

    On KeraCare it states its pH on the front of the bottle (usually pH of 6) and on Biolage it states it on the back.

    IMPORTANT: it is okay to use a product with high amount of Alkaline such as clarifying shampoo to remove build up on the hair then follow with your acidic shampoo to bring the hair back around its normal pH balance.

    EXAMPLE: Relaxers have a pH from 9-14 (alkaline range) and you use a Neutralizer shampoo to bring it back within the acid range(0-6.9).

  7. Thank you for responding!

    @ Natasha A - Your welcome hun! The Creme of Nature Detangling shampoo is lovely isn't it?!

    @ Anonymous - These are a few tips straight from Dr Ali Syed. Just to put it simple, your shampoo should be in the range of 4.5-6.5. Elasta QP Creme Conditioning Shampoo has a pH of 4.5-5.5 which is perfect for the hair.

    @ Reece - Thanks for clarifying.

    @ Lois3 - It should say it right on the label or near the ingredients portion.

    @ Waynenett- That's right!!

  8. I'm sorry ladies, but i have 5 shampoos in front of me and i do not see it on any one of them, i have: Hair one(for colored treated hair), Creme of Nature(ultra moisturizing shampoo),Creme of Nature (regular formula), Silicon mix (shampoo hidratante), and Nu-Grow shampoo. so if it's not listed should i be looking for a particular ingredient?