Why Your Shampoo Habits Could Be to Blame–Part 1

The world of shampoo is vast and exhilarating! Well, maybe not. But good, bad, or indifferent, today’s task is to jump into the proverbial lake of surfactants!

How often should I shampoo?
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions in the salon. The general response? As seldom as you can possibly get away with! Some clients feel self-conscious or dirty when they follow this advice, but there’s no reason you have to tell your friends that you haven’t shampooed since the Reagan administration. No one has to know; it’ll be our little secret.

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But seriously, overzealous shampooing can take its toll on your hair texture, especially if you don’t have the right shampoo. And here’s why. Except for the properly balanced shampoos, all most shampoos are designed to remove the dirt and oil from your hair. Yes, that’s a good thing–to a degree. We certainly don’t want all that stuff building up. However, some of those oils are what help give your hair a natural shine. If you constantly strip that away, you may be limiting your hair’s ability to shine and look healthy.

The exception here would be if you know for certain that you have the right shampoo. This entails having something that is pH balanced (which you really can only confirm by seeing a range on the shampoo bottle or by testing it yourself), and it also entails having a shampoo that’s the right balance of protein and moisture. That balance varies for everyone and is something you determine through trial and error of different products. If you have both the pH and the correct moisture/protein balance, it would be safe for you to shampoo more often.

And now let’s talk color
But first, we need to expand further upon some high school chemistry briefly mentioned in the previous sectioin. Remember our good buddy called pH? Yeah, that’s actually super important with hair, skin, and nails. If you recall, the scale is from 0-14. Seven is right in the middle and therefore is neutral. It’s also generally accepted to be the pH of water. Anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 7 is alkaline. Any guesses as to what the pH of hair and skin is? It’s actually not at all neutral! Instead, the range is 4.5 to 5.5–rather acidic.

So what does all this have to do with your shampoo? From what I’ve seen, I would say that most shampoos are well over the pH of hair. As I mentioned before, the only ways to confirm are to test yourself or to read the bottle. Seeing “pH balanced” doesn’t really mean much; I only trust a product if a specific pH range is printed on it. Otherwise, that pH could be “balanced” to just about anything.

But anyway, when an alkaline substance comes in contact with your hair, the outer layer of the hair shaft (the cuticle) begins to open. When your stylist did your color, he or she opened the cuticle, deposited color, and then closed the cuticle. Keeping your color safe and happy inside the hair shaft. When alkaline shampoo opens the cuticle, your color runs right down the drain. This is why pH is so important when it comes to protecting the color investment you made.

This is a real page-turner, right? Sadly, that’s all for today! Check back for the continuation of our talk when we cover more shampoo stuff and address the supersonic world of conditioners.

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