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Hair Products Chemistry:

pH and Protein

Hair Products Chemistry

An understanding of  hair products chemistry will greatly enhance your credibility with your clients as well as make your finished style picture perfect. We welcome any input you may offer to make this site the top professional site in the world.  

pH's  (see H-Bonds) 
Let's start with pH. Firstly, dry hair has no pH. Only aqueous solutions have pH's. When hair is in an aqueous solution it normally has a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 the skin does too. One of the most beneficial treatments hair can have is to be acidified. pH's of 3.0 to 3.5 will not only close the cuticle but more importantly compact it. This: 
1) Adds natural shine -  (light reflects off a smooth surface) 
2) Detangles - Cuticle layer can not "grab" each other.  
3) Adds elasticity - The lower the pH, it higher the positive charge. This in turn brings hydrogen bonds from a beta state (weak) to and alpha state (strong). Hydrogen bonds account for nearly 100% of the hair's elasticity. 
4) Locks in moisture and protein - A compacted cuticle will not allow evaporation or dissociation as much as an open cuticle. 

Contrary to belief, most shampoos has a pH lower than 7.0 (neutral). The key is to bring the pH down much lower. pH's lower than 3.0 can have adverse effects during prolonged use. Example: lemon juice has a pH of ~2.5.  

Acidifiers will benefit all hair types. No client should leave a salon without one. Clients with baby fine hair will love the benefits as well as thick porous hair clients. Here is a short list of acidifiers (we do not endorse any of these-they are reference only): 

1) Sunset Hair Elements Hair Repair (pH 3.5)

Protein Weights  
Everyone wants to claim the best shampoo, conditioner, rinse...., etc.. 
Many companies will base their claims on molecular weights. Here are some guidelines. 

1) High mol. weights are not necessarily bad. In many cases they 
are the best. 
2) Low mol. weights are not necessarily the best. In many cases 
they are. 
3) Generally and combination of high and low weights are the best. 

Here is why the above is true. 
Let's take soy protein conditioner. It has a high weight (one of the highest). It helps the cuticle immensely. 

Some companies by-pass protein and use synthetics (mostly polymers)(the hair is a polymer too), they have tremendous weights. They do work to the hair that proteins simply can't. 

In our opinion a combination of weights is the best. Also, many proteins have advantages regardless of size. Wheat protein won't break down at pH's up to 9.0! It tends to "plump" the hair too. A side note to the "no animal" protein folks. Hydrolyzed animal protein is fine. It comes from hoof, feathers, skins, etc., from the meat industry. It makes no difference if you choose not to use it. If you don't, it will be thrown away (no less will be "produced".)