My Poor Little Injured Isabella…

Okay, so…she’s not really injured anymore. Well sorta – she is a LOT better but I am certainly going to baby her this week.  After my last post, Joe Parker, one of the owners of Cush Cosmetics, reached out to me via Facebook with more advice that I wanted to share with you all. Joe is super helpful and certainly knows about the chemistry of hair. This is what he told me about the reaction – and it gives more detail to the issue (and is still easy to understand):

For low pH, you seal the hair. If it is extremely low pH you are swelling the hair in some cases above 100% of normal volume. On the molecular level, you are reorienting the hydrogen bonding(reversible process) The net results are limp and tangled hair. At low pH, the cuticle is sealed then becomes raised due to the extreme swelling, hair becomes frizzy and limp due to disorientation of the (alpha) keratin protein structure.

For high pH, you are opening the cuticles. On the molecular level, you are breaking the disulfide bonds (irreversible process). The net result before conditioning is limp and tangled hair.

In this case, water is your friend. You have to re-orient the double bonds in your hair. Cream based DC are good.

This certainly makes sense to me. Today after I rinsed my DC, I used Oyin Hair Dew, Aloe Vera Gel, and a bit of my Knotty Girl Leave-In. All water based products, and my hair turned out pretty good! Here’s my baby…she will be getting the royal treatment all week…and…I’m going to Whole Foods right now to return some products I just bought. Sorry, but I’m a little over trying new things at the moment!

Talk to you all later and thanks Joe!

11 comments

  1. Ok I need a little clarification, low ph levels are anything under 7 and high ph levels are anything over 7? I’m asking because I have recently tried a product that instantly made my hair feel weird. I clarified and put on conditioner and it still felt that way. After reading this I tested the product and the PH was 8. My hair hasn’t felt right since so I was trying to make sure that I was understanding this correctly so I would know what steps to take. Thanks!

    1. I would not use the words low and high but anything under 7 is acidic and over 7 is alkaline. But a product can be slightly acidic/alkaline.

  2. How do you know what your hair pH level is and what changes it? Is your hair at normal pH when it’s naked? Does the pH raise with water? Am I good if I use only products that are pH balanced for my hair or am I okay if the average pH level of all the products I put in my hair=4.5-5.5. as you can see I am having trouble understanding how this works. Help if you can!

    1. You can’t really tell what the pH of your hair is, but normal pH of hair is around 5. Your hair is not always at a normal pH when it’s naked – it depends on what you have used on it previously. Washing out a product won’t automatically normalize your hair’s pH (like if you had a relaxer, even after you wash out the relaxer your cuticle is VERY raised and your hair’s pH is off, that’s why you have to use a neutralizing shampoo). Using very acidic or basic products will change the pH of your hair, either lifting or closing your cuticle (however, there isn’t much change in the hair with a pH between 4 and 9). The pH of water is 7, so that doesn’t do much as it’s pretty neutral (however, you can also buy alkaline water). Products with a pH of 4.5-5.5 are usually fine. You just need to pay attention to how your hair is acting – when people use a lot of products with a high pH, their cuticle gets lifted and the hair can dry out because it’s easier for the moisture to escape.

  3. izzy is looking good, and thanks for the info. took a couple times to read and understand but i got it. lets you know the importance of checking the ph of new products!

  4. Ok, I’ve read this about 3-4 times and I’m so confused. I get what you and Joe mean, but this has definitely confused me and my hair that much more:-(. I just really started to understand my “hair type, texture and what I should and should not use. Now yall go throw some “Ph” up in the mix? *le sigh*. Where does Joe live b/c my hair needs to pay him a visit. So a question that’s swirling around in my head, How do I find out the Ph of my hair? Within the past few weeks, I’ve started using products that are glycerin free. B/c my scalp has been a Hot Itchy Mess! and I read that glycerin can be drying to your hair and colored treated hair. However I’ve still been battling a normal twist out. What is normal you ask??? A twist set that doesn’t involve FIZZ. EVERY single time I co-wash and twist my hair(which is once a week) It ALWAYS becomes frizzy:-( no matter what I use, don’t use, twist it differently, sit under the dryer, don’t sit under the dryer…you get my drift. I get the same results. (Maybe that’s what I’ll call my hair…Frizzy, Elle you have Izzy and I def. got Frizzy, lol.) Anywho I rambling, does Joe have a contact? I need a one on one with him. Thanks!

    1. The normal pH of hair is around 5, but you can test products with pH strips. You don’t really test the pH of your hair. Glycerin will only dry your hair out if you are using it in a low dew point – it is a humectant, which either draws moisture from or give moisture to the air. When the dew is low, the air is dry, and the glycerin allows the moisture to be pulled from your hair. The email for Cush Cosmetics is info@cushcosmetics.com. If your twist out is frizzy, it may be because your aren’t using a product with enough hold, or you are separating the twists too much.

  5. I just bought some Alaffia prods @ Whole Foods…I think I will wait to use them till u reveal the culprit(s)

  6. i still haven’t begun using ph strips but this may be my wake up call to start… Izzy is beautiful to me as always!

  7. Wow, this was very interesting. I guess I should start using my pH strips more ofter, especially with new products.
    I once had a very similar experience with a shampoo and it was a very scary ride.

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