Our salon sees many African American men and women. Since hair weaves, relaxing and extensions are very popular in the African American community the fact that we specialize in thinning and damaged hair, people of color come to us for help and solutions.
With our African American women, the question about how often you should wash your hair comes up almost every time. I know that the texture of African American hair is coarse and curly which is naturally dry, so washing your hair too often can dry it out. However, I believe the culprit is the shampoo and conditioner used, not the frequency of the wash and conditioning.
Hear me out, your hair’s pH balance plays a vital role in hair health and hair growth. pH is the measurement of how acidic or alkaline a substance is, it is measured on a scale from 0-14. Substances between 0-6.9 are acidic, 7 is neutral and 7.1-14 is alkaline. Human hair has a pH 3.67 and the scalp, scalp oils and sebum have a pH balance of 5.5.
In general, African-American hair requires the utmost care because of its curly, course texture. This hair type is prone to dryness and breakage. Having curly hair means the cuticle is already partially open. In general, the curlier the hair texture the less moisture its strand hold. For curlier textures, the hair’s natural oils do not move down the super curly strands, with African American hair the hair is so course oils can’t lubricate the full length the hair strand. As a result, the hair becomes dry and brittle and breaks easily making it necessary to use a pH balanced shampoo and conditioner.
To compound the problem, many African American women relax and/or dye their hair which throws off the pH balance. Anything that throws off your pH balance will affect your hair’s ability to retain its strength and behavior. Relaxing and/or dyeing your hair is first treated with a highly alkali substance to expose and change the hair’s cuticle, then it was neutralized with a highly acidic substance to flatten the cuticle again. This is a damaging process. To keep your strands in good shape slightly acidic hair products are needed to keep the hair cuticle lying flat and minimizing the frizz and brittleness, meaning a shampoo that is pH balanced to 4.0 to 6.0.
Your hair and scalp will pick up dirt from the environment and if you use product it will pick up more dirt and grime. Even if you don’t use a lot of oils or use oils daily, your hair is still getting dirty. African American hair needs moisture, including moisture from water. So it stands to reason that people of color should wash their hair more often.
Stay away from shampoos that are too alkaline meaning anything with a pH higher than 6.0 because will strip the natural oils and sebum and may increase friction and cause frizz, hair breakage, tangling and lead to hair loss. Keeping your hair and scalp at its natural acidity will promote healthy hair growth, leaves the cuticle closed and prevent bacteria and fungi on the scalp. Also stay away from shampoos that contain petroleum or drying sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate, in order to grow healthy hair, you need a clean scalp. Washing your more frequently with the right pH balanced shampoo daily then conditioning is the best routine to ensure your hair holds moisture and maintains its natural sebum. Sebum is your hairs natural conditioner that gives your hair moisture. Moisture is vital to the health of African American hair.
Pay close attention to your current hair products and read the labels. If they do not have the pH balance on the label, then they should be tested If your shampoo is more than 6.0 pH stop using it.
If you are looking for the right pH balanced shampoo for African American hair, reach out to Images International at 248.540.0900.