Shampoo pH

My hair stylist told me to use low pH shampoo. I went to the drugstore and looked at shampoo bottles. They weren't very helpful. Many shampoo bottles have what I thought was coded language for neutral pH: balanced, neutral, blah, blah, blah. Ever since then, I've been interested in actually determining the pH levels of shampoos. I bought pH testing strips and now I'm going to finally set about my little science fair project.

What is pH? I had to look it up, so if you'd like to read all about it, see the pH article on Wikipedia. Basically (ha ha ha . . . a pun already!), pH measures the activity of hydrogen ions. Which translates into acidity vs. alkalinity. Alkaline is another word for basic, chemically speaking. Pure water has a pH level of 7 at room-ish temperature. More than 7 is basic or alkaline; less than 7 is acidic. So we're looking for acidic shampoo, although I have a feeling, or shall I say hypothesis, that we want the shampoo to be just a little bit acidic.

If you're reading this, you must be at least slightly interested in shampoo chemistry. While I was doing research on this topic, I came across this interesting article, about the chemicals in shampoo. For example, did you know that baby shampoo doesn't sting babies' eyes because it contains a numbing agent? Fascinating!

Disclaimer! Dang it. I did my first testing, with Hydrion pH testing strips. Immediately, I began to doubt my results. With the exception of the Head & Shoulders (white), the CVS Naturals (clear), and the Chi (just a tad yellowish), all of these shampoos are dyed. Does that affect the results? I need to do some research on how to test pH. Is my testing methodology valid? I need to figure it out, and then possibly change my protocol.

On 4/15/14, my second round of testing occurred. I borrowed a pH testing meter from a high school chemistry teacher and tested the shampoos below. I don't feel comfortable about the two outliers. And finally, I bought a meter for myself, for the second round. Here's how they tested:

ShampoopH 4/15/14pH 1/2/2016Comments
Alberto VO5 Moisture Milks
Strawberries and Cream Moisturizing Shampoo
5.15.3
Chi Organics
Olive Nutrient Therapy Shampoo
5.3n/a
Dove Advanced Hair Series
Oxygen Moisture Shampoo
n/a6.4
Garnier Fructis
Fall Fight Shampoo For Falling Breaking Hair
4.94.7
Garnier Fructis
Sleek and Shine Shampoo
n/a5.0
Giovanni Colorflage Shampoo
Beautifully Blonde
6.0n/a
Giovanni Tea Tree
Triple Treat Shampoo
n/a5.7
Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil
2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner
n/a6.7
Head & Shoulders
Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo
7.4n/aOutlier -- re-test.
Herbal Essences
Honey, I'm Strong Strengthening Hair Shampoo
5.9n/a
Herbal Essences
Touchably Smooth Straightening Shampoo
6.0n/a
John Frieda
Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
3.13.0Outlier on both tests.
Mineral Fusion
Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
5.35.0
Nature's Gate
Biotin Strengthening Shampoo
5.9n/a
Suave Naturals Shampoo
Daily Clarifying
5.35.0
Up & Up (Target)
Dandruff Everyday Clean Shampoo
6.0n/a

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