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
Chi Organics
Olive Nutrient Therapy Shampoo
Dove Advanced Hair Series
Oxygen Moisture Shampoo
Garnier Fructis
Fall Fight Shampoo For Falling Breaking Hair
Garnier Fructis
Sleek and Shine Shampoo
Giovanni Colorflage Shampoo
Beautifully Blonde
Giovanni Tea Tree
Triple Treat Shampoo
Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil
2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo + Conditioner
Head & Shoulders
Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo
7.4n/aOutlier -- re-test.
Herbal Essences
Honey, I'm Strong Strengthening Hair Shampoo
Herbal Essences
Touchably Smooth Straightening Shampoo
John Frieda
Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
3.13.0Outlier on both tests.
Mineral Fusion
Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Nature's Gate
Biotin Strengthening Shampoo
Suave Naturals Shampoo
Daily Clarifying
Up & Up (Target)
Dandruff Everyday Clean Shampoo

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