Senior Press Pass Correspondent
In the last article on cleansing, I expounded on why the length, thickness and porosity of hair, need to be taken into consideration in order to clean the hair efficiently and minimise breakage. Today, however, I would be focusing on how important pH balance is in choosing a shampoo or cleanser and how frequently the hair should be washed. When all these factors are incorporated into your hair regimen and mindset, you would better be able to reap the benefits of having what is considered ‘healthy’ hair. pH balance and Hair Cleansing Products - When choosing a shampoo, there are a few factors that must be considered. These factors include pH balance of the hair and shampoo and also what these shampoos contain. The term pH is used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The ‘p’ stands for potential and the ‘H’ stands for hydrogen. On the pH scale of zero to 14, seven is neutral. Distilled water has a pH of seven while hair has a pH of about five. Ideally when cleansing your hair, you want to use a shampoo or cleanser with a pH that is close to the pH of your hair. The wrong pH in your shampoo or cleanser can strip your hair of its natural oils and dry it out more. So what shampoo/cleanser should I use? - Considering that you would want to get a shampoo or cleanser close to the pH of your hair, which doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils, sulfate-free shampoos are recommended. Sulfates are harsh detergents that vary in terms of their stripping power. Most shampoo formulae contain sulfates to lift product residues from the hair and scalp. Hair, especially textured hair, however, rarely responds well to large amounts of sulfate-based ingredients in cleansing formulae. Sulfate shampoos literally strip the hair, removing not only undesirable product buildup but also the desirable natural oils that textured hair needs to remain supple.
These harsh detergents can strip textured hair of its vital moisture balance and cause the hair and scalp to feel dry and rough. Cleansing formulae containing sulfates can also strip hair that is not textured, of its natural oils but textured hair is more vulnerable to this as it dries out faster than straight hair. Sulfates and surfactants can also lower the moisturising capabilities of shampoo. How often should I wash my hair? - Different people may have different preferences. The frequency of washing the hair is also based on a person’s hair type and lifestyle. For example, if you have extremely thick, coarse hair, you may shy away from washing it too often. On the other hand, if your hair is easily manageable and straight, you may wash it every day or three times a week. Or there may be those who exercise regularly and also prefer to wash their hair about three times a week. However, based on my readings and research, washing the hair once, every week is sufficient for hair to thrive. Clean hair does not contain product buildup or dust which can contribute to a stench in the hair and even breakage. But as I said previously, it all depends on the person. You have to experiment and see what works for you. I’ve said this previously but I’m saying it again. You can’t expect to see positive results with your hair if you don’t have the patience and discipline to take care of it. Afro-textured hair in particular is the most difficult type of hair to grow long as every bend and curl in the hair strand is a weak point. So I implore you to take the points put forward thus far, in the hair care series, and put it into action, if you would like to see your hair grow to maximum lengths. You are not the only one concerned about growing long, ‘healthy’ hair. So be encouraged, be patient and grow it!