Hair and pH (Part 2)

by Erick Carter

Let’s review from the last issue. Hair is protein. Chemicals adversely affect this protein. To color hair we need to get to the inner layer of hair.

The goal is to use a higher pH which is more alkaline than acid.

Logically then we must look for a quality product that will do the color job without hurting the hair. Let’s go on from there–Permanent hair colors are usually alkaline based.

A higher pH is needed to reach the cortex layer of the hair to change its color. The higher pH (which can be 9-11 on the pH scale) is used to lift the cuticle layer of the hair in order to penetrate the cortex.

The catalyst used to achieve this higher pH is usually ammonia which is helped out by an activator, hydrogen peroxide*.

Ammonia free colors use another product, monoethanolamide, but the same high pH is achieved. After a color service, your hair can feel fuller because the cuticle layer is inflated by the pH.

Cheaper volumizing shampoos have a higher pH to inflate the cuticle creating temporary volume. This sneaky trick hurts the cuticle by exposing the cortical layer of the hair, causing irreversible damage. The only cure is avpair of scissors.

Previously colored hair has already been exposed to this higher level of pH. And so, it is logical not to use the higher pH of permanent hair color to refresh the ends.

Next month, we will discuss different ways to refresh faded ends while avoiding overexposure to high pH.*

Peroxide in hair color is used to deliver oxygen, pH of 20 volume peroxide 6% peroxide and 94%water, is about 4.9.

Erick CarterI would like to invite all readers to write in your questions. You can do so by email at or call me at 239.777.2380

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