The Science of Beauty: Chem 101
Bill Nye loves it, your honors chem. teacher loves it, your pool guy can’t get enough of it, and it is about time you jump on the bandwagon of people who have a passion for pH. Why for the love of Sephora should any beauty addict care about some obscure scientific scale measuring the amount of hydrogen atoms a product is composed of?
The answer to this, and most serious beauty questions, is until one understands the relationship between the pH of hair, skin, and nails to the pH of products, you’re blindly navigating the cosmetics department. So, here’s a quickie chem. lesson:
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 representing neutral, distilled water. Numbers below 7 are acidic, numbers above 7 are alkaline.
The integumentary system (fancy-shmancy medical term for hair, skin, and nails) lands somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5 acidic pH.
Acidic substances cause hair and skin cells to harden and contract, meaning the outer layer of your hair lies flat, and the pores of your skin close (toner is a perfect example of acidic reaction of skin).
Alkaline substances have the opposite effect, resulting in open pores and an open hair shaft.
So, why should you care about pH and beauty?
If you want to remove blackheads, you’ll need an alkaline face wash to open pores. If you’re scrounging the kitchen, baking soda mixed with water is alkaline enough to do the trick.
If you’ve just used a box of haircolor, but don’t want your new luster to fade in the first few shampoos, you have to consider pH—your hair was a 5.5 when you started, the haircolor was a 9, so shampoo with some lemon juice (a 3) to help bring the pH back to normal.
It may sound crazy and scientific, but once you befriend the pH scale, not only do you start to understand how your body reacts to certain products, but you can better determine your beautification needs.
Peace. Love. and Bobby Pins.