Friday, September 2, 2022

Why Does My Hair Cling Together When Wet, But Not When Dry?

You know how your hair tends to be less frizzy and more "together" and agreeable when it is wet, and then when it dries, all that friendly togetherness vanishes!? 

It's not all friendly togetherness, there is... tension. (Oh, the drama)!

In elementary school or on wherever you get your science educational fun - maybe you floated thread or paper clips on the surface of a glass of water. Same thing.

Behold, a dry paintbrush, and the same brush when wetted. Nothing was added to the brush other than tap water.

Dry paintbrush, in all its fluffy
This happens (in part) because of surface tension between the water molecules in your hair. Water molecules tend to be attracted to each other, and can behave almost as a film (think of insects that move on the surface of water leaving little saucer-shaped "dents" in the water with their legs).
Another part is cohesion - the water is attracted to the surface of the hair and that attraction also creates something like a temporary film.

That tension and cohesion vanishes with the water, because it was an effect of the water.

There are a few things you can learn from this to help you understand how to manage hair as it dries!

1) Hair is usually more clingy when wet, the more water is attracted to it. Water is more strongly attracted to porous hair (heat-styled, highlighted, permed, relaxed, permanently dyed), but also to hair with some conditioner in it (or used on it). Clingy wet hair can be a good thing 
Wet paintbrush, this is the
same brush

because you can rely on the way that wet hair (and the temporary hydrogen bond-formation that occurs when wet hair dries) dries in the shape it was set while wet, to dry more clinging-together. If that's something you want. 

2) Hair is less attracted to water when it is low porosity, or when it has product residue (styling products, excess oils). 

3) Hair might be less likely to stick together if it is quite coarse (relatively large in diameter), dehydrated, tangly or damaged. That's a flexibility issue, and it's difficult for water alone to pull the hairs together.

Apply this:

- If your hair tends to frizz as it dries, that can be managed by:

- Reducing the other charge-interactions going on (use a rinse-out or leave-in conditioner or styling cream. This also reduces friction and static. I'm pretty sure you already knew that.

- Use a styling product that creates a longer-lasting film (gel, mousse) - I'm 99% certain you already knew that too. πŸ˜€ 

- Reduce friction. Reducing friction can reduce volume - so if volume is your goal, then reduce friction only where you don't want frizz or extra fluffiness. Water is overcoming the tendency of friction in our hair to spread it out (create frizz), while wet - the water's actions can be stronger than friction's. Reducing friction with emollients (oils, shine serums, styling creams) can help your hairs stay together longer.

- Do something during styling that presses hairs together, with more or less tension depending on your hair's tolerance and your desired result. A comb, brush, or your fingers pressed together, for example. Just like you would squeeze the bristles of the paintbrush to form it neatly before drying.

- If your hair doesn't like to stick together when wet:

- A clarifying shampoo or a hard water shampoo might help if product residue or hard water residue is the problem.

- Using conditioner and working it into the bulk of your hair may help to improve flexibility. Think of how you have to work "wet" ingredients into dry ingredients when baking. It takes some physical effort. Hair is not entirely different, it is helpful to squeeze, squish, press, comb conditioner (and water) into hair for good mixing and coverage.

- A deep conditioning, oil treatment or protein treatment might be what your hair needs to feel its most flexible. I repeat - this is about flexibility! Hydration and flexibility go together. These address both, depending on your hair and your choice of treatment.

- Do something during styling that presses hairs together, with more or less tension depending on your hair's tolerance and your desired result. A comb, brush, or your fingers pressed together, for example. Just like you would squeeze the bristles of the paintbrush to form it neatly before drying.

- Some hair naturally doesn't cling together when wet. Coily hair (Type 4), textured hair (kinking hair) or very coarse, medullated hair can fall into this category. This isn't a by-product of product residue, it's a feature of the hair itself. A few paragraphs up friction was mentioned. 

- If your hair doesn't like to cling together when wet (and with conditioner in it), and that isn't a result of product residue or hard water, then you might need to introduce a little friction or "grip" to your hair. Ingredients like shea butter or cocoa butter, modified starches, plant gums (acacia, xanthan, guar), and clays are examples of ingredients that add some grip to hairs so they can cling better when wet. Look for those in a conditioner or pre-washing treatment.



Sunday, June 19, 2022

Oil Pre-Wash Treatments: Let's make them easier.

This is a tip on my Low Porosity post. It applies to lots of us! For example:

  • If oils seem to sit on top of your hair (whether you think it's high or low porosity or somewhere in between).
  • If you have "wiry" silver-white hairs.
  • If you have a curl or coil pattern that needs added flexibility (but you find oil treatments difficult).
  • If deep conditioner (after washing) seems like a great idea, but just weighs your hair down.

Oil treatments are hard to do because some of us don't need much oil. So how do you spread it around? How to avoid using too much? 

Here's the trick:

Mix a small drop of oil with a larger amount of conditioner.
That's it!

Rub the mixture together briskly in your palms - it will take an opaque-ish appearance and creamy texture. Then apply to the ends and top layer of your hair, any areas that need extra flexibility.

Bonus tip:

Left: A drop of conditioner.
Right: A smaller drop of sunflower oil.
Mix and enjoy!
If you have a very inflexible section of hair (like often happens at the temples or crown), try dampening it slightly before applying an oil pre-wash treatment like this. In the last few years, I've sprouted some silver hairs even more wiry than my usual color. The "damp oil treatment" keeps them better-behaved.


The oil usually mixes well into conditioner. The conditioner + oil mixture is easier to spread because you've diluted the oil - it has a better chance of spreading farther. It's also easier to see the conditioner + oil mixture in your hands so you know how much is there.

The conditioner adds some other ingredients to your treatment as well. Softening thickeners like Cetyl alcohol, humectants like Panthenol or glycerin in the water-based conditioner lend a little of their goodness to the treatment.

I know this is really basic, but for all of us busy people who want to do a quick hair treatment, but are very distracted or short on patience (which is all of us at any given moment, right?), this can be the difference between writing off oil treatments because they're too hard to do, and using them to keep hair flexible and manage porosity.

Use a conditioner and an oil you know and love. I like sunflower oil for its ability to penetrate hair, but only because it's the oil that works consistently well for me. 

Linking to some other posts about:

Comments: I have been able to read comments and post the non-spam ones. Currently I'm having difficulty responding. I will continue to work on that. Thank you for reading and best wishes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Upcoming Post-Updates, More "things I learned."

 It has been a long while since I posted! 

Trying to figure out what to do with a blog in an era of beautifully-produced and entertaining vlogs, YouTube channels and Instagram, and my own constant distractions.

I have been updating some posts and lists and will continue to do that - slowly. 

Much of what I've learned will be rolled into those existing-post-updates.  A recurring issue I encountered doing hair analysis was frustration. People get frustrated with their hair, sure. But it's more stressful when compounded with external pressure. I felt people being pulled in so many directions. Being pressured to spend money in a way that might not be sustainable, or use products that we don't like the feel of, spend more time than we want or reasonably can, to address criticism about their hair, to be somebody else's definition of beautiful or "right" or perfect. Even "beauty-positive" movements feel like they can trigger negative emotions. 

I have become a fan of "body neutrality" as a result. Anything (wellness-promoting) that puts some distance between physical appearance and our emotions is fine with me. 

It's a positive, affirming process to have a problem you'd like to solve, and once you work that out, you can build on that and move on with your business. It's entirely another thing when you're trying to adapt to strict sets of rules, and new problems result from that - leaving us feeling we have few options. Or if each time we have some success, it's minimized in our minds because perfection has not been achieved. It’s always a red flag when issues are framed in strict terms of “good vs. bad.” That’s not leaving enough room for practical compromise. 

We bring our whole selves into this hair-thing. Our problem-solving skills, our emotions, self-perception and confidence, our attitude towards beauty and status and all the good and bad things people have told us. We absorb a lot of attitudes that don't belong to us! A lot of information is out there already. So when we have a problem, or if we feel bad about our hair, we look for others who have solved it already. Smart! 

Never forget - hair is extremely variable. Our expectations are variable. Our water supply is variable. Our climates differ. Our budgets and lifestyle are unique to us. Our reaction to marketing, especially when we're feeling vulnerable is variable.

We all enjoy marketing in one form or another. A nice-looking bottle, clever names for products, feel-good or clever advertising, educational material, a signature fragrance, attachment to a salon or social media influencer or celebrity, something that makes us feel good about a brand or a method. My hope is that people can see the marketing and not forget that it's there to trigger your emotions and sway your choices. 

When you feel strongly compelled to use a product or a brand or technique, when your emotions are intensely triggered - that’s a warning to proceed mindfully. It’s great if you can take from any method (product, brand) what works and discard what doesn’t. Lots of people do that. The problem is when we try to use an "all-in" mindset for haircare that isn't suited to us.  If we double-down on a method or product and try harder when something isn't working without backing up to see where (or why) things went wrong, we're not making progress. Going "all-in" can be a great strategy, but with something as “arts and crafts-y” as hair, it won’t go easily unless you can do it with a good dose of emotional detachment, or you have a good coach (hairstylist, etc.) 

I also felt there is a great deal of pressure to make hair care into a holistic, self-defining or self-love metaphor. Part of your personal "brand?" And if we disavow ourselves from the “bad old ways” and adopt new ones, we’ll all have hair that we love, easy peasy! We fall into this thinking so easily, in so many areas of life "I need to change everything I'm doing because something isn't right." A complete overhaul seems more likely to produce results than targeted repairs in our daily lives.

But like with car repairs, targeted repairs usually make more sense. 

Communication is a big part of the problem with hair-care - we do not have shared words for so many of the things we're trying to describe. So everybody has to figure out how to turn their perceptions into words - words which somebody else might misinterpret. 

Bless you if you've read this far! My main points are these:

  • Don't make perfection a goal, pick one thing you like (that can be achieved reliably) and capitalize on that. Build out from there.
  • Respect your budget and your lifestyle. Shamelessly. 
  • Consistently good results are often more satisfying goal than occasional spectacular results. 
  • Change only one thing at a time when possible! "Change" includes haircuts! It can take a few washes to understand the effect of any change.
  • Never ignore red flags: new scalp/skin, ear, neck, upper back irritation or itching, break-outs, rashes, peeling, hair shedding/loss, new tangling or breakage, change in "manageability". All those things are communication. Please, listen. Skin irritation can lead to fragile hair and hair loss. Changes in tangling or breakage can indicate a problem-product you may need to avoid.
  • Always modify things (products, techniques, methods) to suit your needs. Nobody knows you better than you.
  • Have a backup plan. New problems? Go back to whatever tried-and-true things you used in the past. Hit "reset." Problem-solve from there.
  • TRUST YOURSELF. First and foremost. If somebody - anybody (your friends, your family, your hairstylist, media, marketing) pressures you to do or buy something that doesn't feel right, remember who is in charge. You're in charge. 

I'll be back next week with a pre-shampoo treatment idea for hair that is tricky to do pre-shampoo treatments to. :)

Friday, June 18, 2021

What I learned from 5+ years of hair analysis

 I did hair physical analysis for 5 years, handling somewhere around 500 analyses. It mirrored my work with plants, soils and microscopy - I know that sounds strange, but there are similar physical and chemical things going on. I may have waded too deeply into the weeds for some folks, but I tried to provide a useful result. I want to share some useful things I learned with you. One at a time, blogging can be time-intensive, so I'm easing back in, in small "bites." Meaning: This post will have sequels. 

What I learned that you can use

1) Every person's hair is different. This isn't some trite little feel-good saying. It's reality. As a scientist, I could be accused of tending to see infinite variation vs. being one of those people who wants to force everything into a neat little box with a label on it. But I appreciate diversity in nature and find usefulness in seeing it.

One day I had two hair samples with very similar measurements and yet they were very different in ways that measurement of things like width, elasticity etc. simply don't account for. That day was the perfect example of how there are always aspects of a system we're not measuring that can be very important - but they're harder to grasp. They're harder to describe. They're the sum of multiple physical properties.

Human hair is a protein-based substance. Those proteins are made from a "recipe" that is stored in your DNA. Your unique DNA. Even identical twins don't have exactly the same DNA, thanks to edits made to our genetic code (DNA) as we go through life. 

When you consider your hair, think of it like your personality. Your personality it not the same as somebody else's. It may be similar, but it's not the same. You can pick up useful things from other people, but you always need to translate that into something that works for your hair. And your budget, your climate, your lifestyle, etc. 

Take home message: Don't judge your hair. Don't compare it to others (except to the extent that might be useful). If something works for somebody else, and not for you, you might not be doing something wrong. It may not be right for your hair. Don't try to force your hair into a "box" it doesn't belong in. Just because somebody says "this works for curly hair" or "this is perfect for X or Y hairstyle," doesn't mean it will work for everybody. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on products or time styling your hair - or if you enjoy trying new things and find hairstyling enjoyable - own it and proceed with that in mind. I always appreciated when people took the time to tell me these things about themselves.

I'm not suggesting we "love our unique hair" because I think that's a pretty big ask for many of us. I'm recommending we pay attention to and have empathy for not only our hair, but our budgets, and our lifestyle. If we're looking to videos, vloggers, Instagram, for advice - take those things into consideration too. Consider role models who match our situation and our goals rather than or in addition to those who already have our ideal hair. Because that "ideal hair" is part genetics, part climate, tap water, etc. and only part styling technique and products. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sulfate-Free Shampoos: Part 1

Hi All!

This series is brought to you by virtue of my developing a sensitivity to the shampoo I'd used for about 9 years. I "DIY" my shampoo, so let's learn together. This isn't so much a lesson in "the science of detergents." This is going to be related to the way they work in a product and how that translates into your experience. "Surfactant" is a technical term for detergent and I tend to use them interchangeably. Here, I'll call them detergents.

Sulfate-free shampoos have some advantages and disadvantages. There are many characteristics of ingredients that contribute to the experience of using a product, and our perception of the product. This goes beyond the simple question of "whether sulfates are harsh or not."

The first thing I want to mention is concentration and foam. They are very much related. For every positive, there is a negative. That's life, right!? πŸ˜€

In order to have a nice foam, a product that lathers up right away, bubble size isn't too large nor too small and dense, one often needs a higher concentration of the sulfate-free detergents than traditional sulfate detergents (Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium laureth sulfate, Ammonium lauryl sulfate, Sodium laureth sulfate).

The only sulfate-free detergent that lathers well for me alone at low(ish) concentrations are the Glucosides (Decyl glucoside, Lauryl glucoside). And while the glucoside-detergent molecules are too large to penetrate hair and skin and therefore mild to skin, they can still lead to dryness because they de-grease (form micelles) at relative low concentrations - thus the foam!.  That makes it a mild, but still potentially oil-stripping detergent. Oh, the irony! You'll often see this detergent combined with others for it's foam-boosting power, and for added mildness to skin. (Seriously, don't avoid this ingredient, it was my favorite for my picky skin for years. It's an excellent ingredient for mild shampoos).

Other sulfate-free detergents foam less on their own, but help thicken a product or add mildness to skin (such as Cocamidopropyl betaine, Sodium sulfosuccinate, Sodium cocoyl isethionate).

Product formulators need to do more detergent-combining to find a product that will achieve a nice sensory experience - because nobody likes wimpy foam that disappears immediately. But we also want it to rinse out quickly and easily. With sulfate detergents, detergent-combining tends to be more straight-forward. Add 1 detergent for mildness, maybe another for foaming and you're done.

If you're creating a "boutique" shampoo for a specific audience, you have more flexibility in the end product. So you can use the (more expensive) sulfate-free detergents because we assume you're going to charge more, and also to manage people's expectations as part of the "brand." But if you're going for a broader market, you need to meet a wide variety of expectations. That probably means more detergent.

Detergent concentration has a lot to do with irritancy and oil-removal. A higher concentration of mild detergents can sometimes be as irritating or as oil-stripping as a lesser concentration of sulfate detergents. A lot depends on other ingredients in the formula.

Take-home message: Combining detergents is the key to great shampoos! 

Up next: More topics in sulfate-free shampoo:

Thickening, conditioning, skin irritation, hard water interactions, mildness-creation for hair and skin, that tangly squeaky-clean feeling.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Oils - Some Thoughts for Troubleshooting

Hi all! I wanted to pop in and highlight some issues with oils. Oils can be a challenge - lots of us feel like maybe we should either be using them (alone or in products) or at least be able to tell whether oils are causing problems for our hair (alone or in products).


Because “oil causing problems” can look like dryness, frizz, stiffness, dullness, or even hair-breakage, we need lots of different ways of looking at the ways oils behave in their environment. By that I mean - in storage as well as in your hair.

1) Oils are at the mercy of nature, they can break down. Oils are fats - and fats can go “bad.” Under even ideal conditions, oil molecules can break down to smaller parts. Every oil is made of chains of smaller fatty acids. They can be arranged quite differently depending on the oil, and have very different properties as a result. Breaking down an oil is like smashing a Lego creation. Yes - it’s still made of Lego pieces. But the whole creation loses integrity when broken down into its constituent parts. A broken-down oil may not behave in the same way as you expect from a fresh oil.

- When exposed to air and sunlight, or air and heat, some oils are highly susceptible to oxidation, the process of oxygen attacking some of the chemical bonds in the oils. This happens if oils are stored improperly or for too long. Unsaturated or less-saturated fats are highly susceptible to oxidation; that includes most plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as olive and sunflower, flaxseed, hemp seed oils.

That breaking down process is one you’ve observed when you use an oil preservative on wood or leather. Such oil-based preservative products are applied as liquids and soak in quickly. As they dry they may become tacky (sticky and stiff) and darkened in the sun and wind. The oil’s chemical structure changes through oxidation.

Something like this might also occur in your hair - it's more likely to have occurred during storage - but that last bit of heat and/or light might be the "final straw.". Oils in hair are exposed to oxygen and sunlight - and heat if you use a hair dryer or heat styling tools. If you notice that some oils seem to change in performance within several hours of application - oxidation may be part of the cause.

A product containing 0.5% olive oil will behave differently than applying 100% olive oil to your hair. Keep that in mind as well!

- The other process occurs in the presence of water and breaks triglycerides (which are a common form of fatty acid in plants) into the fatty acids and glycerol that triglycerides are made from. In well-formulated, water-based hair products this probably won’t be an issue, but un-formulated oils (plant oils straight from the bottle) applied directly to wet hair might introduce this possibility if hair takes a long time to dry, or if you had mixed oil into a water-based product or in a water bottle with other ingredients. If you’ve noticed that oils work differently when applied to wet vs. dry hair, this might be one reason. It's more likely if you make your own products with oil like flax seed gel and notice the product’s performance changing after a while - this also might be what is happening. Store homemade gels in the freezer for good preservation. A product with a formula that does not adequately stabilize the oils may degrade or destabilize over time. That could cause odor change, color change, separation, change in product texture and performance.

Storage considerations:

If you use oils, store them in a dark, cool place or in opaque bottles. Keep air out by capping them quickly after opening, storing in a not-too-large jar. An airless pump bottle would be ideal for storing oils - especially the pricier ones - that you use regularly and want to keep at room temperature, or that go bad quickly. Keep moisture out of oils and butters too. Don’t put wet fingers into a bottle or jar of oil. Don’t store oils or butters in the shower. Less obvious (but still a problem) is condensation inside a bottle and this is more related to having your products exposed to temperature extremes, which it’s best to avoid. If you open an oil product or an oil-based product and there is moisture under the lid or cap - dry it off thoroughly before replacing the cap.

Oils less susceptible to breaking down in light, heat, and moisture: Jojoba, coconut, palm kernel, palm oil, morgina oil, sea buckthorn oil, peanut oil, butters (shea, cocoa, etc.). Squalane and Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides are cosmetic ingredients which also tend to be very shelf-stable and may have better stability. Butters like shea and cocoa and (sometimes) solid-at-room-temperature oils like coconut and babbasu are higher in saturated fats, which may resist breaking down, but they also do contain unsaturated fats, so they are not immune. 

No oil will be optimally stable if it is stored in high heat, in bright light (or sunlight), or in a poorly sealed container.

Ingredients in products which stabilize oils: Vitamin E, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), 6-ethoxy-1,2-dihydro-2,2,4-trimethylquinoline (Ethoxyquin), Propyl gallate (PG).

2) Emulsification of oils: When oils are emulsified in a product, the oil and water in the product have been treated so that they do not separate. This process is done with 1) emulsifiers (that’s a class of ingredients), 2) heat (usually) and 3) high speed mixing. Oils that are emulsified in a product may behave differently in hair than oils that are used straight from the bottle of oil. This is both a cosmetic and a texture difference! Compare this to the difference between oil-in-water salad dressing compared to creamy (emulsified) salad dressing. The difference in the way they pour, the way they cling to different vegetables or fruits, or to wet and dry surfaces. Think of how those 2 kinds of salad dressings dry on a salad bowl or a tablecloth or napkin. Sometimes the problem with oils is that we’re trying to use them alone when our hair might get along better with them when emulsified into a product.

It is so easy to over-use oils because a little oil can often treat a large surface area adequately. When they are pre-measured in a product, it’s harder to accidentally use too much. Emulsification also assures that the oil is distributed evenly - in the product and on your hair.

3) Some oils penetrate into the hair over time, some do not. More information can be found here. If you need softness or porosity-management from oils - the more-penetrating oils may be a good choice. If you need lubrication, a non-penetrating (or less-penetrating) oil may be right for your hair. Or a blend of those. Oils are complex ingredients, using the right one to its best effect can take trial and error and creativity.

4) Oils are a natural product from plants: Plants are living things growing outdoors. Different soils, different seasons, different varieties of plants can all produce slightly different products. Growers do their best to produce a reliable product - their income depends on it - but they can’t control everything. It’s normal for plant oils to have slight variation.

5) Hair is an infinitely variable medium: Your hair is a product of your genetics, your nutritional status, your scalp health, your climate, your water chemistry, your styling products and techniques, and any treatments you have used (including coloring or lightening or curl-changing). Hair is as unique as skin. As unique as personalities. There is science behind formulating hair-care products, but it’s not always certain who an oil (or a product) will work well for. Personal preferences are part of that equation. There are no absolute rules for right and wrong with oils and hair - there is only what works. Look for consistency from use to use. If you are getting oil-use and oil-choice right, it will perform in a predictable way each time you use it. That does not mean you need to use oil or an oil-right product every time you wash or style your hair unless you prefer to do so. Sometimes hair does best with variety. If we do the same thing every time we wash or style our hair - we miss opportunities to be creative or discover something new - or identify a problem.

6) Over-application: Self-explanatory, right? Think of oils as a cosmetic active ingredient - they are super-concentrated actives when undiluted. Even just a tiny bit more than you need can make hair behave strangely. Our scalps, when they are healthy, don't produce a lot of oil, and they produce a mixture of oils that are solid and liquid at body temperature. When we put more oil on our hair than nature intended, it's more likely that strange things will be going on with your hair. You've probably noticed this if your scalp has become extra-oily for any reason. For some people regarding oil use, smaller amounts of oil pack the best treatment-punch because you won't need to use lots of cleanser to remove the excess and you won't have weird side effects.

The take-home message:

For people who have a lot of difficulty with oils causing dryness or frizz, tangling or dullness, part of the problem may be oils’ stability in the presence of air, light and water - and part of your solution might be to look for more-stable oils alone or else limit oil-use to oils in products. The oil in products will usually be stabilized by other ingredients in the product.

If an oil breaks down in the bottle or on your hair, it may no longer have the behavior of the original product. So the result might not be desirable. We do not control how an oil is stored before it gets to us! You can do everything right and still have trouble with oils.

Oils are not purified ingredients, they are like complete products in themselves with not only fatty acids, but a number of other chemicals that plants employ for a variety of purposes. What works for plants doesn't always work for hair!

Why use them if they're so tricky? Because when you get oil-use right, there is nothing that softens or smooths or creates flexibility like oils.

If you’ve read this far - comments: I will try to allow comments to be posted at some point in the future. That process is going to take some time that I cannot commit to just yet.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Product pH List

This is a short-looking list but read carefully, for some brands or some lines within a brand, the pH range is for multiple products. Some brands are not forthcoming with their pH range, either by direct request or looking through safety data sheets.

pH is given in a range because it may vary from batch to batch or product to product, though the pH needs to be in a specific range in most cases in order for preservatives to be effective and the product to be stable on the shelf.

Hair is at its least vulnerable between about pH 4.5 and 6.5. Outside that range, it is more vulnerable to damage. Lower pH products don't necessarily force cuticles to "close" - for some people the opposite can happen - hair-swelling in very-low pH can cause cuticles to pop up. It's likely safe to keep products in this range if you have delicate, breakage-prone or damaged hair.

ProductpH Range
Alterna Bamboo Smooth anti-frizz shampoo6-6.5
Alterna Bamboo Smooth anti-frizz conditioner3 - 4.5
Aussie Instant Freeze Gel7.5-8.5
Aussie Mega Moist Conditioner: 5.3-6.7
Aussie Mega Moist Shampoo5.3-6.7
Castile soap (liquid, un-diluted, such as Dr. Bronners)8.9-10
Design Essentials Honey Crème Moisture Retention Super Detangling Conditioning Shampoo5.8-6.6
Clay, bentonite mixed with distilled water~8
Clay, rhassoul, mixed with distilled water6.5-7.5
Design Essentials Kukui & Coconut Hydrating Conditioner5.8-6.6
Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoos4 to 6
Herbal Essences Conditioner: Hello Hydration3.5 to 6.5
Herbal Essences Conditioner: Long Term Relationship3.5 to 6.5
Herbal Essences Mousses5.5 - 6.5
Herbal Essences Set Me Up Gel7.5-8.5
Homemade Flax Seed Gel (made with distilled water)5.3
LA Looks Mega Mega Hold Styling Gel5 to 6
LA Looks Sport 5 to 6
Lemon juice (undiluted) ~2
Long Hair Don't Care products5.5 to 6.5
Shea Moisture Brand Products (this is the range they provide for their products)5 to 6.8
Soultanicals (All products except Master Hair Cleanse)5.5 to 6.5
Suave Conditioners - all Variations5.2
Tresemme Conditioners (All varieties)5
V05 Extra Body4 to 5
Vinegar (undiluted)2-3