What to Look For in a Natural Shampoo and Conditioner

Shampoo and conditioner is one of those personal care products that can be riddled with toxic ingredients that are harmful to the environment, hair, scalp, and skin. Those who have stopped using conventional shampoo and conditioners often swing as far as using only water to “cleanse” their hair or use cold process soap bars to cleanse their hair. Both of these options can actually be harmful to the hair but let’s look at why.

Background info:

The “Potential of Hydrogen (pH) is one of the most important yet underrated factors to consider in hair care. It influences the strand’s texture, appearance, absorbance capabilities, and curl shape. More specifically, the pH of hair products has a direct effect on the hair cuticle.
p= potential/power and H= Hydrogen
The pH scale goes from 0 – 14. Looking at it from left to right, 0 through 6 is the acidic side, 7 is neutral, and 8 through 14 is the alkaline spectrum of the scale.” (8)

The Scalp and Hair:

“Your scalp has a protective layer of oil called sebum. Sebum is the body’s defensive layer to protect your scalp. Shampoo (or rather detergent) is such a “great’’ cleanser that it strips this away. This sends signals to your scalp that its defensive layer has been removed and it then goes into overdrive trying to get it back. This can lead to overproduction of oils (oily scalp) and the inability to make up for the loss (dryness). As a result, your hair feels brittle, dry, and rough.” (1)
The scalp has a pH level of 5.5 and healthy hair has a pH level of 4.5-5.5. Both of these numbers are on the acidic side. Maintaining a healthy pH level is important for hair and scalp health. At this level, the hair cuticle is closed which helps it retain moisture and prevent breakage. Many hair products, such as colorants, bleach, and relaxers, change the pH level of the hair, thus affecting the health of the hair.

Some people have tried quitting shampoo altogether using only water for better hair health. This often does not last long as the hair becomes oily and unmanageable. Along with the scalp starting to itch and some people even say their hair begins to smell. Using only water can be hard on hair also due to the pH level again. “Water in its natural state (hard water) is at the PH level of 7.6. And Softened water is at the PH level of 6.5.” (3) While softened water is closer to the correct pH level it has unnatural mineral levels. Hard water contains minerals that may build up on the hair shaft. Considering all these things, using only water to cleanse the scalp and hair is not sufficient or healthy. But don’t forget that hair and scalp are greatly impacted by diet and overall health. If you aren’t eating healthy and are always stressed then your hair will show signs of that no matter what hair product or lack of products you use.

Conventional Shampoo:

Consumer Reports shares that: “When your hair is oily, you cleanse it with a shampoo, which whisks away grease and buildup but takes away your scalp’s natural oils along with it. Your scalp is now squeaky-clean (which really just means it’s dried out), and begins to overcompensate for the lack of oil by producing even more, Yadav says. So you cleanse it again with shampoo in an effort to get rid of the excess oil, and the process repeats.” (2)
Conventional soap and shampoo often have stripping agents ranging from being highly alkaline (cold process bar soap) to harsh surfactants in bottled shampoo. Bottled shampoo can be pH balanced but most bottles aren’t transparent enough to share what their pH level is, they contain a lot of water and preservatives and are packaged in plastic which adds to the plastic crisis we are facing.

This graph by Quicksilverhair shows how pH levels and hair products affect the hair, scalp, and skin:


Virgin hair has a pH of 5.5 but hair that is colored can have a pH of around 8.5-9.2 Therefore, it’s important to balance your hair’s pH after coloring. (6)
Many hair product companies recommend using their conditioner after the pH level of the hair has been raised by the shampoo. Though this helps repair the hair, the damage has already been done by stripping the hair and raising the pH level while shampooing. “Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist based in New York, says the no-poo method can help improve your hair’s bounce. She says harmful ingredients like detergents are often added to shampoos to cleanse, but they can end up drying out your hair and leaving it looking flat.” (5)

pH Balanced Shampoo

“If you have color-treated hair, it’s important to have the correct pH in your shampoo so that you can keep the cuticle closed and maintain your color without stripping it out too quickly. This will also help keep your hair looking shiny, glossy, and healthy, as opposed to a dull and processed look. And, a pH-balanced shampoo will help prevent dry hair. For color-treated hair, be sure to avoid using a shampoo with a pH above 5.5 as this will open the cuticle and cause your color to fade much quicker. Besides keeping your color alive longer, pH balanced shampoo can help manage issues such as frizz and prevent tangling. And, an acidic pH of 4.5-5.5 is key to preventing excessive dryness and hair damage.” (7)

Another tip for maintaining color of color-treated hair is to wash with warm water and end with cool water to help close the hair cuticle and retain moisture and color. Or use cool water for the entire wash due to warm water’s ability to wash away the color.

For many, reducing the amount of washing can improve hair health but many occupations are of the nature that frequently washing the whole body including the hair is the best option available. For people in those occupations, choosing the most gentle and supportive shampoo is essential to maintaining and having good scalp and hair health.

Things to Consider:

Essential oils can be very supportive to the scalp and hair health. An example of this is there are two main reasons why dandruff occurs. One is the scalp has not been sufficiently exfoliated so when washing your hair, stimulate your scalp with your fingers or even better use a scalp massager. You can find a beautiful and environmentally friendly one on our website at: https://dandelionnaturals.com/product/bamboo-stimulating-scalp-massager/

The second reason dandruff occurs is associated with fungus. Essential oils that are effective against mold and fungus are clove, lemon, lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, tea tree, and lavender. Essential oils have even more benefits than just being antifungal; they are also supportive for hair growth.

Where to Find pH Balanced Shampoo and Conditioner Bars:

Dandelion Naturals has crafted 4 different shampoo and conditioner bars using gentle and nourishing ingredients and are scented with essential oils and thus are supportive for those seeking support for hair growth and dandruff. The 4 shampoo and conditioner bars available are Rosemary and Peppermint, Cedarwood and Sage, Lemongrass, and Tea Tree and Lavender. Each of the bars is water-free, plastic-free, paraben-free, pH-balanced, and color-safe. Since our bars are eco-friendly and concentrated, one bar can replace 2 or more conventional shampoo/conditioner bottles without all of the plastic waste.
You can find these bars and more on our website at: https://dandelionnaturals.com/product-category/shampoo-conditioner-bars/


https://therighthairstyles.com/no-poo-method/ (1)

https://www.consumerreports.org/health/personal-care/no-poo-hair-care-a3112258874/ (2) (5)

https://quicksilverhair.com/ultimate-guide-to-ph-balance-for-hair/ (3) (4)

https://naturtintusa.com/blogs/hair-care/ph-balanced-shampoo (6) (7)

https://www.thehairroutine.com/blogs/journal/ph-levels (8)

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