Formulate for a Lower pH in your DIY Conditioners



I received a question at facebook asking about the pH of DIY recipes.  If you didn’t already know, pH plays an important role in hair care products, particularly the ones we leave in our hair after washing and conditioning.

For leave-in conditioners/moisturizers, I try to make sure I formulate to ensure the pH is 4.5 – 5 (and sometimes 4). Try to stay in that pH sweet spot of 4 – 5.5. This is because lower pH conditioners (positive charge) love the negative charge of hair.

The simplest way you can adequately check the pH of a formula is with pH strips, which can get expensive depending on your supplier and how many DIY projects you create in a month.  

Earlier in my DIY testing, I went through a 100-pack of pH strips quickly because I would test the pH after each single time I add a pH lowering ingredient to a mix…. for each mix.  And sometimes that’s 2 or 3 times for 4 – 7 different mixes a week….each with slightly different ingredients… AND different pH lowering agents.

Some people don’t have the time or energy (or disposable income) for all that! I can understand.  

To those DIYers, I suggest you build it into your recipe to help ensure the pH is or remains as low as possible to be effective for your hair.

That means integrating ingredients known to have a lower pH is important.  Probably the three quickest and most readily available ingredients for lowering the pH is Aloe Vera, Citric Acid and powdered Pectin.

Other ingredients to help lower the pH includes herbs that are high in tannins or high in Vitamin C.  High tannin teas (herbal infusions) usually have a bitter or very sharp taste if you drink them without sugar.  Think Hibiscus.  Herbs high in Vitamin C include Rosehips.  A nice mix of Hibiscus and Rosehips are great!


In addition, there may be ingredients which serve a different purpose which also helps to lower the pH.

For example, Neodefend  is a natural preservative which has the side-effect of dropping the pH of anything its in.  They caution it causes a “pH drift downwards” at, but that’s a good thing depending on what you’re creating.

If you see a recipe at which calls for Citric Acid, Aloe Vera juice, Neodefend OR an astringent tea (Hibiscus, Lemon Balm,etc), I’m ALSO using it to keep the pH as low as possible along with trying to integrate some of its positive effects.

NOTE: BTW, I don’t post every recipe I’ve experimented with, only the ones that’s work well and that I like. (If I post 1 recipe I really like, I may have tested out 4 variations that week and posted the best one)

So try to build a lower pH into the formula of your diy mixes to ensure it will help your cuticles lay down smoothly, and to help with shine!


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