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To play devil's advocate on the pH-testing rage...

thenimblelife22

Active Member
So, I know that pH testing is all the rage now since the debut of Kimmaytube's phenomenal video on pH balance and it's role in haircare. I enjoyed that video just as much as the next person, but I gotta say I'm a little perplexed at the extremes people have gone to when it comes to evaluating products based on their pH. I felt compelled to write this post to (1) see if anyone felt the same as I did and (2) get clarification or correction if I'm wrong.

Basically, I find myself now at odds with this whole movement for several reasons. Firstly, I believe that pH as it relates to hair care is not being evaluated in it's proper context. I am open to criticism on this so I really welcome you all to correct me at any time, but I'm wondering why pH is being touted as the premier characteristic in determining whether or not a product is "good" for the hair?

As The Natural Haven pointed out per the two scientific studies she sited on her blog,

"1. Hair does not absorb noticeable amounts of acid or base between pH 4-10 ( J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 393-405, 1981)

2. The cuticle separation distance is within the same range between pH 4 -9 (J Invest Dermatol 105: pp96-99, 1995)"

For that reason, I feel like Kimmaytube was a bit off in a few of her claims in her videos, particularly her declaration that one should not put any products on their hair with a pH higher than 7.0 because it puts too much stress on the cuticles of the hair. She likened the use of baking soda to the use of a mild relaxer (!!!) simply because the two fell into "the same" pH range (baking soda at about 8 and the mild relaxer at about 10-11). Now please don't mistake me for a baking soda proponent because I'm not, and I don't believe it's the best for our hair. That said, someone has to call attention to the fact that baking soda and lye relaxers are two very, very different chemical compounds. Firstly, baking soda is only mildly alkaline (not very alkaline as stated in the video) as it registers generally around 8, which is only one off from water, which is neutral at 7 (i.e. scientifically, you don't measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance by it's distance from hair. You measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance based on it's distance from water, which it neutral. Hair itself is acidic in comparison to water, so it's be misleading to say that something with a pH of 8 is very alkaline in comparison). Baking soda even has neutralizing properties, which is why most people keep a box in their fridge to neutralize odors. Wikipedia describes baking soda's neutralizing properties as:

"Many laboratories keep a bottle of sodium bicarbonate powder within easy reach, because sodium bicarbonate is amphoteric, reacting with acids and bases. Furthermore, as it is relatively innocuous in most situations, there is no harm in using excess sodium bicarbonate. Lastly, sodium bicarbonate powder may be used to smother a small fire."

Relaxers of all types are generally very alkaline at pH's of 11-14 (14 is the most alkaline), but even if there was one with a pH of 8 like baking soda, the pH is not the main reason why the relaxer is so damaging to the hair—the chemical composition is! Relaxers are ammonium and hydroxide based substances that literally corrode away the hair's cystine bonds! The chemical composition of Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, does no such thing, even if you could find a relaxer mild enough to match it's pH.

The above point brings me to the main concern I have with everyone running out and testing all of their products—we're focusing more on the pH of our products than we are on the actual composition of our products, when it's the later that affects our hair the most, good or bad. That's not to say that pH isn't important, because it's definitely good to know, but to my understanding at least (again, please correct me if I'm wrong) pH—unless it's an extreme pH on either side of the spectrum, of course—should not be the sole focus. I was really sad to see comments all over kimmaytube's page from viewers who were saying "I had a remedy that I was using for years and it worked great but now that I know it's a pH of 8, I'm going to throw it out and never use it again!" I'm like, if it works for you, and we can already determine that the hair cuticle won't be distressed at a pH between 4 and 9, why would you stop using it?

Secondly, this whole ordeal raised a red flag for me because it seemed to throw out centuries of positive testimonials from women of all cultures over one arbitrary characteristic. Instead of saying, "Hmm, the pH's of AVC, lemon juice, castille soap, etc, seem to be different than the pH of hair, but these items have traditionally worked for all types of women throughout the ages. Perhaps there's another factor in play," the case was made that ALL these women were wrong and that all these products must be barred from usage forever or diluted to infinitesimal amounts. Essentially then, no one knew what they were doing with their hair before the advent of modern science in pH testing methods and today's commercially produced hair products.

Again, I didn't write all this to be controversial or to be difficult, but the way all of this pH stuff has played out has been very distressing to me. No one's arguing that Dr. Bronner's is strong (I switched two a different brand of castille soap because it was to strong even for my body) or that baking soda might have a drying effect on the hair. I totally acknowledge all of that. All I'm saying is that there are specific characteristics about what's in both of those products that make them have the effect they do, rather than just their pHs.

Just in case anyone wants to know, I am not a scientist or anything like that, but I studied for 3 years as a chemical engineering major in college before switching to business, so I'm referencing a lot of what I can remember from organic chemistry and what I've found elsewhere. I could go on about inconsistencies I perceived from the videos (What baking soda is made out of, Paula Begoun's take on pH and it's effect on hair, needing an acidifier after contact with water, etc) but I guess I'll stop here. I can't stress enough how much I love Kimmaytube and how much I really appreciate her videos. This was the only one that I felt very opposed to the information she presented, but I didn't want to write to her because I know she feels very strongly about her position, to say the least. I do believe that she put a lot of research in to this, I just think some of her conclusions and statements are to be questioned. I just question the whole premise of pH being the end all be all in hair care. But I posted this here to encourage discussion and evaluation of both my and kimmaytube's claims.
 

LaFemmeNaturelle

Well-Known Member
Great post....you know how folks get when they learn something new lol I'm sure the craze will die down soon!

I don't have much to say other than I know I won't bebuying litmus paper to test hair products lol I had my fair share of acid/base chemistry and it's about time to leave that behind (graduating in December whoop whoop) lol
 

Alisha08

Well-Known Member
I havent seen any of the kimmaytube videos so I dont have a strong opinion on the subject. However, I just wanted to let you know that I thought your post was very informative and well written and I'll be waiting for the responses.
 

Yoshi3329

Well-Known Member
This was the only one that I felt very opposed to the information she presented, but I didn't want to write to her because I know she feels very strongly about her position, to say the least. I do believe that she put a lot of research in to this, I just think some of her conclusions and statements are to be questioned. I just question the whole premise of pH being the end all be all in hair care.

I've been saying this for the friggn' longest! Thank you! :clapping:

@ Bolded You can say that again.:look: I hear she blocks anyone that disagrees. Respectively.
 

Myjourney2009

Ready to be APL
Well written. I only tested products out of curiosity, not to stop using them or to adjust all of them. I only adjust the leave-ins that I have because of my dyed ends, they seem to tame the ends better. I also notice when doing my daughters natural hair a ph of 4-5 seems to help me detangle her hair better and my fingers slide through easier when braiding.
I know that most conditioners are within a range of 4-7, which are fine. The ph like you stated goes up and down based on the additives added to it to preserve.....

I still use baking soda and my hair is fine with it.

I read and listen to everyone but I am going to do my own thing in the end.

By the way I love the naturalhaven's website.
 
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thenimblelife22

Active Member
Great post....you know how folks get when they learn something new lol I'm sure the craze will die down soon!

I don't have much to say other than I know I won't bebuying litmus paper to test hair products lol I had my fair share of acid/base chemistry and it's about time to leave that behind (graduating in December whoop whoop) lol

Lol, congratulations on graduating!


I havent seen any of the kimmaytube videos so I dont have a strong opinion on the subject. However, I just wanted to let you know that I thought your post was very informative and well written and I'll be waiting for the responses.

Thank you so much. I wanted to "come in peace" as much as possible because I know how popular pH testing is on this board right now. I really was expecting tomatoes and "boos" to be thrown on the post, lol, but I really just want a discussion.

I've been saying this for the friggn' longest! Thank you! :clapping:

@ Bolded You can say that again.:look: I hear she blocks anyone that disagrees. Respectively.

All I'm going to say about that is that I couldn't find any comments under the video that posed any questions similar to mine. I wasn't sure if I was the only one with this opinion, but I guess you're saying I might not be...:look:
 

naturalmanenyc

Well-Known Member
You are not playing devil's advocate at all. You provided factual information to support your position that although Kimmaytube's videos are informational, they are not the end all and be all to PH balance and what products are "good v. bad" for our hair.

I agree with you. About the only thing I do recall from chemistry class is that water is neutral and one should measure the PH of a substance based on it's distance from water.

I am a subscriber to Kimmaytube; however, I am not tossing out any of my products or buying any PH strips.


So, I know that pH testing is all the rage now since the debut of Kimmaytube's phenomenal video on pH balance and it's role in haircare. I enjoyed that video just as much as the next person, but I gotta say I'm a little perplexed at the extremes people have gone to when it comes to evaluating products based on their pH. I felt compelled to write this post to (1) see if anyone felt the same as I did and (2) get clarification or correction if I'm wrong.

Basically, I find myself now at odds with this whole movement for several reasons. Firstly, I believe that pH as it relates to hair care is not being evaluated in it's proper context. I am open to criticism on this so I really welcome you all to correct me at any time, but I'm wondering why pH is being touted as the premier characteristic in determining whether or not a product is "good" for the hair?

As The Natural Haven pointed out per the two scientific studies she sited on her blog,

"1. Hair does not absorb noticeable amounts of acid or base between pH 4-10 ( J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 393-405, 1981)

2. The cuticle separation distance is within the same range between pH 4 -9 (J Invest Dermatol 105: pp96-99, 1995)"

For that reason, I feel like Kimmaytube was a bit off in a few of her claims in her videos, particularly her declaration that one should not put any products on their hair with a pH higher than 7.0 because it puts too much stress on the cuticles of the hair. She likened the use of baking soda to the use of a mild relaxer (!!!) simply because the two fell into "the same" pH range (baking soda at about 8 and the mild relaxer at about 10-11). Now please don't mistake me for a baking soda proponent because I'm not, and I don't believe it's the best for our hair. That said, someone has to call attention to the fact that baking soda and lye relaxers are two very, very different chemical compounds. Firstly, baking soda is only mildly alkaline (not very alkaline as stated in the video) as it registers generally around 8, which is only one off from water, which is neutral at 7 (i.e. scientifically, you don't measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance by it's distance from hair. You measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance based on it's distance from water, which it neutral. Hair itself is acidic in comparison to water, so it's be misleading to say that something with a pH of 8 is very alkaline in comparison). Baking soda even has neutralizing properties, which is why most people keep a box in their fridge to neutralize odors. Wikipedia describes baking soda's neutralizing properties as:

"Many laboratories keep a bottle of sodium bicarbonate powder within easy reach, because sodium bicarbonate is amphoteric, reacting with acids and bases. Furthermore, as it is relatively innocuous in most situations, there is no harm in using excess sodium bicarbonate. Lastly, sodium bicarbonate powder may be used to smother a small fire."

Relaxers of all types are generally very alkaline at pH's of 11-14 (14 is the most alkaline), but even if there was one with a pH of 8 like baking soda, the pH is not the main reason why the relaxer is so damaging to the hair—the chemical composition is! Relaxers are ammonium and hydroxide based substances that literally corrode away the hair's cystine bonds! The chemical composition of Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, does no such thing, even if you could find a relaxer mild enough to match it's pH.

The above point brings me to the main concern I have with everyone running out and testing all of their products—we're focusing more on the pH of our products than we are on the actual composition of our products, when it's the later that affects our hair the most, good or bad. That's not to say that pH isn't important, because it's definitely good to know, but to my understanding at least (again, please correct me if I'm wrong) pH—unless it's an extreme pH on either side of the spectrum, of course—should not be the sole focus. I was really sad to see comments all over kimmaytube's page from viewers who were saying "I had a remedy that I was using for years and it worked great but now that I know it's a pH of 8, I'm going to throw it out and never use it again!" I'm like, if it works for you, and we can already determine that the hair cuticle won't be distressed at a pH between 4 and 9, why would you stop using it?

Secondly, this whole ordeal raised a red flag for me because it seemed to throw out centuries of positive testimonials from women of all cultures over one arbitrary characteristic. Instead of saying, "Hmm, the pH's of AVC, lemon juice, castille soap, etc, seem to be different than the pH of hair, but these items have traditionally worked for all types of women throughout the ages. Perhaps there's another factor in play," the case was made that ALL these women were wrong and that all these products must be barred from usage forever or diluted to infinitesimal amounts. Essentially then, no one knew what they were doing with their hair before the advent of modern science in pH testing methods and today's commercially produced hair products.

Again, I didn't write all this to be controversial or to be difficult, but the way all of this pH stuff has played out has been very distressing to me. No one's arguing that Dr. Bronner's is strong (I switched two a different brand of castille soap because it was to strong even for my body) or that baking soda might have a drying effect on the hair. I totally acknowledge all of that. All I'm saying is that there are specific characteristics about what's in both of those products that make them have the effect they do, rather than just their pHs.

Just in case anyone wants to know, I am not a scientist or anything like that, but I studied for 3 years as a chemical engineering major in college before switching to business, so I'm referencing a lot of what I can remember from organic chemistry and what I've found elsewhere. I could go on about inconsistencies I perceived from the videos (What baking soda is made out of, Paula Begoun's take on pH and it's effect on hair, needing an acidifier after contact with water, etc) but I guess I'll stop here. I can't stress enough how much I love Kimmaytube and how much I really appreciate her videos. This was the only one that I felt very opposed to the information she presented, but I didn't want to write to her because I know she feels very strongly about her position, to say the least. I do believe that she put a lot of research in to this, I just think some of her conclusions and statements are to be questioned. I just question the whole premise of pH being the end all be all in hair care. But I posted this here to encourage discussion and evaluation of both my and kimmaytube's claims.
 

sweetlaughter

Well-Known Member
I agree with you that we need to take into account the chemical composition of the product and not soley the pH. That being said, I will still look at the pH of products now because I already read and learn about the ingredients.
 

stixx

Member
Great post, backed up with sources too. I haven't really looked into the pH issue but great to see another well-thought out perspective.
 

Pompous Blue

Well-Known Member
I just question the whole premise of pH being the end all be all in hair care. But I posted this here to encourage discussion and evaluation of both my and kimmaytube's claims.
Thank you, thank you so much for this thread. I wondered what all the hoopla was about testing the ph of hair products. I WAS NOT going to go out and buy PH strips to test hair products that are truly working for me. Thank you for another perspective......I just wish people wouldn't believe everything they see and hear on YT 'cause it's on YT....SMH.
 

JustKiya

Well-Known Member
Excellent post - interesting, the concept of testing your products pH. I could totally understand doing that to fine tune a regimen, or to iron out some issues that you've tried most other measures to solve. :yep:
 

GodivaChocolate

Well-Known Member
Good post. I think it's important to challenge someone's research! It will be interesting to see what conclusions arise from this. I think you should contact her because you bring more information to the table,maybe these are things she has not looked into or does not possess the knowledge and background you bring to the table.
Thanks again for posting I think there's validity to what both of you are stating!:up:
 

mstk

Well-Known Member
Well said. I agree that pH shouldn't be the primary factor in determining the worth of hair products, but it is definitely good information to have. The more information we acquire about why and how products do what they do, the better the decisions we'll be able to make. I find it hard to disagree with scientific literature (as posted on Natural Haven), but if something is working for people, and there's no harm done to the hair, why not?

I subscribed to the pH balance thread but I can't see myself throwing anything out because it doesn't fall in the somewhat arbitrary "good" range of 4-6.
 

lilikoi

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting this. You've provided accurate info. It's just what I was thinking when I saw Kimmay's video but was way too lazy to post.
 

Chaosbutterfly

Transition Over
I love this post!

I saw the video, nodded my head (because it seemed like she had thought long and hard about it) and kept it moving. It's cool that people are thinking more about what they are using on their hair, but to suddenly make it THEE defining factor about what I use in my hair is just not going to work for my life. After what feels like ages, and what I know has been hundreds of dollars, I think I know what products/ingredients my hair likes and what products/ingredients it does not.

And I'm not gonna let a piece of litmus paper *** up my ish. :lachen:
 

lovelexi

New Member
Great post! I believe that ph balance is necessary for a healthier person in general both inside and out. I think that the whole pH thing has been taken to another level. I think the ph balance thing should be just that a balance. Im not going to switch all my products to be acidic for some reason without research I dont see the benefits of doing that. But thats just me. again very informative post!
 

mimi

New Member
The whole point of using pH balanced conditioners is to close the cuticle of the hair, in order to prevent the loss of moisture received from water. You'll notice depending on the porosity of your hair that, if you rinse product-less hair solely with water, and let it air-dry, your hair will not be as smooth and soft as it could be. That is because the neutral pH of water is about 1000x greater than the pH of the hair thus causing the cuticle of the hair to open. This allows water/moisture to both enter and escape freely. These cuticles will remain open unless they are close mechanically (i.e oils, cones,) or chemically (i.e products of a balanced pH). However your best bet for getting your cuticles closed evenly is chemically. I completely agree with you that treatments such as baking soda/ ACV rinses serve wonderful age old benefits to hair, skin, or what have you. However, it is scientifically proven that anything with a pH higher than that of the hair's natural pH(about 6 and up) will help to open up your cuticles and allow moisture and other permeable nutrients (i.e. protein and fatty acids) into the hair shaft. These higher pH's are ideal for thoroughly cleanse the hair shaft and bringing moisture back into the hair. That is why baking soda rinse is a wonderful cleansing method. Also baking soda added to a conditioner can also help the hair to absorb the conditioner better however, the most important thing is how you retain/ seal in that moisture after you leave the shower and head for the outdoors. So basically what I'm trying to say is that chemically closing the cuticle via the pH method is simply just another way of sealing in moisture. Oils, butters, or cones can also close the cuticle to seal in moisture however, doing so chemically will do so more efficiently and evenly, so that you can be certain your cuticles are shut. When you cuticles are shut and lying down flat not only does your hair retain moisture but it also produces a smoother surface off of which light is more greatly reflected resulting in better shine. As a person with a bachelor's degree in Biological sciences, and as a person who has tried this method with results out of this world, I'd say that Kimmaytube is right on! Remember ladies... "Don't knock em' until you've tried em'.:nono: Just give it a shot. This is a method I have been raving about not only online but in my daily life as well. In the past I haven't been one to join many bandwagons but, this pH thing?...not only does it make perfect sense to me, it actually works for me! My twist now look shiny consistently!:drunk: I don't even have to use as much oil or Shea butter as I use to.Just keep an open mind but always remember this may not be for everybody, though the science of it and my results has me convince that it should.lol :yep:
 

manter26

Well-Known Member
Thank you for this post! I agree 100%!!! I really wanted to post a similar question. I personally prefer to steer clear of her videos, but I did watch this one. When she said anything very basic (dr bronners) can be likened to a relaxer...um no. Anyone with the slightest bit of chemical knowledge knows that is not how it works.

I still use my dr bronners, I dilute it a lot like it's says. I'll probably switch to something else along the line but it'll be hard to give up the minty freshness.
 

Iluvsmuhgrass

Well-Known Member
Thank you for this post! I agree 100%!!! I really wanted to post a similar question. I personally prefer to steer clear of her videos, but I did watch this one. When she said anything very basic (dr bronners) can be likened to a relaxer...um no. Anyone with the slightest bit of chemical knowledge knows that is not how it works.

I still use my dr bronners, I dilute it a lot like it's says. I'll probably switch to something else along the line but it'll be hard to give up the minty freshness.


:lachen::lachen::lachen: @ the bolded. That was golden!
 

LittleLuxe

New Member
Excellent post!

I agree it's good to be very informed and learn new information that you can positively apply to your life, still I think people do have a tendency to hop on new exciting bandwagons without doing THEIR OWN research and finding out whether it's something to worry about.

I agree it is sad when people put aside things they've learned DO work for them to follow a system they are not sure will and even if it did a system that they are following incorrectly (that's ironic).

As for kimmay I think it's a little sad she shuts down voices of intelligent opposition, so long as they are willing to be polite it would help bring depth to the conversation. Still some people don't like threats to their power.
 

Iluvsmuhgrass

Well-Known Member
OP I love your post! :yep: I had wondered about this very thing. I can see using aloe juice in my mixes (in lieu of plain water or subbing for rosewater when I don't have any) but likening loads of random products to a relaxer was a bit much. I have been subbed to her for a while and I love the freshness she brings to videos.

BTW I hell hate baking soda for my hair... love it for brushing my teeth though. :look:
 

Nayna

Unbothered
The fact of the matter is there is more than one way to care for natural and relaxed hair.
 
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Rocky91

NYE side boob.
excellent thread, OP. :yep:
i kinda wish you could make a video response to her video, as there are a bunch of ppl on youtube who could definitely use this different perspective.
 

Curlykale

New Member
I watched Kimmay's video twice after wondering the same thing, trying to pay attention to some details I hadn't catched. At some point she says the danger zone that we should pay more attention to is situated out of the 4 to 8 range, and that commercial products are all ph balanced: her warning is especially directed towards our homemade coconctions. Maybe what she is trying to say is that when we use pure materials that are too acidic or basic by themselves, or not properly diluited, we can damage our hair. The same can happen when we tweak our products at home in the wrong way. I don't know if I would perceive a difference between 4 and 8 (curious about that, actually), but after having seen that video I diluite my ACV rinses more now...
...I used to think that natural is better and natural stuff cannot damage hair but now I'm much more wary when I want to season my hair in the kitchen, I must say.
 
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Curly Lee

Well-Known Member
I agree with you OP great post! :yep: Even though I too became in to PH testing now after reading Natural Haven's blog, I think it's not necessarily a bandwagon idea. I think it's just one more informational tool that may prove helpful in someone's HHJ but PH is by no means the end all, be all of hair care standards.
 
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