We see the term everywhere – pH balanced skin and hair products. pH has become a buzzword, and some consumers are worried about the pH of their hair, scalp, teeth, and skin. No doubt, creating worry is a great sales tactic to sell shampoos, soaps, and cosmetics. But, the science behind it is questionable.
It is important to remember that those selling these products have no medical or scientific credentials. They provide no evidence supported by links to the scientific literature supporting their claims. Much of what they say is pure salesmanship mixed with pseudoscience.
You see pH balanced skin and hair products in women’s magazines. Then there are the commercial sites selling “pH balanced” products. The sales pitch claims that alkalinity causes dry, sensitive skin, eczema, and inflammation. Then we have acidity causes angry breakouts, with redness and inflammation. To normalize pH, they recommend dietary changes and probiotics. The fact is, neither of these is supported by scientific studies. Also recommend acidic hair rinses (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar), rainwater, herbs, and essential oils. And, of course, switching shampoos, soaps, or other products to the ones these sites are selling is guaranteed to solve your problems.
As a scientist, I look for studies of skin pH in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. There are a lot of studies involving pH and skin. But nothing to validate pH balanced skin and hair products. Absolutely nothing to support the various recommendations found in women’s magazines and commercial sites selling “pH balanced” skin and hair products.
So, where does this leave us? There could well be some truth in some of the pH claims. But there is no evidence. We just have to wait for science to catch up. In the meantime, if a particular skin or hair care product works for you, then stick with it. And stop worrying about the pH of your products.
Dr. Mike Thair
Indochine Natural Sdn Bhd