pH Levels and Your Scalp

There are so many different reasons women (and some men) have for griping about their hair; the reasons only increase if you happen to be an ethnic woman. Different shampoos create different results for different hair types. How does that work out? And are all the chemicals in modern shampoos safe?

In recent years, there’s been a grassroots movement to eliminate shampoo, known as going “no-poo”, that has steadily picked up steam. Participants cleanse their hair with homegrown concoctions, usually some dilution of baking soda and water, and finish with an apple cider vinegar conditioning rinse.

Whether you choose to go the traditional route or opt for a more home grown method, there are a few things regarding the pH levels of hair and scalp that you should know. First of all, the pH value of something is how acidic or basic it is. From the EPA.gov website:

The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is. It ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is basic. Each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the next higher value. For example, a pH of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 5 and 100 times (10 times 10) more acidic than a pH of 6. The same holds true for pH values above 7, each of which is ten times more alkaline—another way to say basic—than the next lower whole value. For example, a pH of 10 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 9.

What does that have to do with hair, you ask? Dominique Harris of All Things O Natural notes:

Sebum, which is the hair’s natural oil, has a pH (potential/power of hydrogen) Level of 4.5 to 5.5, which makes it slightly acidic.

This means that, by and large, our scalps are more acidic than water, which has a neutral pH of 7. This matters because

…hair products with alkaline pH levels open the hair cuticle, making your strands susceptible to major color loss and damage,

according to Rob Guimond, Sojourn hair care director of chemistry. So even water opens up the hair cuticle, since, despite it being neutral, on the whole it is still more alkaline than our sebum (Beautylish.com).

In the baking soda + ACV rinse I mentioned above, the baking soda opens up the hair shaft and the apple cider vinegar works to seal it up again. The extreme changes in levels wreaks havoc on your head. Many users report that it works for some months but then their hair is listless and “strawlike.”

It’s best to find a shampoo (natural or synthetic) that is pH balanced to match the composition of human hair. Rob Guimond warns that:

Many companies use the term pH-balanced to market their products, but this could mean a pH level of anything.

It’s always best to do a spot of research beforehand. The best way to know for sure is to purchase a pH testing kit (readily available online—even WalMart carries them!) and run a quick and simple test on your hair care products.

With all that being said, there are plenty of people out there who don’t buy into this—at least not completely. And not just yet anyway. The science is solid and makes sense, but it falls into that category of things which haven’t been tested enough. And of course, everyone is different. Trichologist at the (apparently legendary) Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York City, Elizabeth Cunnane Philips says she hasn’t seen the pH issue affect any patients dramatically.

It’s still a marketing angle at this point, but that doesn’t mean there’s not validity to the topic. It’s an interesting concept that can only have a positive effect on all hair types.

References
EPA.gov: Acid Rain
Let’s Talk Hair: Are You Testing Your pH…Level That Is?
Beautylish.com
WalMart.com: pH test strips

The Secret World of Bacteria

 

Warning: this article should not be read within proximity to sandpaper or pumice rocks as there is a high likelihood of sanding down one’s skin in terror. This one gets gross, kiddies.

One of the many benefits already seen since the inception of the Human Microbiome Project in 2007 is the outrageous discovery that only 10% of our body is human.

What kind of madman rant are you going on this time, Qwizx?

As it turns out, crazy as it may sound, the overwhelming majority of cells within/out our person are bacteria. In fact, we are a staggering 90% non-human. Swimming amidst the estimated 10 trillion cells constituting your selfness are something like 100 trillion individual little critters that call your life-fluids home. In a microscopic landscape of terrain, legions of monsters are swathing, swarming, warring, breeding, breathing and all-out taking over the slabs of meat we self-reference as “I.”

100 trillion is a big number, maybe too large for a human mind to fathom, so instead, let’s imagine it this way: There are currently 7,000,000,000 people in the world (that’s billion, with a B)… There are 14 THOUSAND times that many (our current planetary population) bacteria wiggling inside you this moment, Jacuzzi-ing in your tear-ducts as you read this. When I say bacteria, by the way, I mean these things (thank you, electron microscopes)…

Cluster of E. Coli sipping margaritas by the lake of sulfur in hell, or…

Setting up camp in a clump of uranium like it ain’t no thang

Essentially, research teams have gathered data that redefines humanity, suggesting the body is a superorganism “whose metabolism represents an amalgamation of microbial and human attributes.

Life always finds a way, just not necessarily humanoid life. A genomic sequencing study has recently discovered high numbers of hydrothermal vent eubacteria on prosthetic hip joints. This wouldn’t be a big deal, considering the plethora of ghouls infesting people, accept hydrothermal vent eubacteria are a species once thought only to live in the blackness of the ocean’s depths (you know, cause surviving on uranium isn’t scary enough).

(below) At Steve’s liver for the weekly orgy and ritual-sacrifice (BYOB) 

By no means is this exclusively shiver-inducing news. Like when Copernicus realized the earth revolved around the sun, this is a “discovery,” meaning it was always true, just now it’s news to us. No need for mass panic, cause this is how it’s supposed to work, and always has. However, there are some interesting implications:

Hurray, no more lonely Saturday nights!

Imagine our bodies, now, as a planet onto themselves, where bacteria pay their property taxes, vote, and even take their kids to little league in the small intestine. We humans are not individuals, but a collective, a civilization or a conglomerate, united in a symbiosis where each individual creepy-crawly plays his part on the whole. Sure, just like in human civilizations, there are the equivalent of warring gang factions, and like we always do, these sparse rebels gets all the focus (I’m looking at you, gonorrhea.), but our microscopic brothers and sisters are absolutely essential to our  continued existence.

If we’re like a corporation, hell yeah, I get to be the CEO.

Not quite. Sorry. We’re more like the semi-dipshit boss wrapped around his employees’ fingers. The sneaky scallywags just let us think the best ideas are ours so we can save face; the germs are in charge. Through the clever excretion of chemicals, our fuzzy little friends manipulate our lives in almost every conceivable way, from our health to straight up mind-control. However, don’t panic; it’s less like “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” and more like the Futurama episode where Fry eats the vending machine egg salad and becomes an Ubber-Fry.

Cuddly fella literally tugging at heart strings.

The NIH’s Human Microbiome Project plans on cataloging the entire human microbiome, or metagenome, and thus far only approximately 1% of this microbiota has been characterized and identified.  They’ve just begun to peak into the Pandora’s box of possibilities from our neighbors to the nano, so, I don’t know about you, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for sensory enhancing super parasites.

By all means, keep washing your hands, but these guys are unavoidable. See that cute fella hiding in the upper-left corner of this close-up of dust (below), the Kraken-lookin spawn of Lucifer posing for a cameo in your nightmares? He’s everywhere.

(technicolor added for enhanced terror)

 

As a final gut-wrenching thought, even if you just brushed your teeth, here’s a close-up of just some of the things currently crawling on your tongue.

 

 Sources:

hmpdacc.org

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (2, 3, 4 times)

mpkb.org

scientificamerican.com

news.sciencemag.org

watchcartoononline.com