Looking for a good low pH shampoo is hard because shampoos typically don’t show the pH on the label. We’ve done the research for you to bring you the best options and everything you need to know about using this type of shampoo.
All About Low pH Shampoo
Have you heard about using low pH shampoo for hair and scalp health? pH might not be one of your top concerns when searching for a new shampoo, but it’s actually one of the most important factors in your hair and scalp’s overall health.
If you’ve ever used apple cider vinegar in your hair for shine and smoothness, you’ve already dabbled with a low pH “shampoo.” Shampoo with a low pH is specially formulated to be gentle on the hair.
These types of shampoos have been proven to reduce negative electrical charges that cause frizz, breakage, static, and tangles. This is because shampoos with a low pH level stay closer to the natural pH level of the scalp and hair shaft.
We’ll fill you in on all you need to know about low pH shampoos, who should use them, and which shampoos you should consider in this guide.
If you’ve been struggling with any number of hair problems and haven’t been able to find a good solution yet, the pH of your shampoo might be exactly the simple fix you need.
What Is Low pH Shampoo?
The pH scale goes from 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral (not acid or base). Alkaline (base) solutions are higher than 7, and acids are lower than 7. So, a low pH shampoo would be an acidic shampoo with a pH lower than 7.
Sometimes you’ll see low pH options labeled as acidic-balanced shampoo. Since the hair shaft pH is around 3.6 and the scalp’s pH is around 5.5, we can consider shampoos with a pH below 5.5 to be a low pH shampoo.
If you’ve noticed your hair seems to look much better after a salon visit, the pH of the shampoo used probably contributes to the difference. About 75% of professional shampoos used in salons are “low pH” at or below 5.5. But only 38% of consumer brand shampoos are low pH.
That’s why it’s important to specifically seek out a low pH option if you have a certain hair type or want to combat common hair problems.
Low pH shampoo can be effective in reducing:
It has a smoothing effect because it seals the cuticle scales along the hair shaft. So, if you have frizzy, thinning, breaking, or easily tangled hair, a shampoo with a lower pH could be exactly the solution you’re looking for.
Once you make the switch, you’ll never look back.
Hair Types That Need Low pH Shampoo
Is shampoo with a low pH right for everyone?
Basically, yes. The average pH of the hair shaft (3.6) and scalp (5.5) is on the acidic end of the pH scale. Using a shampoo with a higher pH than your hair shaft or scalp creates problems for your hair on the atomic level.
One study found that “An alkaline pH may increase the negative electrical net charge of the hair fiber surface and, therefore, increase the friction between the fibers. Friction, the main cause of frizz, can be minimized by adequate formulation of cleaning products, which is particularly important for African hair and curly hair.”
So, while every head of hair will see some type of benefit from using a shampoo with a lower pH, anyone with African hair or curly hair will likely see the greatest benefits.
Likewise, if you have damaged, color-treated hair or any of the issues that tend to plague curly hair (frizz, breakage, tangles), this type of shampoo will be hugely helpful. Anyone with thinning hair can also find this type of shampoo beneficial.
Choose a low pH option if you have:
- African hair
- Curly hair
- Weak or damaged hair
- Color-treated hair
- Easily tangled hair
- Frizzy hair
- Thinning hair
Ok, now you’ve learned when it’s important to use a low pH shampoo. But how the heck do you find a product that works for your hair? Don’t worry — we’ve done all the research to find the best products on the market.
7 Best Low pH Shampoo Options
Start your search for the best acidic shampoo here. We’ve reviewed hundreds of shampoos that claim to be low pH to find the top options.
These shampoos are formulated with a pH that will keep your hair and scalp in balance without creating static, frizz, breakage, hair loss, and tangles.
We’ll show you the top 7 shampoos with a low pH and which hair types they’re best for.
Biolage RAW Nourish Shampoo
- Shampoo pH: Between 4-5
- Best for: Dry hair
- Smells like: Honey and musk
Biolage is a trusted brand in the hair care arena, and many professionals use it. This shampoo has a low pH – somewhere between 4 and 5 – to perfectly balance your hair and scalp.
It’s formulated to be silicone, sulfate, and paraben-free. It’s best for dry hair that needs extra nourishment and moisture. If you have oily hair, this shampoo may exacerbate the problem.
Quinoa husk, coconut, and honey are examples of the natural ingredients used in this nourishing shampoo.
Herbal Essences Repairing Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo
- Shampoo pH: 3.5-5
- Best for: Damaged or frizzy hair
- Smells like: Vanilla-spiced citrus
Damaged, frizzy hair is the best candidate for this repairing shampoo. Smoothing argan oil, soothing aloe vera, natural sea kelp, and rich antioxidants are all included in this formula.
It’s designed to keep your hair and scalp pH balanced while gently cleansing and repairing damage. It’s paraben and dye-free if those are ingredients you look out for.
The price shown above is for the shampoo and conditioner set, which is a great idea if you’re paying attention to the pH of the products you use on your hair. Making sure the conditioner is also a low pH option is essential.
ATTITUDE Super Leaves Natural Shampoo
- Shampoo pH: Between 4-5
- Best for: Oily, fine, or dull hair
- Smells like: Earl Grey tea
This shampoo gets excellent reviews (4.5-star average), and while it’s pricey, a small amount is all you need. It’s filled with acidic ingredients that keep your hair from developing a negative electrical charge that causes frizz and static.
Formulated with no parabens, sodium laureth sulfates, silicones, or artificial scents, this natural shampoo is low enough on the pH scale to keep your hair and scalp balanced.
It’s perfect for hair that tends to get oily fast as it mimics the pH of your scalp’s natural oils to trick it into decreasing oil production.
Joico Moisture Recovery Shampoo
- Shampoo pH: 4.5-5.5
- Best for: Thick/coarse or dry hair
- Smells like: Peachy melon musk
Joico is another professional brand often found in salons. This Moisture Recovery shampoo is Joico’s answer for thick, coarse, dry hair in serious need of moisture.
If frizz, tangles, and a rough texture are the hair problems you’re facing, this is the answer. The low-pH formula guarantees smoother, stronger, shinier hair that is less likely to frizz or break.
It delivers intense moisture deep into strands for a soft feel that you’ll love. You’ll find smoothing and hydrating ingredients like jojoba seed oil and sea kelp inside for the ultimate healthy hair.
Nexxus Therappe Moisture Shampoo
- Shampoo pH: 4.8-5.5
- Best for: Damaged, dry, or high porosity hair
- Smells like: Coconut and linen
Dry, bleached or color-treated, and high porosity hair sometimes feels like it needs a miracle. A moisture miracle. This shampoo with a pH below your scalp’s pH is perfect.
It is formulated with no silicones and features caviar complex and elastin protein for serious strand strength. Your hair is about 90% protein, and this heavy-hitting shampoo delivers all the strength and support it needs to fill in porous gaps.
It helps hair stay healthy while cleansing it at a pH level that is safe and balanced for your hair and scalp. It has a great, clean coconut scent.
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
- Shampoo pH: 4-5
- Best for: Any hair type
- Smells like: Apple cider vinegar and lavender
This amazing product is actually a shampoo *alternative* and not technically a lathering shampoo. But the pH is naturally low, and it’s perfectly suited for cleansing, strengthening, and smoothing hair.
It removes dirt and grime without stripping all the good, natural oils away. The low pH formula seals the hair cuticle scales for smooth shine and more vibrant hair color.
If you have color-treated hair, using apple cider vinegar (ACV) in your hair has the same color-fast effect as adding vinegar to a load of laundry! Argan oil, lavender extract, vitamin E, and aloe vera are in the formula for added nourishment.
Fekkai Full Blown Volume Shampoo
- Shampoo pH: 4.5-5.5
- Best for: Limp, flat, fine, or thinning hair
- Smells like: Orange, rosemary, and coconut
Fekkai’s Full Blown Volume shampoo is one of our favorite low pH options because it’s designed for fine, flat hair. If your hair needs a boost of lift, body, and volume, this is your jam.
It’s paraben, silicone, sulfate, and phthalate-free (as well as cruelty-free and vegan). Most volumizing shampoos cause hair to be easily tangled and frizzy.
Not this one! It detangles and smoothes the hair while delivering a blast of extra volume thanks to the low pH level. If we had to describe this shampoo with one word, it would be revitalizing.
How to Test Shampoo pH
If you want to check the pH level of the shampoo or other hair product you’re currently using, you can’t rely on the label. Unfortunately, most shampoos don’t include the pH of the product on the label.
Instead, I recommend investing about $8 into a box of pH test strips. They’re a game-changer. If you’re upgrading to a lower-pH shampoo, your other hair products need to be checked as well.
If the pH of your hair serum, mousse, gel, conditioner, or hair mask is higher than 5.5, using a shampoo with a low pH won’t give you the results you’re looking for. You’ll still get pesky static, frizz, breakage, and tangles.
After removing the pH strip from the package:
- Squirt a little shampoo or hair product into a clean dish.
- Dip the strip into the product you’re testing and wait for the color to change.
- Use your pH strip packaging to compare the color of the strip to the pH level it corresponds to. If the pH is higher than 5.5, you need to find a new, lower-pH shampoo to use.
How Soon Will I Get Results from a Low pH Shampoo?
Now that you’ve seen the best shampoos with a pH below 5.5 and decided which one is right for your hair type, how soon can you expect to see results?
The answer depends on the type of results you’re looking for. Functional and structural results usually take a little longer than cosmetic results.
In my experience, increased shine, reduced tangles and frizz, and more balanced oil production (read: my hair isn’t an oil slick by day 2) are noticeable after using a low pH product like apple cider vinegar.
For reduced breakage, increased hair strength, and lower hair porosity, you’ll need to regularly use a low pH-formulated shampoo. Don’t forget the conditioner!
Following up your cleansing routine with equally low pH products is essential. If you use alkaline (high pH) products after a low pH product, it will completely unravel your efforts. This is where pH test strips really come in handy.
Should You Use a Low pH Shampoo?
Overall, using a shampoo with a low pH is a basic change you can make that will have incredible effects on your hair’s health, appearance, and structure.
It can correct most of the common hair issues – frizz, tangles, imbalanced oil production, dullness, and breakage – on its own.
Make sure you’re pairing your new acidic-balanced shampoo with other low pH hair products for the best results. You’re going to love your shiny, healthy locks once you make the switch!