Can You Use Neutralizing Shampoo On Natural Hair?


Using the right shampoo is crucial for maintaining healthy hair, especially for those with natural hair.

With so many different types of shampoos on the market, it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. One type of shampoo that often raises questions is neutralizing shampoo.

Neutralizing shampoo is typically used after a chemical treatment, such as a relaxer or perm, to restore the hair’s pH balance. It works by neutralizing any remaining chemicals left on the hair after the treatment.

However, some people wonder if they can use neutralizing shampoo on their natural hair, even if they haven’t had a chemical treatment.

The answer is yes, you can use neutralizing shampoo on natural hair. However, it’s important to understand that neutralizing shampoo is designed for a specific purpose and may not be the best choice for everyday use.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of using neutralizing shampoo on natural hair and offer tips for incorporating it into your hair care routine.

What Is Neutralizing Shampoo

If you have chemically treated hair, chances are you’ve heard of neutralizing shampoo. But what exactly is it, and can you use it on natural hair? Let’s explore.

A neutralizing shampoo is a specialty shampoo that is formulated to safely remove chemicals from hair relaxer treatments and return the pH level of the hair back to its natural acidic state.

Its main purpose is to counterbalance the alkaline pH that is left on the hair strands after a relaxer application, as relaxers contain sodium hydroxide which opens up the hair cuticles during the chemical process.

It uses powerful chelating agents like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) that are able to bind to metal ions and help wash the sodium hydroxide residues out of the hair strands.

By bringing the pH level of the hair back down into its normal acidic range of 4-5, which is close to the natural pH of the scalp which is around 5.5, the neutralizing shampoo completes the process of neutralizing the hair after a relaxer treatment.

It should be used as the final step after relaxing the hair, working the low pH formulation, typically between 5-6, through the damp hair strands in order to neutralize and remove the relaxer chemicals.

Continued regular use of a neutralizing shampoo also helps prevent damage over time by removing any product build-up or residues from styling products that accumulate and could compromise the hair structure if left untreated.

The Role Of pH In Hair Health

pH stands for “potential of hydrogen” and refers to the level of acidity or alkalinity in a substance.

Our hair and scalp have a natural pH of around 4.5 to 5.5, which is slightly acidic. This acidity helps to keep the hair cuticle closed and healthy, which in turn helps to prevent damage and breakage.

When we use chemical treatments like relaxers or perms, we raise the pH of the hair to make it more alkaline.

This helps to break down the hair’s natural structure so that it can be reshaped.

However, it’s important to bring the pH back down to its natural level after the treatment is complete. This is where neutralizing shampoo comes in.

Ingredients In Neutralizing Shampoos

Neutralizing shampoos are designed to bring the hair’s pH back down to its natural level after a chemical treatment.

They typically contain acidic ingredients like citric acid or acetic acid, which help to neutralize any remaining alkaline residue on the hair.

While neutralizing shampoos are primarily used after chemical treatments, some people with very oily hair or hard water may also use them as a clarifying shampoo.

However, it’s important to note that neutralizing shampoos can be drying, so they should not be used too frequently.

Neutralizing shampoo can be a useful tool for those with chemically treated hair to bring the pH back down to its natural level. However, it’s not necessary for those with natural hair, as their hair is already at the correct pH level.

If you do decide to use a neutralizing shampoo, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use it only as needed.

Proper Usage Of Neutralizing Shampoo

Neutralizing shampoo is a type of clarifying shampoo that helps to restore the natural pH balance of your hair after a chemical treatment.

While it is typically used after a relaxer or perm, it can also be used on natural hair.

Here are some tips on how to properly use neutralizing shampoo on your natural hair.

Application Techniques

When using neutralizing shampoo on your natural hair, it is important to apply it correctly.

Here are some techniques to keep in mind:

  • Wet your hair thoroughly before applying the shampoo.
  • Apply the shampoo to your scalp and work it into a lather.
  • Gently massage your scalp to help remove any buildup or residue.
  • Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly with warm water.

Frequency Of Use

While neutralizing shampoo can be helpful in removing buildup and restoring your hair’s natural pH balance, it should not be used too frequently.

  • Use neutralizing shampoo no more than once a month.
  • If you have scalp irritation or other issues, consult with a dermatologist before using neutralizing shampoo.
  • Use a deep conditioning treatment after using neutralizing shampoo to help restore moisture to your hair.

Everyone’s hair type is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Always make sure to pay attention to your hair’s natural texture and adjust your hair care routine accordingly.

While neutralizing shampoo can be a helpful addition to your hair care routine, it should be used with care and in moderation.

With proper use, it can help keep your hair manageable and free of buildup from styling products and hair treatments.

The Importance Of Using A Deep Conditioner

Even if you don’t regularly relax your natural hair, occasionally using a neutralizing shampoo can have benefits such as removing buildup from hair products and mineral deposits that damage hair over time.

However, just as with relaxed hair, the cleansing agents in neutralizing shampoos can strip away natural oils and moisture from natural hair.

While neutralizing helps cleanse the hair and scalp, leaving natural hair feeling dry and prone to breakage if not replenished with moisture.

Using a deep conditioning treatment after washing with a neutralizing shampoo seals in hydration to counteract any drying effects.

It allows nourishing ingredients like oils, butters and proteins to penetrate the hair strands and cuticles.

This reinforces hair’s structure against damage from environmental factors like sun exposure and styling heat.

Deep conditioning also detangles hair made knotty from shampooing, making styling easier. 

Other Questions You May Have

How often should I use a neutralizing shampoo?

Most hair care experts recommend using a neutralizing shampoo 1-2 times per week if you get regular relaxer treatments. This helps remove any product build-up or residues from styling products and keeps the hair’s pH level balanced.

Using it as part of your regular hair care routine in the long run can help prevent damage from harsh chemicals and ensure the best results.

Can I make my own neutralizing shampoo at home?

While it is possible to make a DIY neutralizing shampoo at home using ingredients like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to help lower the pH, commercial neutralizing shampoos tend to work better. They contain powerful chelating agents and other ingredients optimized for this purpose.

For best results and safety, it’s usually recommended to use a store-bought neutralizing shampoo formulated for this use, such as Isoplus or Elasta QP.

Can I use a neutralizing shampoo if I haven’t had a relaxer in months?

While neutralizing shampoo is specifically formulated to remove chemicals from relaxer treatments, you can still benefit from using it occasionally even if you haven’t had a recent relaxer.

Its chelating agents help remove mineral deposits and product build-up that can accumulate over time.

Using it monthly as a “resetting” shampoo can keep your hair’s pH balanced and scalp cleansed for continued healthy hair growth.

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