Written by: Anindita Thakur

What is neutralizing shampoo and when to use it?

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Ever wondered what that special bottle labeled “neutralizing shampoo” on the shelf is for? This wonder cleanser is the reset button of your chemically treated or relaxed hair, but how? So, let’s explore the science behind and know exactly what is neutralizing shampoo? when to use neutralizing shampoo? Buckle up, because we’re about to unlock the secrets for healthier, happier and vibrant hair!

What is neutralizing shampoo when to use neutralizing shampoo
What is neutralizing shampoo when to use neutralizing shampoo

The science behind: What is neutralizing shampoo?

A neutralizing shampoo is a specialized hair cleanser designed for chemically treated hair or hair with an imbalanced pH. Chemical treatments like coloring, perming, straightening, or relaxing can disturb the pH of your hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and weak. A neutralizing shampoo not only cleanses your hair but also helps to restore its natural pH balance, making it healthy and strong. Your hair will look and feel confident, and you will enjoy a natural shine.

What does a neutralizing shampoo do?

Hair is naturally acidic (pH 4.5-5.5), while hair treatments being alkaline (pH above 7) disrupts the natural hair’s pH. Consequently, the hair cuticles open up, making them more prone to damage. This results in dull, lifeless, fizzy, and weak hair. A neutralizing shampoo has a unique formula that helps neutralize the hair’s alkalinity, restoring its natural pH and bringing back its shine, luster, health, and strength.

What are the ingredients in neutralizer shampoo?

Compostion of neutralizing shampoo
Compostion of neutralizing shampoo

Different neutralizing shampoos have unique recipes but the 5 essential ingredients it must have are:

  • Deionized Water: Deionized water is purified water, i.e., free of mineral ions. It is gentle on the hair and prevents mineral build-up.
  • Acidifiers: Neutralizing shampoos must have acids like lactic acid and citric acid. These acids help to remove chemicals, restore the scalp and hair’s natural pH levels, reduce scalp dryness, and facilitate hair regrowth.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: The common neutralizer used in neutralizing shampoos is sodium hydroxide in trace amounts. It separates positively charged sodium atoms from negatively charged oxygen atoms and electrically neutral hydrogen atoms.
  • Humectants: Neutralizing shampoo contains glycerine, propylene glycol, laurate, and disostearate as humectants. These humectants bond hydrogen with water molecules to moisturize hair and scalp. Additionally, they also have neutralizing effects.
  • Surfactants: Surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine, lauramine oxide, and cocamidopropyl betaine help to increase the solubility of residue on hair and make the shampoo more spreadable.

Additionally, neutralizing shampoos often contain conditioning agents, proteins, and moisturizers, which help restore hair’s natural moisture and nourish it from within.

Benefits of neutralizing shampoo: why you need it?

Benefits of using neutralizing shampoo
Benefits of using neutralizing shampoo

The 4 prime benefits of neutralizing shampoo are:

  • Restore pH: Neutralizing shampoo is an essential hair care product with several benefits. It helps restore the pH balance of your hair, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy scalp and hair. Ideally, the pH level of hair should be between 4.5 and 5.5, and neutralizing shampoo plays a pivotal role in achieving this.
  • Prevent Damage: Apart from restoring the pH balance, the neutralizing shampoo also helps prevent damage to your hair by washing away the residue of chemical treatments. This way, it protects your hair from prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals, which can lead to excessive damage.
  • Lock result of chemical treatment: Using neutralizing shampoo also helps lock in the results of chemical treatments. It seals the hair cuticles, which extends the effects of chemical treatments and makes hair smoother, shinier, and healthier.
  • Reduce breakage: Neutralizing shampoo can also help reduce hair breakage. Chemical treatments can often cause split ends and breakage, but neutralizing shampoo locks in the hair cuticles, making them more resilient and less prone to fall.

Overall, neutralizing shampoo is a simple yet effective way to maintain healthy and beautiful hair.

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How does neutralizing shampoo work?

Chemical treatments can affect the natural pH of your hair, opening up the cuticles and exposing the inner cortex. It allows chemicals to penetrate the hair follicles and alter the structure of your hair. A specialized formula of neutralizing shampoo can counteract the alkaline particles left behind by chemical treatments, helping to bring your scalp’s pH back to its natural acidic range of 4.5-5.5. This acidity helps to close the cuticles, resulting in smooth, resilient, and healthy hair that is less likely to become damaged.

The role of neutralizing shampoo on colored hair

If you have recently colored your hair, either at home or in a salon, it is essential to use a neutralizing shampoo to ensure the health of your hair. Coloring your hair alters its pH level by penetrating the cuticle. While this is necessary for achieving the desired color, it can damage your hair if not properly neutralized.

Using a neutralizing shampoo after coloring your hair is crucial. The shampoo restores your hair to its optimal pH level. It helps to seal the color molecules within the hair shaft and maintain the hair’s vibrancy and health. By using a neutralizing shampoo after chemical treatments, you can maintain the pH balance of your hair and prevent long-term damage.

It is vital to remember that maintaining the pH balance of your hair is crucial for preserving its health and strength.

Related: Best color protect shampoo

When to use neutralizing shampoo?

Use neutralizing shampoo in your haircare routine.

  • After a chemical treatment: Chemical treatments like straightening, perming, curling, and hair relaxer break down the bonds in your hair. This process can damage your hair and affect the results of the treatment. However, using a neutralizing shampoo after the treatment restores the hair’s pH hair and prevents further damage. This ensures that the treatment is effective and your hair remains healthy.
  • After coloring hair: When you color your hair, the pigments or residue from the dye can enter the cuticle and cause damage. A neutralizing shampoo can help to neutralize this residue and wash it away, preventing damage to your hair. It also helps to extend the longevity of your hair color and prevent fading or unwanted changes. Therefore, use a neutralizing shampoo after coloring your hair to maintain its health and color.

Neutralizing shampoo on hair types

Whether you have straight, curly, or oily hair, neutralizing shampoo is always advantageous. Below are the benefits that different hair types draw from neutralizing shampoo.

  • Chemically Treated Hair: Neutralizing shampoo is the best choice for chemically treated hair, whether your hair is colored, relaxed, or permed. It protects hair and boosts and extends the effect of treatment.
  • Curly Hair: Curly hair is more prone to dryness and frizz. Neutralizing shampoo helps balance hair’s moisture and minimize frizz, resulting in defined, bouncy curls.
  • Straight Hair: Neutralizing shampoo also benefits straight hair. It helps remove any residual build-up from styling products, giving the hair a fresh and clean feel.
  • Coily Hair: The tight curls of oily hair often require extra care. Neutralizing shampoo helps to the curls. It cleans build-up and excess oil, promoting a healthy scalp and luscious coils.
  • Natural Hair: If you have never undergone chemical treatment, neutralizing shampoo can be beneficial. It sweeps away excess oil, dust, dirt, and environmental pollutants, leaving your natural hair refreshed and rejuvenated.
Neutralizing shampoo for healthy hair
Neutralizing shampoo for healthy hair

FAQs about neutralizing shampoo

Can I use neutralizing shampoo as a regular shampoo?

Yes, a neutralizing shampoo can be a regular shampoo. Many regular shampoos are neutralizing. They never label them as such. If the ingredients are safe and the results satisfy you, use it like any other shampoo.

Can I use neutralizing shampoo daily?

No, do not use a neutralizing shampoo after every hair wash. Only use it after a chemical treatment, such as a relaxer. 

Do you have to use neutralizing shampoo after a relaxer?

Yes, you must use a neutralizing shampoo after a relaxer to remove the traces of it and help the hair return to its pH level.

Can you use neutralizing shampoo after bleaching?

Yes, you can use sulfate-free neutralizing shampoo after bleaching. It helps neutralize the color and prevent it from turning orange or brassy. However, it can be a little drying-so never use it daily.

Do you need neutralizing shampoo after perm?

Yes. You must use a neutralizing shampoo to wash the relaxer or deactivate the relaxing agent. Otherwise, the chemicals will continue relaxing your hair strands, eventually eroding it and resulting in breakage.

Can I use neutralizing shampoo on dyed hair?

Yes, you use a neutralizing shampoo after drying your hair. A neutralizing shampoo restores the natural pH balance of your hair.

Does neutralizing shampoo strip hair dye?

You can use a neutralizing shampoo after hair dyeing with permanent or semi-permanent hair dye. It rebalances the pH of your hair and scalp, which is beneficial after hair dyeing. However, using it extensively can lead to stripping off the color.

Does neutralizer shampoo have sulfates?

Many neutralizer shampoos are sulfate-free, while some contain sulfate. So, it is wise to check the ingredients of the neutralizing shampoo you choose.

Do you need neutralizing shampoo after coloring hair?

Yes, you can use a neutralizing shampoo after permanent or semi-permanent color treatment, which is highly alkaline. The shampoo brings back your hair’s natural pH level and prevents further damage from the treatment.

Can you use neutralizing shampoo as a clarifying shampoo?

Yes, you use neutralizing shampoo as a clarifying shampoo. A clarifying shampoo is a neutralizing and concentrated hair cleanser designed to wash away stubborn build-up, excess sebum, dirt, and grime.

Can I use neutralizing shampoo on natural hair?

Yes. You can use neutralizing shampoo on natural hair as a clarifying cleanser. It removes traces of chlorine, sulfates, other harsh chemicals, build-up, excess oil, dirt, and grime from the hair

Final Word: What is neutralizing shampoo and when to use it?

In a nutshell, neutralizing shampoo is your hair’s new BFF no matter you have chemical treated, relaxed or even natural hair. It’s sole purpose is to keep your hair refreshed, clarified and healthy with a balanced pH.This one product has experts and users raving about its transformative power. You can turn heads with it’s health, vibrancy and shine.

However, this hair cleanser can cast an adverse impact with excessive use. It can make hair dry. So, use neutralizing shampoo as directed by your hairstylist or as instructed to ensure optimal result

Anindita Thakur
Anindita Thakur

Anindita Thakur is a beauty writer covering perfume, cosmetics, hair care, and skin care. She holds a B.A. Hons in English, M.A. in English, M.A. in History, and a Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication from Calcutta University. With robust credentials in writing and communications, Ms. Thakur provides engaging articles on beauty trends and tips. Her goal is to educate and inspire audiences on the best products and practices for skin, hair, makeup, and fragrance.

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