Adjusting pH

I am not a professional formulator, but have become pretty good at home formulating skin and hair care for my own use over the last couple of years. I have a question about pH. Today I made a hair conditioner using BTMS, cetyl stearyl alcohol, cetac, olivem 300, polyquat 7 and silicones as the main ingredients. Usually the pH sits at around 6.0 but I note from reading this forum that it should be closer to 3.5 - 4.0. Before adding the preservative to this batch I adjusted the pH using citric acid. Unfortunately I completely overshot the mark and it ended up being 3.0 or lower. I use test strips with the four colour indicators. I used to have a meter but it died (perhaps at its own hand after watching my formulating efforts!). I used TEA at 0.3% to bring the pH up to 4.0.  

My question is whether significant variations in pH like this are detrimental to any of the ingredients in a formula. I know that preservatives are an issue but wondered if it otherwise makes any difference as long as the pH ends up where it needs to be. I haven't tried the conditioner yet but the consistency is very nice.

Thanks in advance.


  • Most ingredients have a pH range in which they're stable. Too acidic or basic an environment could risk a reaction or breakdown into another chemical which could ruin your product. As long as you check the pH ranges of your ingredients and any notes from the supplier/manufacturer on pH (and abide by them) you should be fine.
  • Excellent, thanks so much for your reply.
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