Like most people, you probably don’t think about your hair’s porosity very often. But if you want to have healthy and beautiful hair, it’s something that you should know. This article will discuss everything you need to know about hair porosity. We will cover what it is, how to determine your porosity level, and the best ways to care for your hair based on your porosity type. So whether you have high porosity hair, low porosity hair, or somewhere in between, we’ve got you covered! Are you ready to learn more? Keep reading!
What is Hair Porosity?
Hair porosity is essentially a measure of how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture.
If you have high porosity hair, your hair absorbs moisture quickly but makes it challenging to retain it. Rapid water loss can lead to frizzy, dry, and damaged hair.
On the other hand, if you have low porosity hair, your hair has difficulty absorbing moisture but does an excellent job retaining it. This non-absorbent nature can lead to oily, flat, and limp hair.
And finally, if you have normal porosity hair, your hair can absorb and retain moisture relatively well.
Hair porosity is crucial because it affects how well your hair responds to different hair care treatments. If you use incompatible products for your porosity type, your hair can feel dry and experience even more damage.
To better understand hair porosity, it helps to know a little bit about the structure of your hair.
Your hair comprises three main parts: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla.
- The cuticle is the outermost layer of your hair and comprises overlapping scales. It is responsible for keeping moisture in and preventing it from getting out.
- The cortex is the middle layer of your hair, and it’s the source of the majority of your hair’s strength and structure. It contains proteins and pigment (melanin) that give your hair its natural colour.
- The medulla is the innermost layer of your hair, and it’s not always present. When it is present, it’s usually only in thick or coarse hair. It doesn’t play a significant role in the structure of your hair, but it can affect how light reflects off of your hair, which affects its overall colour.
So, how does this all relate to hair porosity? It has to do with the size of the gaps between the scales on your hair’s cuticle.
- Large gaps between the scales mean that moisture can quickly enter and exit your hair. Such hair is what we call high porosity hair.
- Small gaps between the scales mean that moisture has difficulty entering and exiting your hair. Such hair is what we call low porosity hair.
- An average amount of gaps between the scales means that moisture can easily enter and exit your hair. Such hair is normal porosity hair.
Characteristics of Different Hair Porosity Types
Now that you know what hair porosity is let’s take a look at the different characteristics of each porosity type.
High Porosity Hair
- Has raised and open cuticles.
- The hair dries quickly.
- It tends to be dry and frizzy.
- Prone to tangles and knots.
- It may have a coarse or rough texture.
- Requires the use of more products.
Low Porosity Hair
- Cuticles are tightly bound to the cortex.
- It tends to be oily.
- Prone to product build-up.
- The hair takes a long time to dry.
- It appears flat and limp.
- The hair may have a fine or silky texture.
Normal Porosity Hair
- Cuticles are healthy and well-aligned.
- Relatively easy to manage.
- It tends to be neither too dry nor too oily.
- Shiny and healthy-looking.
- Hair has bounce, elasticity and body.
- It may have any texture from fine to coarse.
How to Determine Your Hair Porosity
Now that you know the different characteristics of high, low, and normal porosity hair, you may be wondering how you can determine your own hair’s porosity level.
There are a few different ways that you can do this.
One of the most effective ways to determine your hair porosity level is a strand float test.
You will need a clear glass of water and a clean strand of your hair to do this test.
First, put the strand of hair in the glass of water, let it soak for about five minutes and then observe it. If the strand of hair:
- Floats, then you have low porosity hair.
- Sinks, then you have high porosity hair.
- Floats somewhere in the middle of the glass; you have normal porosity hair.
The Spray Bottle Test
The spray bottle test is another quick and easy way to test your hair’s porosity.
You will need to leave out a test sample of a section of your hair and a spray bottle filled with water to do this test.
You should do this test on clean and dry hair.
First, wet the section of hair with the spray bottle and then observe it. If the strand of hair:
- Absorbs the water quickly, then you have high porosity hair.
- It takes a while to absorb the water (with visible drops of water sitting on the hair), then you have low porosity hair.
- Absorbs the water somewhere in the middle, then you have normal porosity hair.
The spray bottle test is less effective than the float test because it can be challenging to get an accurate reading. However, it’s still an excellent way to get an idea of your hair porosity.
The Slip n Slide Test
First, take a strand of your clean, dry hair and slide your fingers up the shaft (from the tip to the scalp).
If your hair feels:
- Rough or resistant, it is high porosity hair.
- Slippery and smooth, it is low porosity.
- Somewhere in between, it has average porosity.
Another way to determine your hair porosity is simply looking at your hair. If it tends to be:
- Frizzy, dry, and damaged easily, you likely have high porosity hair.
- Oily, flat, and limp, you likely have low porosity hair.
- You likely have normal porosity hair somewhere between these two extremes.
How to Care for High Porosity Hair
High porosity hair can be tricky to take care of, but it can be manageable with the right products and techniques.
Here are a few tips on how to care for high porosity hair:
1. Use pre-shampoo treatments: These treatments can help add moisture and hydration to the hair before shampooing. Since high porosity hair absorbs water quickly, pre-shampoo treatments such as oils or masks can be particularly beneficial.
2. Be careful not to over-wash: Over-washing high porosity hair can strip it of its natural oils, leading to dryness and frizz. When washing your high porosity hair, use a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner.
3. Use moisture-rich products: When choosing products for high porosity hair, look for ones that contain moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin, panthenol, and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients will help add moisture to the hair and make it feel softer and smoother.
4. Use protein treatments: Protein treatments can help repair and strengthen high porosity hair. They fill in the gaps in the hair shaft and help to prevent future damage. Look for products that contain hydrolyzed protein or keratin.
5. Try the LOC/LCO methods: The LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method is excellent for adding and sealing moisture in high porosity hair. The LCO (leave-in, cream, oil) method is also effective. To use either of these methods, apply a leave-in conditioner to damp hair and then seal the moisture with a cream or oil.
6. Wear protective styles: since high porosity hair has a weak cuticle layer, it can be susceptible to damage. Wearing protective styles such as braids, twists, and buns can help to protect the hair from damage.
7. Avoid heat styling: High porosity hair is more prone to heat damage, so it’s essential to be careful when using heated styling tools. If you use heat, use a heat protectant and avoid excessive heat.
How to Care for Low Porosity Hair
If you have low porosity hair, there are a few things that you can do to help take care of it.
1. Clarify your hair: Low porosity hair can be prone to build-up, so it’s essential to clarify your hair regularly. Using a clarifying shampoo will help remove any build-up and allow your hair to absorb products better.
2. Deep condition with heat: Since low porosity hair has a tight cuticle layer, it can be difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Deep conditioning with heat can help open up the cuticle layer and allow water to enter the hair.
3. Use light water-based products: When choosing products for low porosity hair, look for light and oil-free ones. Heavy products, such as creams and butters, can weigh down low porosity hair and make it feel greasy.
4. Avoid protein treatments: Protein treatments can worsen low porosity hair. They do so because protein can further seal the cuticle layer and make it even more difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair. If you use a protein treatment, follow up with a deep conditioner.
5. Steam your hair: Steaming your hair is a great way to add moisture to low porosity hair. The steam will help open up the cuticle layer and allow the hair to absorb moisture better.
6. Avoid silicones and mineral oils: Silicones form a hydrophobic barrier on the hair that can prevent moisture from entering. Mineral oils can also build up on the hair and make it feel greasy. If you have low porosity hair, avoid products that contain these ingredients.
7. Use the greenhouse effect: It imitates a greenhouse where heat and moisture are trapped inside, allowing the hair to absorb moisture. Apply a leave-in conditioner or oil to damp hair and cover your hair with a plastic cap. The heat from your head will help open up the cuticle layer and allow the moisture to enter the follicle.
FAQs on Hair Porosity
What defines your hair porosity?
The main factor determining your hair’s porosity is the genetic structure of your hair cuticle. You may have high, low, or normal porosity hair, depending on your genes.
Can I change my hair porosity?
Yes and no.
You can’t change the genetic structure of your hair, so you can’t change your natural hair porosity as it grows from your scalp.
However, you can temporarily use different treatments to alter your hair’s porosity.
For example, if you have high porosity hair, you can use a protein treatment to temporarily “seal” the cuticle and make your hair appear more like low porosity hair.
Further, some factors can alter your hair’s porosity, including:
- How often do you use heat styling tools (blow dryers, flat irons, hair curlers, etc.)
- How you protect your hair from the sun, UVA and UVB rays
- Whether you colour or bleach your hair
- Use of chemicals and hair relaxers
Such factors damage the hair cuticle layer, leading to high porosity hair.
What is the best hair porosity?
There is no “best” hair porosity. Each type of porosity has its advantages and disadvantages.
For example, high porosity hair is more prone to damage, but it’s also more responsive to treatment.
On the other hand, low porosity hair is less likely to be damaged, but it can be more challenging to manage.
The most important thing is to understand your hair porosity type and how to care for it.
Why Does Hair Porosity Matter?
Hair porosity is crucial because it affects how your hair responds to treatments and products.
- For example, if you have high porosity hair, you may need to use different products than someone with low porosity hair.
Further, understanding your hair porosity can help you troubleshoot issues with your hair.
- For example, if you’re struggling to get your hair to hold a curl, it may be because you have low porosity hair.
In general, it’s good to understand your hair porosity to better care for your locks.
Porosity measures how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture.
There are three levels of porosity: high, low, and normal. High porosity hair absorbs moisture quickly but has difficulty retaining it. Low porosity hair has a tight cuticle layer that makes it difficult for water to enter the hair shaft. Normal porosity hair is somewhere in between high and low porosity.
There are a few things that you can do to care for each type of porosity.
If you have high porosity hair, you should use protein products to help “seal” the cuticle layer.
And if you have low porosity hair, avoid products that contain heavy creams, silicones and mineral oils.
You can also use steaming and the greenhouse effect to help your hair absorb moisture.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about hair porosity. You can tailor your hair care routine to better suit your hair type by understanding your hair porosity.
And remember, if you’re not sure what your hair porosity is, you can always ask a professional.
Take the time to learn about your hair and what products work best for you. Your hair will thank you for it!