If you are new to the natural hair community you may have heard the term ‘hair porosity’ and wondered what it means. Hair porosity is about your natural hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. High porosity hair does not retain moisture as well as lower porosity hair. Understanding your hair porosity is an important factor in managing your curl type with the proper products. Your hair’s porosity is mostly due to genetics, but genetics is not the only factor. Using harsh products, heat, straightening, over-washing, and bleaching can all damage your hair over time and increase your hair porosity.
Type of Hair Porosity
Porosity can be broken down into three categories:
Low Porosity Hair
Low porosity hair has cuticles that are tightly packed together. Lower porosity hair prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, for example, conditioners, oil, etc.
Traits of low porosity hair:
- Repels water and moisture
- Takes a longer time to air dry
- Product built-up, hair products tend to sit on your hair rather than absorb
- Hair is hard to color
How to care for low porosity hair?
- Shampoo – Use products that contain glycerin or honey. Glycerin is a humectant. It can pull in moisture from the air, it can easily penetrate the hair cuticle keeping it hydrated and healthy.
- Conditioner – Use a diluted conditioner with ingredients like water or milk which can make the conditioner more easily to absorb.
- Use heat from a plastic cap or low heat hairdryer when you condition your hair so moisture can penetrate.
- Styling – Use Butter Cream to lock in moisture from the root to the tips of every strand of hair
Normal/Medium Porosity Hair
Medium porosity or normal hair has cuticles that are loosely packed together. Normal or medium porosity hair is easier to maintain because it allows moisture to penetrates with ease. And also retain moisture for a longer period of time.
Traits of normal/medium porosity hair:
- looks healthy and shiny
- doesn’t take long to air dry
- absorb moisture easily
- is easier to color
- is easy to style, and hold styles longer
How to care for normal/medium porosity hair?
- Shampoo – Use a light sulfate-free shampoo to make sure your hair is balanced
- Conditioner – Treat your hair with a light conditioner or co-wash to keep your hair healthy
- Styling – Use products that further nourish your hair, like creams or leave-ins
High Porosity Hair
Hair with high porosity has cuticles that are far apart. High porosity allows moisture to be absorbed into the hair shaft very quickly, yet isn’t able to retain the moisture long enough to nourish and moisturize your hair.
Traits of High porosity hair:
- subject to breakage
- tangles easily
- feels very dry
- looks dry
- air dries very quickly
- tends to be frizzy
- barely looks shine
- absorbed water/products quickly
How to care for high porosity hair?
- Shampoo – Use a silicone-free shampoo and also contain shea butter to repair and deeply moisturize your strands
- Conditioner – use a hydrating conditioner that is silicone-free also contain butter and oils to seal in the moisture and provide your hair with a protective layer
- Deep Conditioner – add deep conditioner into your weekly routine to help strengthen your strands. Use products that provide moisture but are lightweight
- Styling – Use products that can protect your hair from further damage and stay away from heat styling
How you can do a porosity float test at home?
The most commonly known test is the float test.
Porosity Test & Results
- With freshly washed hair
- Take a few strands of hair from a comb or brush and drop them into a bowl or clear glass of water
- Wait for a few minutes
- Observe how quickly your hair sinks to the bottom of the bowl/glass
- Hair strands sink rather quickly to the bottom of the bowl/glass – You Have High Porosity Hair
- If your strand floats in the middle of the bowl/glass for a while before sinking to the bottom – You have Normal/Medium Porosity Hair
- If your hair floats on top of the bowl/glass for some time before slowly sinking – You have Low Porosity Hair
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