What Is Hair Porosity? How to Determine Yours

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Have you been wondering what exactly hair porosity means? Or do you even know what it is but find it hard to determine yours? You don’t have to struggle with that any longer. 

Since you know your hair type, you need to know your hair porosity. Understanding your hair porosity is a crucial step to maintaining its health and vitality.

Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. The porosity of the hair is determined by the external layer of your hair, known as the cuticles. 

The cuticle is comprised of flattened overlapping and physically hard cells that cover the hair cortex. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the intricacies of hair porosity, exploring what it is, and providing valuable insights on determining your specific hair porosity level.

Let’s dive right in!

hair porosity

What is Hair Porosity?

In simple terms, hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. The structure of your hair cuticles determines your hair porosity level. If you have a close/tight cuticle, it’s not easy for water or oil to penetrate the hair. The wider your cuticles, the harder it takes for moisture to be retained. 

Your genetics plays a great role in the type of hair porosity you have. Though genetics is not the only contributing factor, some other factors like sun exposure, hair dye, use of bleach, and excessive use of heat styling can also determine the type of porosity you have.

Types of Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is categorized into three: low porosity hair, medium porosity hair, and high porosity hair.

Low Porosity Hair

If you’re someone with low porosity hair, it’s most likely you notice that your hair:

  • Takes longer time to dry after washing
  • Doesn’t absorb moisture easily due to your hair’s tightly packed cuticle, i.e. it has a low absorption rate.
  • Is prone to product build-up
  • Finds it hard to escape moisture.

Medium Porosity Hair

The medium porosity hair is the normal porosity hair level. It lies in between the low and high porosity levels. You have a medium hair porosity level if your hair:

  • Cuticle is not too tight neither is it too open.
  • Absorbs moisture easily compared to the low porosity hair
  • Maintains and retains moisture for longer periods
  • Can be styled easily without any tangle

While it might be the best porosity level, it is bound to change if not properly taken care of. Beware of excessive heat styling, bleaching, coloring, and chemical processes that may affect your hair porosity level.

High Porosity Hair

The high porosity hair has a wide open cuticle that allows moisture to penetrate easily into the hair. 

However, while this hair absorbs moisture easily, it doesn’t retain moisture. The hair: 

  • dries quickly when washed
  • tends to break easily
  • Easily tangles

How to Determine Your Hair Porosity

The first step to a well-tailored hair care routine is to understand your hair’s porosity. You can either use the strand test, water test, or product absorption test to determine your hair porosity.

Manicure concept. Beautiful woman's hands with perfect manicure at beauty salon. stock photo

The Strand Test

You can run the strand test on the hair using your hand. Just slide your fingers through your hair strands towards the scalp. If it feels smooth with little or no resistance, you likely have low porosity hair. However, if it feels rough and there are some bumps along the way, you have high porosity hair.

The Float Test

Before you start this test, ensure your hair is washed clean as product buildup can alter the test result. 

After washing your hair and it’s dry, fill your glass cup with water. Then you can drop some strands of hair from your brush or comb into the water.

If the hair strand sinks quickly to the bottom of the glass, your hair porosity is high. If it floats on water, you have a low porosity hair. But if the strand stays somewhere in the middle of the glass, you probably have a medium porosity hair.

Hair Porosity Test
image credit: AFAM

The Product Absorption Test

Another way to determine your hair porosity is to check how your hair responds to products. For a low porosity hair, it takes time for your hair to absorb products due to the tight cuticle. The medium porosity hair absorbs and retains moisture easily. However, if your hair absorbs easily and loses the product so much that you have to keep applying it to your hair, you have high porosity hair. 

hair porosity

How You Can Maintain a Proper Hair Care Routine

The key to having healthy hair regardless of your hair porosity is a customized hair care routine to address its specific needs. 

Low Porosity Hair Care Tips

Having low porosity hair doesn’t mean your hair is unhealthy. The hair just needs moisturizing and pampering. 

Low porosity is prone to product buildup as it takes longer to absorb moisture. You should always use protein-free conditioners and look out for ingredients like glycerin and honey in shampoos and conditioners. You can also use moisturizing products that contain hydrating ingredients to add texture to your hair.

Additionally, you can add conditioner to your hair while it’s still wet and cover it with a shower cap for a few minutes. This gives the hair the heat it needs to open up the cuticle for product absorption.

Medium Porosity Hair Care Tips

Although the medium hair porosity is normal, there’s still the need for proper maintenance to prevent damage. It is said that “Prevention is better than cure”.

You should always make use of deep-conditioning products that contain protein. A hydrating leave-in product will also help your hair stay hydrated. 

High Porosity Hair Care Tips

If you have high hair porosity avoid using too much coloring or relaxer on your hair. This causes damage to your hair and raises the cuticle layer. This in turn makes it difficult for your hair to retain moisture but easy to absorb.

The best way to care for your extremely porous curls is to use leave-in conditioners, moisturizers, oils, and protein treatments that nourish and strengthen your hair cuticle. These ingredients will also help repair and keep your hair hydrated.

You should also make use of heat-resistant products on your hair. This helps to prevent any damage heat might cause to your hair. You should refrain from using chemical products that will damage your hair.

Wrapping Up

Taking time to understand your hair porosity level is a pivotal step towards achieving healthy locks. Your hair porosity can be low, medium, or high depending on your genetics and other external factors like ultraviolet exposure, harsh products, blow drying, etc.

Whether you have high porosity, medium porosity, or low porosity hair, you need to take proper care of it to prevent damage. You should use sulfate-free shampoos, deep conditioners that have the right amount of protein, and water-based moisturizers more often. 

Too much UV exposure can affect your hair porosity, so it’s important to protect your curls from the sun. 

Embrace the uniqueness of your hair porosity and let it guide you towards vibrant and well-nourished hair.

Hope you found this content helpful. Do share your thoughts in the comment section. 

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