Knowing your hair porosity is one of the first and most important steps to understanding your hair. This hair concept is the key to knowing why your hair gets dry or  why it responds to hair products in a certain way. Today, we will be doing a deep dive into hair porosity, what it is and how to use this information to understand how to best treat your hair and perfect your overall hair routine. 

What does hair porosity mean?

In the simplest way possible, hair porosity is your hair’s ability to hold moisture in the form of water, oils, creams and other hair products. Your hair porosity is most affected by the cuticle which is the outermost part of your hair. Cuticles are like doors that open and shut to let moisture in and retain that moisture. 

If your cuticles are too close together, it is hard for moisture to penetrate your hair, making it harder for your hair to get the moisture it needs. If your cuticles are too far apart, you will also have a hard time retaining moisture. 

What are the types of hair porosity?

Low porosity hair. When you have low porosity hair, it is harder for moisture to pass through your hair. You would find that products tend to sit in your hair instead of being absorbed. You will also find that, when you get your hair wet, it is harder for your hair to truly absorb water. And drying? That’s an extreme sport. I have a sister with low porosity hair and I happened to wash her hair last week. Because it was a school night, I had to style it within minutes into a sleek bun. More than 2 days later, when it was time for her to do a protective style, her hair was still damp. So that’s the deal with low porosity. 

Low porosity does not have a specific look. What you may see is that your hair seems weighed down a little when products are added because products are sitting on your hair and not being absorbed in your hair.

Now, how do we take care of low porosity hair? Because it’s harder for your hair to take in moisture, you want to use steam or heat to lift the hair cuticle so that products and moisture can seep in. Also, you want to use products that are water based because oils and heavy creams are most likely going to seal your cuticles. Remember, we spoke about the cuticle being the outer protective layer of the hair so sealing that will work against our efforts to get moisture in. 

Medium porosity hair. Medium porosity hair is sometimes referred to as normal porosity hair. This is the easiest to manage because the cuticles are half open and is able to absorb and retain moisture. Don’t be fooled though, it is very easy for medium porosity hair to get dull and matte if not cared for properly. If you have medium porosity hair, you should remember that too much heat or chemical processing can increase your porosity, so heat, bleach, coloring or relaxers on your hair can cause your porosity to change. 

If you have medium porosity hair, you will find that when water or products are added to it, it easily absorbs the moisture. As said before, it is quite easy to style and manage. It also takes and holds color quite easily. For you to keep medium porosity hair healthy, wash frequently and also add frequent treatments to moisturize and strengthen your hair.

High porosity hair. When you have high porosity hair, your hair finds it easy to absorb moisture but it’s quite difficult to retain moisture. High porosity hair might just be as a result of your genetics or as a result of over-processing of your hair. High porosity hair normally looks and feels dry,  frizzy, tangled and prone to breakage. It also air dries and absorbs very quickly. If you have high porosity hair, you want to steer clear of colouring too often or using too much heat to avoid damaging your cuticle. You also want to repair and sort of reverse the damage to your cuticle especially with the choice of your hair products. Your hair products should include heavier products like oils and butters to seal the gaps in your hair cuticle and provide a protective layer. 

How to test your hair porosity.

 There are three ways to test you hair porosity namely the strand test, the float test and the water strand test. Glow by daye explains this perfectly:

Test #1– Water Spritz Test

Spritz a small section of your hair with water and watch how your hair reacts – does your hair absorb the water quickly (indicating high porosity) or does it remain on top (indicating a low porosity level)?

Test #2– Shedding Hair Test

Another way to check your hair porosity is to drop hair that’s been shed as a result of combing into a glass of water. If it floats, your hair is low porosity. If your hair sinks slowly, it has normal porosity, and if it sinks immediately, your hair is high porosity.

Test #3- Strand Test

Gently stretch a tiny section of curl strands from different areas of your head – front hairline, nape, crown and temple. Place the stretched curl between your thumb and finger and slide it up the hair strand from the tip towards the scalp. If your fingers move easily up the strand and it feels dense and hard, you have low porosity hair. If it feels smooth, you have normal porosity hair. And if the strand feels rough or dry or it breaks, you have high porosity hair.