Hair Porosity: What Is It and Which Type Do You Have?
Now, more than ever, I feel like more and more people are talking about hair porosity. What is it? What porosity do I have? What are the best hair products for hair porosity levels? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, look no further because we’re here to help! Let’s start with a breakdown of what porosity is: porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. The cuticle, which is the flexible outer layer of your hair, determines how easily moisture can pass through your hair. Porosity is mostly caused by genetics, however, things such as chemical processing, heat processing and environmental factors can change the porosity of your hair.
How to Determine Your Porosity
Perform a Hair Assessment Test
Answer the following questions:
- Does your hair take a long time to get wet or to absorb water?
- Does your hair take forever to dry?
- Do you often feel like products just sit on top of your hair rather than absorb readily?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of these questions, you likely have low porosity hair. In low porosity hair, the cuticle layer (the flexible outer layer of your hair) is tightly packed and so it doesn't allow moisture to rush in easily. This is why it may feel like it takes a long time for your hair to feel saturated when water or product is applied. Once water does enter the hair strands, it doesn't escape easily because of how tightly packed the outer cuticle layer is, hence the reason it may take the hair a long time to dry.
On the other hand, if you answered no to 2 or more of the questions above, you likely have high porosity hair. In high porosity hair, the cuticle layer isn't tightly packed. There are gaps and openings through which water can easily enter and escape. As a result, water and product absorb very quickly but also dry out quickly as well.
Other methods that can be used to help determine porosity along with the hair assessment test are the Float Test and the Slip’n’Slide Test.
The Float Test: Start by taking a few strands of clean shed hair from your head and drop them into a bowl or cup of room temperature water. It's important that you use clean strands as hair with product on it could yield incorrect results. After putting the strands on top of the water, observe what happens for about 10 minutes. If you see that the hair strands are still floating after 10 minutes, you have low porosity hair. If the hair sinks quickly to the bottom, you have high porosity hair. Medium porosity hair will sink at a steady pace, not too quick and not too slow.
The Slip’n’Slide Test: Begin by taking a strand of hair and sliding your fingers up the shaft of your hair, towards your scalp. If your hair feels bumpy, your cuticles are lifted meaning you have high porosity hair. If the strand is smooth, you have low porosity hair.
So Now You Know Your Porosity Type
So now that you’ve figured out your porosity type, what steps should you take to make sure your hair gets the right amount of moisture?
Low Porosity: Low porosity hair is usually considered pretty healthy hair, and is often very shiny. This is because the cuticle layer is tightly bounded with overlapping scales that lay flat. Low porosity actually tries to resist moisture when you wet it or apply products so deep conditioning with heat helps to open up the cuticle layer allowing low porosity hair to better absorb moisture and products.
Low porosity hair is also more susceptible to build-up from protein rich products, which may leave the hair feeling straw-like and stiff. Instead of overloading your hair with protein, try using moisture rich products such as Kinky Tresses Avocado Infusion Hair Milk and Kinky Tresses Coconut Mango Hair Butter. The hair milk and hair butter absorb easily and are formulated to moisturize and nourish the hair while bringing out a lustrous shine.
Medium Porosity: Medium porosity hair requires the least amount of maintenance. The cuticle is looser, which means enough moisture is able to penetrate your hair while also stopping too much moisture from escaping. Medium porosity hair tends to hold styles well. If you do have medium porosity hair, make sure that you are being careful when doing any sort of color or chemical treatment. These treatments can end up damaging your hair and increasing your porosity.
Since medium/normal porosity requires the least amount of maintenance, incorporating a deep conditioning treatment a few times a month should suffice.
High Porosity: As stated earlier, high porosity hair can be caused genetically or can result from rough treatment of your hair, chemical processing or even from the environment (sun, pollution). Because the cuticle layer has many gaps and openings, activities such as swimming, bathing and even shampooing too often can create more breakage and damage because of the high degree of moisture that high porosity hair can absorb. Too much moisture can lead to hygral fatigue, a phenomenon where excessive moisture causes the hair strands to swell, weaken and lose elasticity. The moisture that enters escapes just as quickly leaving the hair frizzy, dry and brittle.
If you have high porosity hair, it is important to have a good moisture protein balance. Hydrolyzed protein like those found in a balanced conditioner like Kinky Tresses Restorative Conditioner help to reinforce the cuticle layer. This will prevent the hair from taking on excessive amounts of moisture but also allowing it to retain some moisture. The great thing about a balanced conditioner is that it has the perfect balance of moisture and protein which makes it perfect for weekly deep conditioning.
Water based creams and butters are also great options for high porosity hair! Using the LOC method in between wash days with rich nourishing products like Kinky Tresses Moisture Max Bundle will protect your hair from losing too much moisture.
We hope that these tips made finding and managing your hair porosity easier! Let us know in the comments what porosity type you have. For more tips click here or keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram.