Overall hair porosity determines your hair's ability to ABSORB and RETAIN moisture. It will affect how well products interact with the outermost layer of hair, the cuticle. Porosity falls on a spectrum of high, medium, and low.
Low Porosity Traits
Low porosity hair means that the cuticle layers are tightly overlapping. Closed cuticles are prone to product build-up which requires a proper clarifying routine. Humectants and oils that are lightweight and liquid-based can prevent buildup from occurring.
Closed cuticles are almost impermeable to moisture so adding low heat while deep conditioning allows the cuticle to gently lift to absorb moisture.
Medium Porosity Traits
Medium porosity is the best of both worlds. Normal care and moisture/protein balance are easily achieved due to the cuticle's normal alignment. People with normal porosity can focus more on products that better suit their curl pattern and coarseness.
High Porosity Traits
High porosity hair means the cuticle is over porous which allows moisture to easily enter and leave the cuticle. This hair type usually results from chemical/heat damage which is prone to breakage, frizz, and tangling. High porosity hair can also be genetic!
With this hair type, sealing the cuticle is crucial! Using humectants, sealers, and frequent deep conditioning help keep the natural moisture balance. High porosity hair also needs a lot of protein and oil to maintain the strength of hair strands.
How do I know what porosity I have?
At the end of the day, all hair types have the ability to be healthy! Knowing your porosity will help you find the best way to care for your curls, especially when washing and applying products.
There have been a few ways to learn your hair type. Here are 3 ways to learn!
*Disclaimers all hair strands need to be product-free during your assessment
The “Float Test”
By placing a strand of hair in a glass of clean water, your hair will float or sink depending on its porosity. Of course, the closed cuticle will sit on top of the water as moisture isn’t able to penetrate. High porosity hair will also sink straight to the bottom because the cuticles are already lifted and absorb water on contact.
The Direct Water Method
This test will see how fast your hair absorbs moisture. Start by spraying 2-3 pumps of mist to a clean section of hair at a distance. Wait a few minutes to observe the results.
Many visible drops of water that are not absorbed = Low porosity
All water absorbs quickly = High Porosity
Water sits on hair and then absorbs = Normal porosity
The Strand Method
This method allows you to FEEL your hair cuticles. Grab a strand of hair and glide your fingers upwards towards your scalp.
If the strand is smooth = Low Porosity
If the strand is bumpy = High Porosity