HeyTresses! Have you ever watched your favourite YouTuber use a hair product with magical results; you swore they have your hair type so you decided to try the same product but… it was a fail?!?! Hair porosity!!!
That’s right! This difference in experience is most likely due to a difference in your hair porosity compared to hers.
Following on from my previous post, hair porosity is a less visible hair characteristic. It also happens to be the most important one to pay attention to as a coily, curly or wavy natural in order to succeed in your natural healthy hair journey.
So what is hair porosity?
This is your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. It depends on the structure of the outer layer of your hair (also known as cuticles); and how they lie along your hair shaft. Cuticles serve as the protective barrier for your hair shaft.
Porosity is genetically determined but can be altered by external factors; such as heat from styling or chemical processing (relaxers, texturizers, dyes etc).
Why is it important?
This determines how your hair reacts with water and hair products. In other words, hair porosity determines how moisturised your hair can get without putting extra effort in your technique. A well-moisturised hair is one of the important qualities of a healthy hair; maintaining a healthy hair will inevitably contribute to length retention which then leads to a visible increase in hair length.
“Just to clarify, I’m not talking about hair growth. Your hair is always growing; however, you may not see the increase in length due to a lack of length retention (I can touch on this on another post)“.
There are 3 types of hair porosity:
Genetically determined, each porosity level has its challenges. No hair porosity is bad but hair damage could alter your hair porosity which then becomes bad. The most important thing is to recognise which applies to you so you know what you’re working with.
Hair with low porosity has its cuticles layered tightly, as a result, it is:
- difficult to absorb moisture (moisture resistant) making it prone to dryness and breakage.
- holds onto moisture for longer once absorbed, leading to a longer drying time after washing
- prone to developing product buildup
Low porosity in relation to moisture = poor absorption but good retention once absorbed.
Here the cuticles are layered a bit loosely than in low porosity, as a result, it:
- easily absorbs moisture
- holds on to enough moisture but dries reasonably fast
- barely has any issue with product build up
Medium porosity in relation to moisture = good balance of absorption and retention.
Cuticles are flared or raised. This causes areas of exposure of the inner portion of the hair shaft. High porosity can also be genetically determined however, sometimes it is caused by external damage to the hair from, UV light, heat damage, chemical processing (as mentioned above) etc.
Common characteristics of high porosity hair are as follows:
- easily absorbs moisture
- easily loses moisture leading to very short drying time
- Not much issues with product build up
High porosity in relation to moisture = good absorption but poor retention.
So how do I determine my hair porosity?
There are few simple tests you could apply at home by yourself to determine your porosity level but ultimately you just need to observe your hair closely over time and see how it reacts with hair products. For whichever test you apply, it is “important to test on clean hair without any products – not even conditioner”, otherwise, you could potentially mis-identify your porosity level.
test for hair porosity on freshly washed hair without products on it.
1. FLOAT TEST
Take clean strands of hair from your comb or any shed hair you see in the bath after your wash day. Drop them in a glass of “room temperature” water and let is sit for a few minutes (up to 10 – 15 mins, although you might not need 15 mins if you have very high porosity hair).
After the time is up:
- Low porosity hair floats on top of the water.
- High porosity hair sinks to the bottom.
- Medium/normal porosity hair will float somewhere in the middle of the glass or could potentially sink but not as fast as high porosity hair would.
2. SPRITZ TEST
Take a small section of your “dry hair” and spray room temperature water, saturating the hair and watch how fast it absorbs the water
- Low porosity hair will have the water beaded up on the strands
- High porosity hair will absorb the water immediately and become frizzy.
- Normal porosity hair will absorb the water and the coils/curls will become a little more defined
3. SLIP AND SLIDE TEST
I find this one very subjective and I’d generally not rely on it but just for completion I’ll describe it as well.
Take a strand of your freshly-washed-no-product hair and slide your fingers upwards towards the scalp. If you feel little bumps you have high porosity hair, if the strand feels smooth you have low porosity hair. There’s unfortunately no clear cut description to know if your hair is medium porosity with this method.
Put your hair to test! Take a moment now to figure out your hair porosity.
Now I know my hair porosity, what’s next?
I’m glad you asked!
It’s time to pick your products based on your porosity level to maximise the benefit from your products.
Remember, hair porosity is much more important than hair type /curl pattern and there are no good or bad porosity levels. You just need to know what you’re working with.
Contact me for a personalised step by step guide on how to choose your hair products?
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magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!
This post includes so much more info than other people, and it’s immensly helpful to me. Will be returning to read future writing from you! can I share this?