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What You Should Know About Your Hair's Porosity

Updated on August 13, 2014
My sister and I!
My sister and I!

Heads of hair are like snowflakes, none of them are alike. Some people may even find that within their own head there are different textures of hair.

For instance, In the front of my head I have curls that are looser that in the back. I even have an identical twin sister who's hair is different from mine.

Hair is affected by many things and this article may help us understand those variables.

Porosity the Peep Hole to Your Hair's Soul

Have you ever wondered why your hair frizzes so much? Have you ever wonder why it takes your hair so long to dry?

Porosity may be the answer!

Learning about our hair's porosity level can help us understand what products and what styles are ideal.

Our hair has soul and we need to feed it! Learning about porosity will help you do just that!

What is Porosity?

It is the amount of holes or cracks within an object. For hair it is the amount of water your hair accepts and releases based on how the cuticle lies.

The cuticle is what protects the hair shaft and determines porosity.

Hair can have high porosity, low porosity and even medium porosity. This is all determined by genetic and how you care for your hair.

Also note that your hair's porosity can not be changed from high to low but it can go from low to high from damage.


High Porosity

When hair is highly porous, that means it is freely open. The cuticles on each hair strand remain open, allowing water to enter and exit freely.

This hair type is hard to keep moisturized because of it's ability to lose moisture. At the same time it is easy to get water into each strand; it's just a matter of keeping it there.

Frizz happens easily and if you have curly hair, it is hard to keep straight due to it's nature of willingly accepting moisture.

Having this type of hair isn't always favorable for this reason.

My hair is very porous and I have a difficult time styling. What works for me are wash n go's, flexi rod, and curl formers.

When I set my hair while wet and allow it to dry completely, I usually have no problems. When I want a change from my wash n go, curl formers and rollers are my best friend.

It is very difficult for me to keep stretched styles, and straight styles. I also stay away from braid outs.

These are just my personal preferences and not every person with extremely porous hair have the same issues.

Also with this type of hair you can get away with heavy products. They will be absorbed easily filling in the open holes and spaces.

If your hair is very porous, here are a few things you can do:

  • Rinse your hair with cold water to try and seal the cuticles.
  • Use a pH balancing conditioner to try and seal the cuticles.
  • Use anti-humectants to prevent moisture absorption from the environment.
  • Use a medley of products to layer on your hair to prevent moisture loss such as, leave in conditioners, leave in sprays, and oils.

Highly Porous or Highly Damaged?

Sometimes high porosity is caused by heat styling, hair dying, chemical use, high manipulation and even the environment.

If you notice you have hair that is highly porous, examine why this maybe. Sometimes it is just genetic and there's no way around it.

Other times it's because of the way the hair is manipulated and styled.

If this is the case, your hair may not really be highly porous and you can fix the damage. To do this, just simply stop what is cause the damage. Too much heat? Try letting your hair grow out naturally and use setting techniques that don't require heat.

Too many chemical? Try the same solution that I gave for too much heat styling.

Low Porosity

When hair has low porosity, it's cuticles lay flat. That means it is difficult for it to accept moisture but once that moisture is in the hair strand, it is there to stay. It's also pretty shiny.

This is pretty cool because this hair type keeps it's moisture.

The big question is, how can this type of hair actually receive moisture if the cuticles are closed?

Cuticles are easily opened with heat. I would recommend doing a heated deep condition before and after washing.

Doing this before washing will allow the cuticle to open safely so that dirt and old products can be removed and water can enter each shaft. Doing the heat treatment after washing will allow the conditioner to be absorbed into the hair.

Once this is done, rinse the hair with cool water to reseal the cuticle and then style normally.

Things to consider with this hair type:

  • Products build up easily.
  • Too much protein can cause a brittle and stiff feeling.
  • Heavy products will sit on top of the hair and won't be absorbed.
  • Humectants are great to help attract moisture.

Medium Porosity

This hair type enjoys the best of both worlds. It's cuticles are just right, allowing and releasing just the right amount of moisture. With this hair type, there aren't many worries in the area of styling either.

If this hair type is curly, it normally appears shiny and soft. It also straightens pretty easily.

You can use almost any type of product with this hair, although you may want to limit the amount of protein.

Frizz is also not a big issue.

Because styling for this hair texture is almost effortless, it is important to be gentle to prevent increasing it's porosity.

Class Is In Session: Check Out This Youtuber!

Porosity and How it Affects My Hair

Hair isn't just hair and it doesn't do whatever it wants. It reacts to the environment it's placed in! I used to get so frustrated with my hair, wondering why I couldn't achieve the style I did just a few days ago.

I thought my hair just did what it wanted but after learning about porosity, I understand why somethings happen.

Sometimes my styling products are just right to seal in the extra gaps and keep moisture in. Other times it isn't so my style doesn't come out the same.

I love wash n go's because my hair stays soft, shiny and moisturized. Because I have high porosity hair, I use a very heavy conditioner right when my hair is still soaked.

My new favorite conditioner is the Cantu Leave In Conditioner.

It provides hold better than gel and it doesn't flake or make my hair crunchy.

If I could have things my way, I would want low porosity hair. I just love the idea of unlimited shine and moisture.

Of course, this is not possible and I am learning want works for my extremely curly, highly porous hair!

It's actually not that bad once I took the time to understand what to do.

Use a Glass Cup for the Water Test
Use a Glass Cup for the Water Test | Source

It's Time to Weigh in...

How Porous is Your Hair?

See results

How to Determine Your Hair's Porosity

The Water Test

The water test is simply taking a strand of hair and submerging it in a bowl of water.

If the hair:

  • Sinks to the bottom - It's High Porosity
  • Floats in the Middle - It's Medium Porosity
  • Floats right on the surface - It's Low Porosity

This is such a cool and easy technique. Right way you can see what your hair does and immediately start taking care of your hair's needs.

Also if you just pay attention to the way you hair looks and how it responds to products and styling, you'll be able to see how porous your hair is.

The water test is more fun though!


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      January 3 years ago

      How neat! Is it really this siempl? You make it look easy.