(Last Updated On: January 21, 2021)

What is hair porosity and how it affects the cuticles 

If you are curious about your hair, then you must have heard this term, “Hair Porosity” a lot. It is very common to hear people say you need to know your hair porosity before you can retain length and volume, but, what exactly is hair porosity? And why should you concern yourself with it? Hair Porosity is simply the way your hair cuticles absorb and retain moisture.

Our hair absorbs and retains moisture differently. Some people’s hair absorb moisture easily but does not retain it. There are others whose hair doesn’t absorb moisture easily but when it does, it retains moisture for a long time. There are still some others whose hair both absorbs and retains moisture easily. These are known as low, normal/medium and high porosity. They will be explained individually later on.

Your hair strands have three layers in them. These are your hair cuticles, cortex and medulla. The cuticle is the outer part of your hair strands. It is your hair cuticle that receives the moisture that you give to your hair. If your hair cuticles are closely joined, then your hair is unable or finds it very hard to take in moisture. But, if your cuticles are open, then moisture can penetrate your strands.

You can see that moisture, hair cuticles and hair porosity are intertwined in a way. This is why you should find out what your porosity is before deciding on how best to take care of your hair. When you know your hair porosity, you can intentionally maintain the health and length of your hair. Knowing your hair porosity also helps you find the right way to care for your hair. This means that when you are aware of the porosity of your hair, you can then choose products that go well with the cuticles of your strands. Thus, making your hair grow long, strong and healthy. How then can you know your hair porosity?

HOW TO TEST YOUR HAIR POROSITY

Many people are not scientists. So, asking you to check your hair strands under a microscope is completely out of it. But, you can visit a hair salon or a dermatologist to check your hair porosity. Still, it is very easy to check your porosity yourself. You can carry out any of these three simple tests to check what porosity your hair has. They are the float test, slide test and spray test.

FLOAT TEST

You can test your hair by checking how it receives water. This is what the float test is all about. It is in fact the most popular way of testing for hair porosity at home. To carry out a float test, you need to first wash your hair. This is to ensure that your hair is completely free from products. If your hair has products in it, it might give you a different result from your actual hair porosity.

To test for your hair porosity using the floating test, do the following:

  • Cleanse your hair
  • Take a couple of hair strands from your clean hair
  • Fill up a glass or a transparent bowl with room temperature water that is clean
  • Drop the hair strands inside and watch how they react.

If the hair strands sink to the bottom quickly, then you have high porosity. If the hair strands don’t sink at all, then you have low porosity hair. If the hair strands sink slowly to the middle of the bowl or glass, then you have a normal to medium porosity.

SLIDE TEST

The slide test is the easiest hair test. This may be because you don’t need any other thing apart from your hair strands and your sensitivity to touch.

To carry out the slide test

  • Take a small section of your hair in one hand
  • Stretch that section as far as your hand can go to give it a false straight look
  • Use your other hand to hold the tip of that section of hair. You can do this with your thumb and your index finger
  • From the tip, carefully slide your finger up your hair towards your scalp.

If your hair feels rough or bumpy, then you have high porosity hair. If it feels almost smooth, you have normal porosity hair, if it feels very smooth and dense, you have low porosity hair.

SPRAY TEST

This also looks like The float test. The difference is that in one you put hair strands inside a glass of water and in the other, you put the water on your hair. Spray test requires that you spritz your hair with water and observe how your hair reacts to the water.

Using the spray test method, do these steps to find out your hair porosity.

  • Take a small section of your hair
  • Make sure that the rest of your hair is set aside with a clip or a band to avoid confusing yourself
  • Using a spray bottle, spritz some water on your hair
  • Observe how your hair reacts to the water you spritzed on it

Three types of hair porosity

If your hair absorbs the water quickly, then you have high porosity. If your hair absorbs the water slowly, then you have medium/normal porosity. If the hair doesn’t absorb the water at all, then you have low porosity hair.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HAIR

If you have done the porosity test, then you know your hair porosity by now. The next step you need to know is how to take care of your hair porosity type. Every porosity has its own kind of care and that is what you will be seeing next.

Characteristics of low porosity and how to care for it (hair regimen). 

Many people think low porosity hair is in a disadvantaged position. This is not true. Low porosity hair has its cuticles joined in such a way that it is not easy for moisture to penetrate your strands. Nonetheless, this is not a disadvantage. You need to know how to get the moisture in. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of this hair porosity.

  • Products don’t penetrate the hair strands
  • It is hard for water to saturate your strands
  • It takes a long time for your hair to air dry
  • Moisture lasts for a long time on the scalp
  • Has product buildup easily

These signs further confirm that you have low porosity hair. This means that when taking care of your hair, you need to focus more on getting moisture into your strands. To penetrate your hair with moisture, include pre-poo, deep conditioners and heat caps. This is what the hair regimen of a low porosity hair should look like.

HAIR REGIMEN FOR LOW POROSITY

Low porosity hair does not accept products easily. So, if your hair is low porosity, you need to be particular about the products you use on your hair. Products that you use should be the right set for your hair. It might take a while though before you find the right everything for your hair. If you are lucky though, you will find products that your hair loves easily. The basic processes you should do for hair care are

  1. PRE-POO: you do Pre-poo on the hair before wash day. As the name suggests, it is done before shampooing i.e., pre-shampoo. You can do pre-poo with oils, deep conditioners or already made pre-poo treatments. Pre-poo prevents shampoo from stripping the hair completely. This is why it is important to do a pre-poo treatment as a low-porosity because it will lock the moisture in your hair in. If you are using oils, it is more preferable you use hot oils. You can get hot oils from your local beauty stores. You can also make your own penetrating oil hot by doing the double boiling method.
  2. SHAMPOO: There are many good shampoos that you can use to cleanse your scalp as a low porosity. Low porosity hair always has a lot of buildups. Product buildup is something you want to avoid or at most get rid of from time to time. You can shampoo your hair with clarifying shampoos to get rid of all buildup. Also, try not to apply shampoos on hair strands. Let the lather running from your scalp cleanse your strands instead. Shampoos that you can check out include Neutrogena anti-residue shampoo, As I am Curl Clarity Shampoo, Mielle Organics Babassu Conditioning Shampoo, etc. Wash your hair regularly, as often as once in two weeks at most.
  3. DEEP CONDITIONER: After washing your scalp with a shampoo, condition your strands. Conditioners are meant for the hair strands and not for the scalp. So, try to apply to your hair strands only. If you had something to do after washing your hair, and your hair becomes dry a bit, hop into the shower to get it wet again. Conditioners that are preferable for low porosity hair must be lightweight. This is because the heavier the product is, the less it is likely to penetrate the scalp. When using deep conditioners, make use of heat caps too. This ensures that your hair strands get all the goodness from the conditioner and are penetrated by it.

Also, your conditioners should contain moisturizers like Aloe Vera, Shea butter, argan oil, coconut oil, etc. so it can sink deeply into your strands. There is also an issue with protein-based deep conditioners. You can check out conditioners like Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow& Restore Treatment Masque, Eden Bodyworks Deep Conditioner, Shea Moisture Low Porosity Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Protein-Free Conditioner, etc.

  1. MOISTURE: This is where you seal in the moisture for the day. Here, you use a lightweight leave-in conditioner like Shea Moisture Low Porosity Protein Free Leave-in Detangler. Then, you move on to seal with a hair butter or oil that your hair likes. Ensure that the oil you are using is a light penetrating oil. If you are using oil instead of butter, you might want to follow that with a cream. Please use a cream that doesn’t contain paraffin in it.
  2. GREENHOUSE EFFECT: This is a deep moisture treatment method that you should have in your regimen. In the GHE treatment, you moisturize your hair and cover it with a shower cap for about 8-12 hours. You can do this at night or even during the day. If you are doing the greenhouse effect on a day you are going to work, you can cover your shower cap with a fancy scarf. This will generate heat in your hair so that your cuticles open up to allow moisture to penetrate your strands.

Aside from a regular hair regimen, there are basic tips that every low porosity hair should know. Some of those tips are:

  • Look out for products that have natural humectants in them. They attract moisture from the air to your hair. Examples are Aloe Vera, Glycerin, Honey, etc. If a product contains humectants grab it with both hands.
  • Use heat always for conditioning and for treating your hair. Do you know how it is often said that heat can damage one’s hair? Well, not this kind. For low porosity hair, using heat caps or doing the greenhouse effect from time to time can generate heat for the hair. This helps with the penetration of products into the cuticles.
  • Low porosity hair does not take in every protein well. There are some kinds of protein that low porosity hair accepts. When using deep conditioners or protein treatments, use these. They are Hydrolyzed Protein, Silk Protein and Wheat Protein.
  • Don’t wait until your hair is dry to moisturize it. Moisturize your hair at least twice a week to keep it from being dry.
  • Don’t use heavy oils or heavy products. Try grapeseed oil, olive oil, etc. If you must use coconut oil, do this when it is warm and while your cuticles are still open. This means that both the oil and your hair needs heat for coconut oil to penetrate your strands. Otherwise, it will sit on your hair and cause product buildup.
  • Cover your hair every night to avoid losing all the moisture you’ve given to your hair

CHARACTERISTICS OF MEDIUM POROSITY AND HOW TO TAKE CARE OF IT

People who have medium porosity have little worries as regards their hair. If you have medium to normal porosity hair, congratulations. This hair has little or no problem with their hair regimen. This is because low porosity hair has cuticles that are not tightly locked together and are neither open. This makes it very easy to care for. It easily absorbs and retains moisture. If you have normal/medium porosity, your hair should be able to

  • Accept color well
  • Soaks in and retains moisture effortlessly
  • Hold Styles easily
  • Air dry without much quicker that that of low porosity
  • Look healthy and shiny

Normal porosity seems to look like everything good you are looking forward to. However, if you have a normal/medium hair porosity, you need to be careful with chemicals so as not to alter the porosity of your hair. Normal porosity can change to high porosity hair when you use harsh chemicals on it.

HAIR REGIMEN FOR NORMAL POROSITY HAIR

The hair regimen of Normal Porosity hair may look simple because it is easy to maintain. Still, all hair types must be taken care of. This includes Normal porosity hair type too. If you have normal to medium porosity hair, then your regimen should look like this

  1. PRE-POO: Before washing your hair, do your pre-poo treatment using a conditioner or an oil. It is better you do this the night before wash day.
  2. SHAMPOO: You can cleanse your hair with either a clarifying shampoo or moisturizing shampoo. You can interchange between clarifying shampoos and moisturizing shampoos. Some people with Normal porosity hair only use clarifying shampoos after they’ve been on braids. This helps to get all the dirt in their hair out. You should wash your hair every 2 weeks.
  3. CONDITIONER: Like low porosity hair, normal porosity should use deep conditioning treatment as opposed to moisturizing conditioners. Nonetheless, there is no hard and fast rule about it.
  4. RINSES: Rinses can serve as a strengthening treatment for your strands. The normal porosity hair is the best kind of porosity because of the way it absorbs and retains moisture. Still, it can become highly porous over time if it is not well taken care of. Rinses will help to keep the hair strands strong and healthy. Do it after every conditioning treatment and then rinse your hair with cold water.
  5. MOISTURE: Moisturize your hair every three days with a leave-in and butter. You can use oils and creams in place of butter too.

CHARACTERISTICS OF HIGH POROSITY AND HOW TO TAKE CARE OF IT

High porosity hair can either be to genetics or damage of the hair cuticles. Whichever it is, high porosity hair has one general thing it is known for. That is its absorption of moisture. The cuticles of high porosity hair are open, so, it can absorb moisture well. But, the same way it allows moisture penetrates hair strands quickly is the same way it loses its moisture also. Other features to look out for in very porous hair are

  • It gets dry and brittle easily
  • It breaks a lot
  • It absorbs even heavy products
  • It air dries the hair rapidly

natural hair porosity e-book

HAIR REGIMEN FOR HIGH POROSITY

  1. PRE-POO: Every hair needs Pre-poo and high porosity hair is no different. For your hair not to be completely stripped of moisture when shampooing, do a ‘pre-shampoo’ treatment. You can do this with oil and a conditioner. Seeing as moisture penetrates the scalp of a high porosity hair, you can get away with doing a pre-poo, 1-2 hours before you wash your hair. 
  1. SHAMPOO: A high porosity hair hardly has product buildup. This is because it absorbs moisture easily. So, using a clarifying shampoo regularly is not good for your hair. Use shampoos that contain oils and butter. Moisturizing shampoos are the best place to look. Shampoos like this TreSemmé Expert Selection Repair and Protect Shampoo, Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Hydrating Shampoo, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo are good moisturizing shampoos to look out for. You can shampoo your hair once a month.
  1. CONDITIONER: After shampooing your hair, you need to replenish the moisture lost. This is where conditioners come in handy. Moisturizing conditioners are good for porous hair but every once in a while use a deep conditioner too. You can interchange between both of them.
  1. PROTEIN TREATMENT: Protein treatments are strengthening treatments for the hair strands. You should do this treatment at least within the intervals of 6-8 weeks. This will help strengthen the hair strands and keep them healthy.
  1. MOISTURE: Getting moisture into the hair is important for low porosity, but for high porosity, keeping moisture in the hair is more important. With moisture, high porosity hair needs to be heavy-handed. For moisture, use leave-in conditioners and sealants to hold on to moisture for at least three days. Make sure to moisturize your hair 2-3 times a week. 
  1. COWASH: Cowash is like washing your hair. You can cleanse your scalp regularly by cowashing it. Cowash is not as strong as shampoo and not like conditioner also. However, if you don’t have a cowash, you can use a conditioner to do your cowash. This can be done every week.

These tips can also help

  • Use warm water only to wash and condition your scalp.
  • Always use a sulfate-free shampoo
  • Always use a heat protectant on your hair before using any kind of heat.
  • Cover your hair with a saying scarf or bonnet when you are indoors.
  • Keep your hair in protective styles for when you are outdoors.

CAN HAIR POROSITY BE CHANGED

Sometimes, your hair porosity can be a chore to handle especially if you have low or high porosity. You might be wondering now if you can change your hair porosity. The bad news is that you can’t change your hair porosity if it is gotten genetically. Nonetheless, every porosity type can be managed and well taken care of with the right regimen and products.

FACTORS THAT ALTER OR DETERMINE POROSITY LEVEL

It is generally believed that hair porosity is a result of genetics. Going by this, your hair porosity is determined by your genes. This is true. However, your hair porosity can be altered. Hair porosity change is caused by many things. These includes

  • Blow drying
  • Bleaching
  • Straightening
  • Using harsh products like Relaxers
  • Over-washing 

IS 4C HAIR LOW OR HIGH POROSITY

If you have 4C hair, then, you must have seen people with similar hair types. If that be the case, then the odds are that most people you’ve seen have low porosity hair. You might have concluded that your hair is low porosity too. Your hair may be low porosity but it is not determined by your hair type. 4C hair is resistant to products too. This is because of the curl pattern of the hair. So, while most 4C’s have Low Porosity hair, there are the few that have normal to high porosity.

CONCLUSION

Every hair has it’s own needs. This is what makes your hair journey unique and different from others. While it may look like every hair type goes through the same regimen, the kind of products used and the way products are used differs for every hair porosity type.