There are many different ways to differentiate your hair. Most people might make use of the Andre Walker Typing System but there is so much more to that. There are so many different ways to describe your hair. The elasticity, texture, density and porosity of your hair.
Hair Porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb moisture.
Extremely porous hair is typically damaged with the cuticle not completely intact, usually from too much bleaching or over processing from perms or relaxers.
Porous hair absorbs hair chemicals very quickly and can become over process and damaged quickly.
On the contrary, hair that is not as porous does not absorb chemicals very quickly and can be difficult to perm or color.
Knowing your hair porosity will help you determine how much moisture your hair needs on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to achieve the look that you are going for. In addition, you will be better equipped to make decisions regarding your hair products.
So how porous is my hair?
Ready to find out your hair’s porosity? Take a strand of your hair (after gently brushing or finger combing your hair. Please do not pluck it.) and place it in a glass of water. Observe how your strand of hair responds to being immersed in water.
- HIGH POROSITY HAIR will sink quickly to the bottom, therefore it readily absorbs water.
- LOW POROSITY HAIR will take a long time to sink to the bottom of the glass of water, if at all. In this case, the hair is unable to absorb the water.
- NORMAL POROSITY HAIR will sink at a medium pace, not too fast or too slow.
Now that you know about your hair’s porosity, what steps do you need to take to ensure maximum moisture based on your level?
High porosity can be either an inherent property of your hair or the result of damage from chemical processing, rough treatment or environmental damage. High porosity hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle, which allows too much moisture into your hair and leave it prone to frizz and tangling in humid weather.
High porosity hair also has a difficult time holding onto moisture as it easily escapes the raised cuticles. It is important to try to avoid drying detergents and silicones that will further exacerbate the issue.
Tip: Because highly porous hair can also lose moisture easily, it’s important to use leave-in conditioners,moisturizers and sealers. Layering these products will help your hair hold on to the moisture you’re giving it. You can even follow up with a heavy hair butter to help fill the gaps in your damaged cuticles and further protect your hair from losing too much moisture.
Hair with medium porosity often requires the least amount of maintenance. The cuticle layer is looser, allowing just the right amount of moisture to enter while preventing too much from escaping. Hair with normal porosity tends to hold styles well, and can be permed and colored with predictable results. Over time, however, these processes can damage your hair and increase its porosity.
Tip: Shop for moisturizing conditioners, silicone free preferably, that can double as a leave in. Avoid protein heavy conditioners for this purpose, as the residual protein can lead to straw like curls. Add a few natural oils to the mix for sealing your hair.
Low porosity hair is typically much harder to moisturize since it is more difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Prep time is paramount for low porosity curlies. Every step in your daily routine is important and will determine how healthy your hair is. Avoid moisture sapping products, including alcohol based gels, hairspray and mousse.
Low porosity hair is also prone to build-up from protein-rich deep conditioning products, which can leave it feeling stiff and straw-like. Stick to protein-free, daily conditioners with humectants such as glycerin or honey. Use moderate heat with protein-free deep conditioning treatments to help open up the tightly bound cuticle.
Tip: Shop for water based, liquid leave in moisturizers that will moisturize without heaviness. Also, make sure to add a natural oil to your regime. Opt for a light to seal your hair after moisturizing. Heavy oils will be harder to absorb and weighs down your hair.