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Whenever I peruse the hair forums there always seems to be at least one thread asking about hair type created by a confused, newly natural who wants to know where to begin. She usually wants to know her hair type or curl pattern so that she can go to the appropriate forum and be with women who seemingly share her hair struggles.

Whenever I see these threads, I cringe because I absolutely abhor, not hate but abhor, the hair typing system where women are placed into categories based on their curl pattern. Not only is it misleading, but it is also divisive. Simply knowing your hair pattern does not help you to weather the storm that is being a newly natural because there are two far more important factors to consider – hair porosity and density.

Porosity

Porosity is the measure of the hairs ability to absorb moisture. To better understand hair porosity, think of your hair strand as the roof of a house and the outer layer or the cuticle as the shingles on the roof. When the shingles lay completely flat, it's difficult for water to enter or exit the hair shaft – this is low porosity hair. If the shingles are completely raised then moisture will easily enter and escape – this is high porosity hair. In normal porosity hair, the shingles or cuticles are neither completely flat nor raised, but at an optimum angle to allow moisture to enter and remain there.

Knowing your hair porosity is far more important than knowing your curl pattern since it will greatly affect your ability to have moisturized healthy looking hair.

For those with low hair porosity, it is imperative that you use lighter more liquid based products that will not just sit on top of your hair making it oily or greasy. Also, you will be able to get away with fewer moisturizing sessions to avoid build up.

However, with high hair porosity that easily loses moisture, layering on products to retain moisture is a necessity. Many high porosity naturals, after washing their hair, apply a leave-in conditioner, then a thick water based moisturizer followed by a heavy butter. By layering your products, you are providing your hair with the moisture it needs from the leave-in and moisturizer, and ensuring that the moisture remains near the hair shaft by using a heavy butter or oil to act as a protective layer to prevent the moisture from being lost to the atmosphere. High porosity naturals may also find it necessary to moisturize often and some high porosity naturals moisturize once or twice daily.

If you have normal porosity hair then count your blessings, listen to your hair’s needs and moisturize accordingly.

Testing for Porosity

In order to find out what your hair porosity is, take a piece of shed hair from your comb or brush. It's important that you get a shed and not broken hair to test. In order to determine if the hair was broken or shed naturally, examine the ends. If you see a little white ball on one of the ends, it means that it was shed. Take the hair and drop it in a glass of water. If the hair immediately sinks it means that it readily absorbed the water and has high porosity. If the hair remains at the top, floating, it means that it is unable to absorb the water and has low porosity. If it floats to the bottom slowly then it has normal porosity.

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no problem bhammett1 glad it helped

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