Truth be told, up until recently I myself have even been confused about hair porosity...
What is it? Do I really need to know about it? Turns out, it can be beneficial to know about for a few reasons. Once you know your hair porosity and use products that cater to it, it can make a lovely difference with how your hair will turn out after styling.
I'm thankful for my friend Sarah, waterlily716 on YouTube, for clearly and simply explaining the whole porosity thing to me and I am here to help teach how to do a porosity test so you can determine yours at home!
Porosity has to do with how the cuticles of your hair strands lie.
There are three levels of porosity. It is a good idea to test several hairs from all around your head because it is common to have several porosity types.
- Low porosity cuticles like pretty flat. moisture has a hard time getting in and out
- Medium porosity cuticles are open a little more, still good. it is practically perfect for allowing moisture to get in and out with ease.
- High Porosity cuticles are very open, and can make the hair feel rough and jagged. Moisture goes in and out continuously.
The Strand Test:
- Collect several strands of hair from all around the head. It is not uncommon for some people to have multiple hair porosities.
- Run the fingers down the strand of hair. You should be able to tell which end of the hair strand is from the root because there will be a small little bulb attached to it, this is the hair follicle.
- The strand should feel pretty smooth without many dents or bumps. This means your hair is low porosity. If it does feel pretty bumpy, it means you have higher porosity.
- If you run your hand down the strand the opposite way (from end to root instead of root to end) and it feels and sounds squeaky, this means you have low porosity. No squeakiness would be you have medium to high porosity.
- It is also not uncommon for the ends of the hair to feel more bumpy and be higher porosity than hair closer to the scalp since the ends of the hair are older and likely have suffered more mechanical and chemical damage.
The Water Test
- Fill a glass (preferable clear/through) with water
- Dunk a strand of hair in the water
- If the hair stays on top and doesn't sink, then you have low porosity hair.
- If the hair sinks within a minute, then you have high porosity hair.
- If your hair does not sink, or only sinks a little bit, this could mean you have normal porosity hair.
Low, Normal, High
Low porosity hair is usually resistant to heat and color styling. This type of porosity has difficulty absorbing moisture into the hair strands. Conditioner usually will just lay on top of the strands and not absorb. You can use steam or heat with your conditioner to help the moisture penetrate better. Low porosity hair also does not like a lot of protein-rich product. Focusing on moisture treatments with heat will held yield the best results for this type. If your hair takes longer to air dry it is probably low porosity.
Normal porosity hair usually does okay with some protein treatments, but in moderation. A good balance of moisture and protein treatments are ideal. It is often said this porosity is the easiest to style and maintain. Normal porosity hair takes less time to air dry
High porosity hair can tend to be damaged and hair a lot of holes and gaps in the hair. High porosity is often color treated, highlighted or chemically altered (think relaxers, straighteners, etc) This type of porosity can really benefit from frequent protein treatments to help repair the hair. If you have high porosity hair, it is also important to incorporate moisture treatments too but you must make sure to seal in the moisture with oils or butter or the moisture can escape, resulting in hair that will feel hard or brittle. High porosity hair can take even less time to air dry because moisture can escape your hair quicker.
To sum it up...
Regardless of what porosity your hair is, I am a firm believe that deep treatments are one of the best things you can possibly to for the health and appearance of your hair. But knowing your specific porosity will help you find once that will work it's best for you. Being high porosity myself, probably due to the fact my hair is color treated, I really appreciate the Naturallycurly.com hair product section and the icons that tell me what brands of deep treatments contains protein which help repair and mend my strands.