We all want our curls and coils to look healthy. However, the criterion of healthy hair is often subjective or biased. It is often assumed that shiny hair is healthy hair. But does this apply to all hair porosity? Let's dig a bit deeper.
Curly hair often looks dry" depending on its hair porosity. NaturallyCurly has an amazing hair typing chart that consists of clear information about porosity. To summarize, hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. The porosity of your hair is dependent on the cuticle, the outer layer of your hair. When the cuticle lies flat, this means you have low porosity. When light shines on low porosity hair, it will be easily reflected. Consequently, you hair looks "shiny". Low porosity hair has a great ability to retain moisture; thus, your shine will last for days after cleansing or co-washing and moisturizing.
On the other hand, hair that has high porosity may look dry because of its open cuticles.
The open hair cuticles will not be a flat surface, therefore the hair will be less successful in reflecting light. Consequently, the hair looks dull. Not to forget, medium and high porosity natural hair has more difficulty retaining moisture. Those with these types of hair porosity will often experience their wash and go’s being able to last a few days without looking dry, frizzy, and dull.
Indeed, high porosity might be the result of damage. However, this porosity is also heritable.
In order to emphasize these claims, watch this video recently posted by one of our editors, Nikki. She and Devri have the same hair type (3c). However, Nikki's curls are shinier than Devri's, even though they both have the same curl pattern. They both have different type of porosity, which is due to a number of reasons--Devri has color treated her hair for years, for example. The determining factors don't always depend on chemical or color damage, though. It can also be due to the environment and genetics. Still, both girls are rocking completely healthy curls.
If you want to measure the health of your hair, you can test the porosity quarterly. For instance, you can do a porosity test at the end of every season. In 2014 my hair porosity was high, but I knew that I had bad habits (Continuously dying my hair and skipping deep conditioning treatments). So it was not likely that I inherited this porosity. Two years and a one visit at the hairdresser later the porosity of my hair changed to low porosity.
To conclude, shine is not a direct result of having healthy naturally curly hair.
Curly hair has different hair porosities of which some simply do not have the ability to reflect light and retain moisture. The health of hair can best be accessed by critically reviewing your hair care habits and define whether some of those habits changed the porosity and appearance of your hair over time.