What is Hair Porosity?A lot of people are talking about hair porosity these days in the natural world. What is it exactly?
Porosity is a measurement of your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. You can also think of it as indicating how easily moisture can penetrate your hair. Porosity is determined by the structure of your cuticle- the outer layer of your hair. Low porosity hair has a tightly bound cuticle layer, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate (but also difficult for moisture to escape, once it’s in your hair.) On the other hand, high porosity hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle, allowing moisture to easily pass in and out. Porosity is determined by genetics but can be altered by external factors like heat and chemical processing.
How do I determine my Hair Porosity?
Porosity is very simple to determine: there are three tests you can do right now!
Check out our Youtube video on hair porosity now available on our channel @EnekaElements.
The Float Test: Take some strands of hair from your brush or comb (note: use clean hair! Hair products can alter your results), and drop them in a bowl of water. Let them sit for a few minutes. If your hair floats after the time is up, you have low porosity. If it sinks, you have high porosity. (It may float somewhere in the middle of the bowl if you have medium porosity.)
The Slip ‘n Slide Test: Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up it, toward your scalp. If you feel small bumps along the way, you have high porosity. If the shaft is smooth, your cuticle is bound tight and you have low porosity hair.
The Spray Bottle Test: Take a small section of your hair and mist it with a spray bottle. Watch closely: if the water beads up on your hair, it is low porosity. If it absorbs quickly, your hair is high porosity. If you notice the water sitting on your hair for a couple of minutes before absorbing in, you have medium porosity hair.
I FOUND OUT MY HAIR POROSITY, NOW WHAT?
Low Porosity Hair is moisture-resistant this means that it may be hard to get moisture into your hair, but once you do, you don’t need to worry as much about your hair drying out. Your curls can also be prone to product buildup, especially from protein-rich products.
What to use:
Protein-free daily conditioners with humectants (products that attract moisture) like honey, Aloe or glycerin.
Moisture-rich products such as jojoba oil, Argan Oil, Shorea Butter, Shea butter, coconut oil.
Lighter or liquid-based products will help avoid product build-up.
Medium Porosity Hair has a looser cuticle layer, allowing for a steady but moderate flow of moisture in and out of your hair. Medium porosity stands up well to styling, coloring, and chemicals- which means you should be careful! Frequent treatment can slowly increase the porosity of your hair, making it more difficult over time to maintain such styles and treatments.
What to use:
Avoid protein in your daily regimen.
Deep condition periodically with a product that does include protein.
High Porosity Hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle layer, which allow moisture to pass quickly in and out. This can lead to frizz and tangling in humid weather, and extreme dryness in dry weather. You’ll need to be careful with activities like swimming or bathing that involve a lot of moisture getting into your hair since this can cause breakage.
What to use:
Anti-humectants, especially when it’s humid, will seal your cuticles and prevent them from absorbing too much moisture. (Ex: raw shea butter, coconut oil, Extra virgin olive oil, Cocoa Butter)
Leave-in conditioners and moisturizers will provide your hair with moisture through the day, but use a sealer such as Avocado Oil to retain moisture and prevent dryness.