Do you truly understand how hair moisture works? Do you know why or why not certain products work on your hair? Hair porosity is extremely important in understanding how well or how terribly your hair absorbs or rejects moisture. It explains how your hair will need to be moisturized and cared for. Knowing your hair porosity will save you time searching for the “perfect” hair product. It’s not all about the products, it’s about knowing what will allow your hair to be as moisturized and healthy as possible.
Hair porosity check: Take a strand of freshly washed hair and place it in a cup of water. If the hair sinks to bottom, you have high porosity hair. If the hair sits in middle of glass, you have normal porosity hair. If the hair stays at the top you have low porosity hair
What does high porosity mean?
This is often a result of damage (previous chemicals or harsh use of heat). The hair cuticle has “gaps” or holes in it that allow moisture to quickly absorb into the shaft. However, because the hair is heavier when wet, this can lead to breakage and extremely weak strands.
Think of it as a sponge with added holes in it! A sponge already has tiny holes in it that allow it to absorb moisture. Imagine adding large holes with a knife. The sponge would be soaked in a matter of seconds!
Characteristics of high porosity hair
- Hair absorbs moisture quickly- so fast that it almost sucks it all up immediately
- Dries very rapidly
- Products absorb very fast
- Hair soaks up water fast
How to care for high porosity hair
- Protein treatments and deep conditioning is a must! Your hair needs TLC and it will get it this way. Greek yogurt is an inexpensive and great deep conditioner.
- Detangle on dry hair. Because your hair has low elasticity with the weight of all of the water when you have freshly washed it, your hair will be prone to more breakage! Pull it into bantu knots or a bun and allow it to fully dry. Detangle on dry hair using lots of oils for slip.
- Finger detangling is awesome for high porosity hair. It will help to reduce breakage and decrease the amount of hair loss from detangling with a comb.
- Use minimal to no heat.
- Layer products for optimal moisture. Do use a heavier leave in conditioner and do use a butter or heavier oil. Shea moisture curl enhancingsmoothie is an awesome butter!
- Moisturize often! Sometimes it will need to be twice a day
- Acidic products are great for closing the hair cuticle so that it can retail moisture. An apple cider vinegar rinse is perfect for this.
What does normal porosity mean?
Your hair can easily absorb and retain moisture because products can pass into the hair shaft through the cuticle and the cuticle will close just enough to retain the moisture. If you notice in the image to the left, there is a slight lift in the cuticle. Its the perfect combo for moisturized, and shiny hair.
So if your hair falls into this category, no worries here. Your hair doesn’t need any special treatment. You are blessed, friend!
What does low porosity mean?
This is when your cuticle is very compact and does not allow moisture to pass through to the shaft easily. Hair is subject to rejecting products because the hair cannot absorb them, and it is also more prone to product build up because products tend to sit on top of the cuticle.
Think of it as a pumice stone. Have you ever used one in the shower? Well if you didn't notice, it doesn't absorb water. Sure it has those tiny holes in it but they don't absorb water. Instead, the water just runs off of the top and never penetrates. This should give you visual of what low porosity hair is like!
Characteristics of low porosity hair
- Resistant to absorbing moisture
- Takes a long time to dry
- Products seem to just sit on top of your hair
- Hair takes a while to absorb water
How to care for low porosity hair
- Use a steamer or heat when deep conditioning your hair to lift the cuticle so that the moisture can be absorbed. You can use this method if you don’t have a steamer. Or you can heat up your conditioner before applying it to your hair.
- Apply products to your hair when it is damp rather than wet
- Use a detangling comb or brush to distribute product through your hair when it is applied. This is imperative to make sure your hair is absorbing moisture. The tangle teezer is a great detangling tool.
- Get the excess product out of your hair when it is applied. Too much product will make your hair turn white or foamy.
- Smooth products into your hair by sandwiching your hair strands. This helps your hair to absorb the product.
- Open your cuticle after washing with a baking soda treatment (alkaline is a base) and then after you have applied product, seal with an acidic product. I like to use aloe vera gel or juice.
- Oils may not be necessary. If you choose to use them, opt for a lighter oil like grapeseed.
- Bentonite clay based products are great for clarifying. Terressentials is a great product!3
Kendra, which is your hair?
My hair has low porosity!
I did the test and the results are right there to your left. Now, when I first heard about hair porosity I knew for a fact my hair was low porosity because it takes forever to dry, and forever to absorb anything! I have to stand under the water for a good 10 minutes for my hair to be fully saturated and even then it isn't always totally wet.
What has worked for my hair the best? Every single tip listed above. Through trial and error I ended up on the right path. For example, I tend to deep condition with steam. I found that my hair likes that a lot. As much as I love finger detangling, I often find that I need to glide my tangle teezer through my hair to make sure the product is distributed.Of course you know that I love terressentials- which is a bentonite clay based product.
So now you may not have to do as much trial and error as I did. Once you are able to understand where your hair falls, you will be able to pick products and a regimen that best works for you!
What is your hair porosity? What are your favorite products? Do you have any tricks that I may not have mentioned?