What Even Is Porosity?!

What Even Is Porosity?!

Hair porosity is a measure of how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. It is affected by the flexible outer hair layer called the cuticle, which determines how easily moisture and oils pass in and out of your hair. Healthy hair utilizes water in a way in which it allows water to pass through, holds it within the strand so the body can utilize it, and then releases it when ready.  There are three main types of hair porosity, but first, let's learn about how to determine your hair's porosity level. Read below to find out what they are and how they determine which products you buy.

How Do I Know My Porosity?

There are two methods you can use to find out how porous your hair is. If you experience product sitting on your hair when you try to apply, you most likely have low porosity hair. If you find that no matter what you do or try, your hair just will not stay hydrated and moisturized, then you most likely have high porosity hair.

1) The Float Test

Take a couple of strands of hair from your comb or brush and drop them into a bowl of water. Let them sit for 2-4 minutes. If your hair floats, you have low porosity. If it sinks, you have high porosity.

 

2) Blurred Lines 

Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up the shaft (toward the scalp). If you feel little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity. If your fingers slip smoothly, then you have low porosity hair.

3) Judge Your Hair's Ability to Take In Water

The best place to do this is inside of the shower. If you find that your hair takes a long time to become completely damp and drenched, than your hair may be on the side of low porosity. If you find that your hair very quickly absorbs the water from your showerhead, you may have medium or high porosity.

 

4) If Your Hair Has Been Coloured or Chemically Altered, You Are Most Likely High Porosity

Colouring and chemically altering the hair is a quick way to determine whether your hair is in a highly porous state. Implement high porosity haircare practices after you colour or chemically alter your hair to maintain its health.

 

LOW POROSITY HAIR

This porosity type is usually genetic, but it doesn't mean that your hair can't get moisture.

Low porosity hair is characterized by extremely tight hair cuticles that are very resistant to opening for water and other forms of moisture, think of the cuticles as shingles on a roof. Curly haired folk with low porosity often complain of products merely "sitting on their hair." This is not typically something that can be reversed or changed, as it is a genetic trait, but it does not mean that your hair can't take in moisture. We just have to help it out a little bit to get it there.

Best ingredients to look for in your products if you have low porosity hair:

Utilize products with humectants.

  • honey
  • aloe vera
  • agave
  • glycerin
  • flower nectars
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • fruit extracts

Utilize product with oils that are lighter in consistency and nature.

  • almond oil
  • jojoba oil
  • grapeseed oil
  • glycerin oil

Best haircare practices to implement if you have low porosity hair:

  • Apply your conditioning products with heat.
  • Use water or cream based products that are lighter in consistency.
  • Ensure your hair is properly cleansed before you apply your hydrating products.

 

HIGH POROSITY HAIR

This porosity type is one that is usually created by bleaching, chemically altering or damaging the strand.

High porosity hair is characterized by the hair cuticle becoming highly raised or even chipped which in turn causes it to quickly absorb moisture. The downside is that because it’s raised and remains raised, you can lose the moisture just as quickly as it was absorbed. Oftentimes this hair type is damaged from harsh chemicals, dye or bleach, high heat, or harsh shampoos that strip the hair. Because the cuticles are aggressively raised, the strands catch onto each other and become easily tangled.

Three groups of ingredients to look for in your products if you have high porosity hair:

  • The first are keratin proteins.
  • The second are water-based ingredients that provide your hair with moisture, such as aloe, fruit extracts, flower extracts, and honey.
  • The third are heavier oils and butters that help to seal in the moisture ad trap it within the highly porous strand where moisture can easily leave, such as shea butter, castor oil, mango butter, olive oil and coconut oil. 

Best haircare practices to implement if you have low porosity hair:

  • Since protein is so essential to rebuilding the hair strand, utilize protein treatments twice a month, and deep condition for moisture twice a month.
  • Try to utilize lighter, gentler, water-based products for your shampooing, masking/deep conditioning and leave-in conditioning processes, and utilize products with heavier oils and butters for your sealing/moisturizing and curl defining products. 

 

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector 

 

MEDIUM POROSITY HAIR

Medium porosity hair has cuticles that easily open to absorb moisture, but also retain moisture well by being able to seal after it has been absorbed. This is the balance that healthy hair finds, as it allows water to pass through, holds it within the strand so the body can utilize it, and then releases it when ready.  You most likely have medium porosity hair if you find that your hair can absorb moisture fairly easily and stays moisturized for a longer period of time throughout the week after wash-day is complete.

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