Hair porosity simply means, how your hair absorb moisture and most importantly if it can retain all that moisture, by knowing how porous your hair is, you can tell how well oils and moisture will pass through your hair cuticle. Especially for us natural heads, moisture in our hair is key, but keeping that moisture locked in our hair cuticle is ‘everything’.
If you want to benefit from every ounce off your moisture, its only beneficial for you to know what type of porosity your hair is, before we get in to that lets start with how your hair structure is build. The part of the hair that’s visible to the eyes is called the hair shaft, the hair shaft exists out of three layers, and for your hair to be hydrated and healthy it’s important for moisture to penetrate through all three layers of the hair shaft. These three layers are.
- The Cuticle: This is the outer layer of your hair that protects your hair, the cuticle looks like flat square-shaped smaller cells that overlap each other.
- The Cortex: This is the middle layer and also the thickest layer of the hair shaft. In this layer is where the hair fiber contains it strength, texture and color.
- The Medulla: This is the inner layer of the hair shaft, its the most softest & fragile part of the hair.
For your hair to be hydrated it’s important for moisture to penetrate through all three layers of the hair shaft.
By knowing which type of hair porosity you have, it may be easier to know what products to use and how to maximize them. There are 3 categories.
So now that you know the structure of the hair shaft and that it’s important for moisture to get through all three layers to have healthy and moisturized hair, lets get in to the type of porosity there is.
- Low Porosity;
- Normal Porosity;
- High Porosity;
If you have low porosity hair its hard for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft, the cuticles are tightly packed together and with hardly any space between the cuticles its almost impossible for any kind of moisture to get through the hair shaft.
# How to recognize
- Your hair won’t absorb moisture well, this will cause for products to sit on your hair
- It will take you longer to get your hair soaking wet, because of the closed cuticles
- Air drying your hair takes longer
With normal porosity hair, the cuticles are looser, this makes it easier for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft and it also prevents moisture to leave. Hair with normal porosity can stand styling, coloring and chemicals.
How to recognize
- You don’t need a lot of products for your hair to look shiny, voluminous and healthy
- Your hair is easy to style and it holds the styles well for a longer period of time.
- It doesn’t take a long time for the hair to air dry
- When moisturizing your hair with products, it doesn’t get dry at the end of the day
With hair that is high porosity the cuticles are too far apart, as a result of this its very easy for products to enter the hair shaft, but it’s hard for this type of hair to retain that moisture.
How to recognize
- Your hair absorb products very quickly
- Your hair looks and feels dry, no matter what type of product you use
- Your hair gets tangled very easily
- Your hair gets frizzy and has a dull look to it
- Your hair gets air dried very fast
Test your hair porosity
There are different methods to test your hair porosity
# The Water-Cup Test
Start this test with clean hair, fill a cup or glass with room temperature water. Take a couple of hair strands and put them in the water. If your hair is floating for 4 minutes or more you have low porosity hair. If your hair is sinking at a slow rate, you have normal porosity hair. And if your hair sinks immediately you have high porosity hair.
# The Strand Test
Grab a strand of your hair, start at the end of the hair and slide your fingers upwards to the root of the hair shaft. If, the strand feels smooth you have normal porosity hair. If it feels dry or rough or it breaks of, you have high porosity hair. When your fingers slide up with ease and the strand feels hard and dense, you have low porosity hair.
# The Spray Bottle Test
Take a small section of hair and spritz it with some water, it the water just sits on your hair, you have low porosity hair. If the water sits on the hair but gets absorbed after a couple of minutes, you have normal porosity hair. And if your hair absorb the water quickly you have high porosity hair.