Hair Porosity

Avatar simplyfunmi | April 6, 2019

If you’ve watched some of my videos about natural hair on my YouTube channel, you may have heard me talk about the porosity of my hair.

Hair porosity is simply the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. This is largely controlled by genetics, however factors like heat and chemical treatments can affect it. Hair porosity is based on how compact or raised the cuticles on your hair shaft is.

Knowing the porosity of your hair can be useful because it can help tailor your hair care routine to ensure your hair is properly moisturized. There are three categories of hair porosity- low, normal or high. For me, the hair on the front of my head appears to have low porosity while the hair on the back of my head appears to have normal porosity. It isn’t uncommon to have different porosity categories on one head of hair.

The float test is a tried and tested method to determine what your hair porosity is. To do this, start by using placing a clean strand of your hair from different sections (the front, crown and back of your hair) into 3 separate glasses of water. The strands must be clean and free of any products.  If it floats after about 2-4 mins, it means the hair in that section is low porous hair. You have high porosity hair if it sinks immediately all the way to the bottom of the cup and normal porosity hair if it sinks slowly.

Tips for caring for your hair based on porosity

High porosity

Highly porous hair has raised cuticles in the hair shaft, and so it tends to absorb water rather quickly. The downfall though is water also tends to be lost very quickly, leaving it dry, dull, brittle and prone to breakage. Now that you know this, here are some tips for caring for highly porous hair

  • Use hair masks or deep conditioners to ensure your hair absorbs as much moisture as possible
  • Use minimal heat. Heat tends to dry out your hair and for a person with high porous hair, too much heat can be detrimental
  • Rinse your hair with cold water after shampoo and conditioner. Cold water closes the cuticles of the hair, thereby making it harder to lose any previously absorbed moisture

Normal porosity

Hair with normal porosity tends to absorb and retain moisture well, thereby enhancing its elasticity. Normal porosity hair is also easy to manage and style

  • Incorporate regular deep conditioning in your hair care routine

Low Porosity

The cuticles of low porous hair tend to be compact so it is hard to absorb water into the hair shaft. However, once absorbed, it is very good at retaining it. This is because the compact cuticles don’t easily let moisture out. Low porosity hair is also prone to product build up because often, hair products just sit on the hair and don’t get absorbed into the shaft.

  • Use heat such as a hair steamer or a shower cap with a towel wrapped around it, when deep conditioning or using a hair mask. Heat raises the cuticles thereby enhancing the absorption of moisture into the hair shaft.
  • Be sure to be patient when applying products. Take time to massage them into the strands to enhance absorption.
  • Use the prayer method to evenly distribute products on your hair strands. The prayer method involves having your hair in between your palms while they are facing each other like you’re about to say a prayer, and run you hands down your hair. If you want a visual of what I’m referring to, watch this video
  • Apply products to hair when damp, not wet
  • Use clarifying shampoo or apple cider vinegar rinses to remove product buildup from your hair and scalp.

Did you try the float test? What were your results?


Written by simplyfunmi



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