Have you sat in the salon chair before and heard your hairdresser talk about your hair being ‘porous’ or say, ‘it’s more porous now’ or just used the word ‘porosity’ and you’ve thought: “Oh, yes, I know about porous or porosity” but then thought what did they actually mean? Well, we can clear it all up for you today! 

hair porosity

Hair porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. 

When it comes to porosity, our hair falls into one of three categories: 

  • Low Porosity: cuticles that lie close together 
  • Medium Porosity: cuticles that are looser 
  • High Porosity: cuticles with more space between  

The level of porosity of your hair depends on how you regularly you look after it, and there’s actually a really simple test you can perform yourself at home that will help you find out what category of porosity your hair is in.

hair porosity

You just need two things: a glass of clear water and a clean strand of hair (it’s recommended to shampoo your hair first to get rid of any build up or products). Once you comb your hair through, use one of the loose strands. 

First, make sure this strand of hair is dry, then drop it into the glass of water. 

After following these steps, your hair will do one of three things: 

  • Hair that is low porosity will float;
  • Hair that is ‘normal’ porosity will float and then begin to sink slowly;
  • Hair that is high porosity will sink immediately. 

What do these results actually mean?

low porosity hair

Low porosity hair 

If your hair floated to the top then you’ve got Low Porosity hair, which basically means you hair is pretty healthy, but this goes against the myth that low porosity hair is unhealthy. However, the cuticles are tight and lie flat together, which actually means your hair is not getting enough moisture, so it becomes dry and tangled. 

When your hair is like this there’s a couple of things you can do. Use an oil that will penetrate your hair strands before you shampoo. In ancient cultures, they always tended to oil their hair before cleaning/shampooing. The oil will not only help moisturise your hair, but also prevent damage of your strands. When you get in the shower, pour warm water on your hair, and you will notice it swells and then contracts really quickly, causing nicks in your strands. This is known as Hygral Fatigue.

Hygral fatigue is a breakdown of the hair cuticle caused by excessive moisture entering and exiting. Hair which has hygral fatigue may feel mushy when wet. Avocado Oil and Argan Oil are great for this. 

hair porosity

Medium porosity hair 

If your hair floated and then began to sink slowly, then this is the healthiest type of porosity, and the easiest hair type to maintain because the hair cuticles tend to be looser. Moisture penetrates this type of hair much easier and the hair  can take what it needs. To maintain this level of porosity it’s recommended to do a deep conditioning treatment mask on the hair about once a week. Your hair will take the ingredients it needs or lacks, and will help to keep it looking healthy, smooth and glossy.

porosity hair

High porosity hair 

If your hair sank immediately, it means it can absorb plenty of moisture, but it struggles to hold on to any of it. 

There are a few reasons for this: 

  • Type 3 and Type 4 hair naturally have high porosity;
  • Possible over-colouring, over processed, sun bleached/damaged, excessive heat styling without proper protections or it can just be hereditary. Anything that can damage or change the natural cuticle layer can often leave you with high porosity hair. 

The best remedies for this are leave-in conditioners moisturisers and sealers. Layering these products will help your hair hold on to the moisture you’re giving it. Use heat protectants before styling plus avoid hot water when showering.

hair porosity

There’s a good home remedy too. Try mixing 4 tbsp of Aloe Vera gel with 2 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar and apply from root to tip — rinse after 20 minutes with lukewarm or cool water. The Apple Cider Vinegar helps tighten your cuticles and lock in the moisture from aloe. 

We hope this lesson on porosity has helped you understand it better and understand your hair better too! 

Neil Moodie





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