What I found is that a lot of why my hair reacts or doesn’t react to products is due to the porosity.
What is hair porosity?In a nutshell it’s the ability your hair, whether relaxed or natural, has to absorb and hold moisture. This ability has been broken into three categories - high, low and normal.
High porosity hair absorbs moisture like nobody’s business. On the flip side it also releases moisture just as quickly. This is because the hair strand has gaps and the cuticles are raised from damage from things like chemical-treatments and heat-styling tools. As a result high porosity hair has a hard time absorbing products and tends to look and feel dry and coarse.
Low porosity hair has a hard time absorbing moisture, but once it does the moisture tends to stay. The cause for this is that the hair cuticle is flat and tight. Those with low porosity hair will experience product build up more quickly and easily and will also notice their hair being more sensitive to products that have protein.
Normal porosity hair doesn’t have issues absorbing moisture and doesn’t release it quickly.
How to determine your hair porosityThere are multiple ways to determine the porosity for your hair. One of the more popular ways is to do a water test.
- Step 1: Fill up a glass or bowl with room temperature water
- Step 2: Place a few clean strands of your hair in the water
- Step 3: Let the hair strands sit for a couple of minutes
If your hair floats it’s said to be low porosity, if it sinks it’s high porosity. There are many people who debunk this testing method because it’s not very scientific.
A second way determine your hair porosity is to take an online quiz like this one by SheaMoisture. http://www.porosity411.com/#whats-your-porosity.
A third way is to observe and feel your hair when it’s wet. After getting all the excess water from your hair so it’s no longer dripping, put your hands in your hair. What does it feel like?
- Rough or like straw? You’re hair is most likely low porosity.
- Just wet? Then your hair is probably normal porosity.
- Sticky or like all of the product wasn’t washed from your hair? You probably have high porosity hair.
The water test and SheaMoisture quiz both determined what I already suspected. My hair is high porosity, though I think it has some normal porosity tendencies. The reason I think this is my hair can take a while to fully air dry. I’m not talking hours, I’m talking I can wash my hair in the morning, air dry and it won’t be dry when I go to bed that night. I would think with high porosity hair my hair would air dry quicker.
How to care for high porosity hairWith high porosity hair you want to repair the damage to the hair strand and find ways to close the cuticle. Some ways to do this are
- Alternate between moisture and protein based products
- If I pre-poo with a moisture product I tend to use a protein product like the SheaMoisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Masque for my conditioner
- Do hard protein treatments with a product like Aphogee Two Step Treatment to help fill the holes or gaps in the hair strands
- Do chemical-treatments less often
- Use less heat on your hair
- Seal hair with an oil after moisturizing to lock in the moisture
- Do apple cider vinegar rinses to help close your hair cuticles
Have you determined your hair porosity? If not, try one of methods listed above and share your results in the comments.