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Hair Porosity: What Is Your Hair Porosity?

by MSTY Staff Writers

Some of the most common problems naturalistas face are moisture-retention and finding the right product for their hair. These issues among many others can be solved if you know your hair porosity. Pretty simple, right?

Hair porosity refers to the ability of your hair to absorb moisture. 

Image Source: Shutterstock/ Anastasiia Kazakova

Before we go into explaining how to determine your hair porosity, let’s take a closer look at the different porosity categories. There are three classifications; low porosity, normal porosity and high porosity.

Low Hair Porosity

If you have low hair porosity, it means your hair cuticles are not open enough, that is, not porous enough and products hardly ever penetrate your hair strands.

People with low hair porosity typically have their hair take eons to dry, and sometimes one can see the products lying atop their hair strands. 

Image Source: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot

If this is your hair type, try using alkaline-based products ( that is, with a ph that’s above 7.5). Alkaline products tend to lift up the hair cuticles, making it more penetrable.

Other options for low porosity hair types include steamers as they also open up the hair cuticles. On the other hand, products containing lots of acids are a no-no.  You should avoid heavy butter or petroleum-based products as these can make the hair more impenetrable.

Normal Hair Porosity

Image Source: Shutterstock/ pikselstock

Now, this is the category most people believe they fall in, but if you are having trouble retaining moisture, you most likely do not have normal hair porosity. As you have probably already guessed, this category pertains to hair that is not too open neither is it as tightly closed like that of normal hair porosity. 

Normal porosity absorbs products easily, and moisture isn’t quick to exit the hair strands. 

However, over manipulation, through heat, dyes, and so on could change the porosity from normal to high, which brings us to the final category. 

High Hair Porosity

Hair that is highly porous is indicative of cuticles that are too open/porous hence; your hair absorbs moisture fast and loses moisture just as quickly. 

If you can saturate your hair and witness a rapid rate of drying, you most likely have high hair porosity.

Image Source: Shutterstock/Blend Images

Those with high hair porosity should avoid the use of heat and alkaline products as these could severely make the hair more porous than it already is. Acidic products like apple cider vinegar (ACV) will aid in closing up the cuticles a bit.

Protein treatments can also help in temporarily building up the pores that make the cuticles so “open.”

Using thick or heavy butter/oils such as castor oil, shea butter to seal in moisture can go a great way in helping your natural hair if you fall under this category. 

Now that we are clear on the different types on hair porosity, let's test your hair! 

You’ll Need: 

A clear glass of water

A clean strand of hair—preferably a shed hair. 

Direction: Place a strand of hair in the glass of water and watch what happens next. 

If it sinks to the bottom almost immediately, you have a high porous hair. 

If it lingers in the middle, you have normal porous hair. 

If it remains on top of the water forever before finally sinking (if at all) to the bottom of the glass, then you most likely have a head of hair with low porosity.

Another method to try is waiting to see how long it takes your hair to air-dry after being washed.

Too fast—high porosity, too slow—low porosity, in-between—normal porosity.