If you are a curly girl living in a not-so-curl-friendly world and want to grow your natural tresses out, this post is your first step in the right direction. There are too many hair products out there to just blithely spend money on ones that do more harm than good to your hair. Even hair products you hear praises about through the grape-vine may not be the best for you to use. Identifying your hair porosity allows you to find products that work best for you without having to experiment so much.
What is Hair Porosity?
Hair porosity: The extent to which one’s hair is able to absorb and retain moisture.
There are three kinds of hair porosity; low porosity, normal porosity, and high porosity.
Hair with low porosity doesn’t retain moisture very well and tends to dry rather quickly. If your hair has low porosity, your hair cuticles are SO tight that it is abnormally hard for your hair to absorb water. A good way to test your hair for low porosity is to take a water bottle and spray a section of your hair. If the water forms little droplets on your hair (some of them even running off) you have low porosity hair!
Another (more popular) way to test your hair for its porosity is by taking a strand of hair and placing it in a glass of lukewarm water. After about 2-5 minutes, check the glass. If the strand of hair is still floating near the top of the water in the glass, you have low porosity hair.
Hair with normal (or medium) porosity retains moisture fairly well and can adapt to relaxers, hair dyes, and other hair treatments easily. Someone with normal porosity hair doesn’t need to do a lot to it to keep it looking healthy since it is pretty flexible overall. Using the glass of water method to test your hair for this hair type, a strand of hair with normal porosity will sink just a little bit and float in the middle of the water (observing from the side of the glass).
Hair with high porosity gains and loses moisture very easily. This kind of hair tends to get frizzy and easily tangled in humid weather. If your hair has high porosity, your hair cuticles are so loose that your hair soaks up all of the water it is given like a vacuum and yet still needs more at the end of the day. High porosity hair is often described as hair that is damaged or/and has been subject to one too many chemicals.
To test your hair for high porosity using the glass of water method, look for the strand of hair to sink all the way to the bottom of the glass. If it does, you’ve got high porosity hair. You can also do the spray bottle test. If your hair soaks up the water like a sponge, your hair definitely has high porosity!
So Now You Know Your Hair Porosity… Now What?
Well, you can finally find out what kind of products your hair is certain to love!
Low Porosity hair is highly prone to product buildup since the cuticles are so tight that products often sit on top of the hair rather than being absorbed by it. Therefore, products that are light and liquid-based are great for this kind of hair because they don’t leave the hair looking too greasy or oily and can better penetrate the hair shaft. As far as moisturizing goes, this hair thrives best with argon or grapeseed oil, hair milks, and moderate heat (we’re talking blow-dryer or hot shower water heat here) with deep-conditioning treatments to open up the cuticle.
Normal Porosity hair can become low or high porosity hair overtime with lack of proper care so it is important to keep a healthy distance from heat and chemicals and to maintain a good hair care regimen. Also, be sure to use hair protectants before applying heat and chemicals!
High Porosity hair requires products that offer intense moisture. Butters, creams, and oils like coconut oil and jojoba oil are best for this kind of hair. Because the hair cuticles are so loose for high porosity hair, they need a little help to hold on to the products they absorb. This is why it is best to rinse the hair with cold water after washes or conditioning treatments to help close the cuticles and lock in the moisture. Be sure to implement a leave-in-conditioner, oil, and a cream in your regular daily/weekly hair care regimen to keep the hair looking moisturized and healthy.
Best of luck in your natural hair journeys ladies (and gents)!