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Hair Porosity

In the blog, How To Improve Hair Health, talked about the different types of hair textures as defined by stylist Andre Walker and I must say, all hair textures are beautiful and learning to love and understand your hair is key to improving hair’s health and hair. This week we will be disusing hair porosity. 

Have you heard of hair porosity?  Well, I first heard about it in 2017. Someone told me to pull out my hair, put it in a glass of water and wait for it to sink, flow, or remain suspended.  This apparently was to determine what was best for my hair. It was a little weird but turned out to be critically important. So, let’s talk about that; shall we?

What Is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity is your hair strand’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. You see, our hair strands are made up of the medulla (The soft, inner layer of the strand containing transparent cells and air spaces), Cortex (the thickest layer of the hair strand, containing important proteins and is responsible for the pigmentation) and the Cuticle (the protective layer consisting of overlapping cells). The cuticle is a flexible outer hair layer which acts as the gateway to our hair to receive moisture and to seal moisture in. Porosity tends to be genetical, but our it can change when we damage our hair. It can also change by exposure, heat treatments, and chemical processing. They are three types of porosity (Low, Medium/normal, and High) and by knowing your type, you would be able to pick the right product, and the right application to have the best results as well as heather-looking stands instead of dry hair. 

5 Types of Porosity Test 

To get the best results, I would suggest you try more than 3 of the following tests to be safe. I remember talking to a friend and she asked me to help with her “high” porosity hair growth (I’m low by the way). In doing research, it didn’t seem like her hair was “high “, so I asked what she use to determine this. She said that she did the floating test (which is also the test I used but my hair acts like low porosity and it matched that result).  In this case, the floating test did not give her accurate results. That’s why it is always good to do 2 to 3 tests, if not all, just to be sure. 

Test One: Absorption Test  

 Hair Porosity

Wet your hair with water. If your hair gets wet fast, you have high porosity and if you have to the work the water into your hair or apply warm water for your hair to absorb it then you have low porosity. That simple.

Test Two: Hair and Body Test  

 Hair Porosity

The hair and body test can be done after you wash your hair or shower. If your hair dries before your body, then you have high porosity. If your body dries before your hair, then you have low or normal porosity. This test is a bit time-consuming especially if you fall within the low bracket.  

Test Three: The Float Test 

 Hair Porosity

For this test, grab a container preferably transparent one. Fill it with room temperature water then take a clean strand of hair from your head and place it in the container filled with water. Let it sit for 2-5 minutes. After the 2-5 minutes time lapse, check the container to see if the strand of hair sank (meaning you have high porosity) or if your hair is floated (low porosity).  If the strand neither sank nor float but rather stayed in the middle then you have normal.

Test Four: The Slip’n’Slide Test/ Stand Tests 

 Hair Porosity

Start by grabbing a strand of hair and slide your finger up the shaft from the end towards the scalp. If you feel little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity. If your fingers slid smoothly across the strand, then you have low. 

Test Five: Moisturize Product Test  

 Hair Porosity

Apply moisturizing hair cream to the entire head of hair. If cream sits on the hair, then you have low porosity. If it is fully absorbed into the hair but feels dry within a short period of time, then you have high porosity if the moisture is absorbed easy and last at least a day then you have normal.

Needs For Low Porosity Hair

This type of hair has a tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales that lay flat. 

Hair Likes  

  • Moisturizers rich in emollients such as shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and mineral oil. 
  • Choose lighter, liquid-based products such as hair milks that won’t sit on your hair and leave it oily or greasy.          
  • Stick to protein-free (protein every couple of months should be fine but it depends on the person), daily conditioners with humectants such as glycerin or honey, which attract and hold moisture to your hair. 
  • Use moderate heat with protein-free deep conditioning treatments to help to open the tightly bound cuticle. Also using warm water while washing your hair helps.      

Hair Dislikes

  • It is prone to build-up from protein-rich, deep conditioning products which can leave the hair feeling stiff and straw-like.
 Hair Porosity

Needs of Medium/Normal Porosity Hair

Hair Likes

  • Avoid protein in your daily regimen.
  • Deep condition periodically with a product that does include protein. 

Hair Dislikes  

  • This type of hair stands up well to styling, coloring, and chemicals. This means you should be careful! Frequent treatment can slowly increase the porosity of your hair. 
 Hair Porosity

Needs of High Porosity Hair 

Hair Likes  

  • Use anti-humectants, especially when it’s humid to seal your cuticles and prevent them from absorbing too much moisture. (Ex: raw shea butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, palm oil).
  • Leave-in conditioners and moisturizers will provide your hair with moisture throughout the day but use a sealer such as Avocado Oil to retain moisture and prevent dryness. 
  • Protein. 

Hair Dislikes  

  • No need to use heat to let moisture in; the cuticles are already open.
 Hair Porosity
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