Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Each strand of hair has a flexible outer layer known as the hair “cuticle” and the cuticle determines how easily moisture can pass in and out of the hair strand.

It can be genetic, but external factors may also play a role. Chemical processing, heat treatments, and environmental exposure may also affect your hair’s porosity.

Hair porosity is important

As hair porosity refers to how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture, understanding it can help you better understand your hair. I’m sure we’ve all spent our resources using an influx of products, hoping that one would be exactly what your locks need.

By understanding it, you’ll be able to determine the best products and treatments suited to your individual needs much quickly, reducing the risk of using products on your hair that do anything but keep your hair well-moisturized, strong, and healthy.

What are the types of porosity?

Porosity is broken down into three categories: low, normal, and high.

Low porosity: Cuticles are very closely bound.

Normal / Medium porosity: Cuticles are slightly less bound.

High porosity: Cuticles are more widely spread out.

How can I test my hair’s porosity?

The easiest way to determine your hair porosity is by using a glass/bowl of water and a strand of your hair. It’s best to do this after washing your hair and ridding it of any product and build-up.

To do the test, simply comb your hair and collect the strands. Drop those strands into the water and wait a few minutes.

If the hairs float, you have low porosity, if it floats and then begins to slowly sink, then you have normal porosity. Lastly, if they sink, then you have high porosity.

How can I care for my hair according to porosity?

Low porosity

If your hair is low porosity, then that means it requires moisture. This is because the cuticles are tightly bound together, making it harder for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. This then means that any products you apply onto your mane won’t be easily absorbed – they’ll just sit on the hair, causing build-up.

To care for your low porosity hair and prevent dryness, we suggest pre-pooing when washing your hair. By pre-pooing with an emollient oil like Cliganic Jojoba Oil, you’ll help to moisturize your hair from within.

We also suggest that you get into the habit of using products that help to seal in moisture, such as the Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream.

It’s also advisable to use a steamer or heat cap to apply heat when you condition your hair, as this will help the product penetrate the hair shaft more easily.

Normal porosity

Hair with this type of porosity requires the least amount of maintenance because the hair cuticles are open enough to not only allow moisture to penetrate easily but also to retain it for a longer time.

To care for this hair type, we suggest regularly using deep conditioning treatments as this will help to keep your hair healthy, as well as increase product absorption – which is always a win. Conditioning treatments like Cantu’s Shea Butter Natural Hair Intensive Repair Masque and Arvazallia’s Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner are perfect because they help to penetrate deeply into the hair shaft, all while nourishing the hair with essential vitamins and nutrients.

High porosity

Those with this hair type have hair that can absorb moisture. Unfortunately, the hair has trouble retaining the moisture because of the gaps or spaces in the cuticles. As a result, those with high porosity hair are likely to experience excessive dryness, frizziness. Their hair will also tend to break easily.

We recommend that you use products that have oils and butters. This will help to lock in moisture. We also suggest that you cut back on the styling as this can affect the cuticle’s ability to retain moisture. This means less heat and chemicals.

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You’ll need products that not only restore moisture but also seal it in. Jojoba oil is a great ingredient as it does this perfectly. Products like Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Curling CreamThe Perfect Hair Sunflower Leave-In Treatment, and Design Essentials Natural Almond and Avocado Wash Day Deep Moisture Masque will each help to provide concentrated and highly penetrating moisture.

Want to know more?

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Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.