Everything You Wanted to Know About Hair Porosity

What is Hair Porosity?

Each strand of hair has a layer called the cuticle. Porosity refers to how much moisture gets inside the cuticle layer. Healthy hair is normal to low porosity because it is not losing water or proteins from the interior. High Porosity hair is caused by wear and tear (combing/brushing, sleeping on cotton), harsh shampoos, chemical treatments, heat, bleaching and colouring.


The float test has been the most popular test for determining hair porosity but many argue that it is flawed for many reasons which you can read here and here.

The real way to test your porosity is by a gas sorption test which is expensive, so let’s figure out some other options to find your hair porosity!

Important: Don’t rely on just one of the below tests. Take a majority count for reliable results! If you have a 50-50 count of low-high or if you have more normal porosity count, then your hair is normal porosity.

Fragrance Test – This is probably my favorite way because I had noticed this even before knowing the ABC about hair science. If you go to any place which has some strong smell – say a Barbeque/grill place or an area with many cigarette smokers; Does your hair smell of that place after getting home? That’s a sign of high porosity hair. It always happens to me and I started noticing it after my hair smelt of fried chicken oil after visiting KFC!

And I think this is the closest to the gas sorption test because the principle is the same.

Slide Test – Slide your fingers up a strand of your hair from the end towards your scalp. If it’s bumpy, you have high porosity hair. If your hair feels very very smooth, you have low porosity hair. Somewhere in between is normal porosity hair.

Products Test – Do most products seem to just sit on your hair without getting absorbed? Do they weigh down your hair? You have low porosity hair. (Keep in mind that wavy hair and fine hair can also get weighed down easily). Does your hair absorb products fast like it is very thirsty? You have high porosity hair. Somewhere in between is normal porosity hair.

Hair Drying Test – Does your hair take a really long time to dry? You have low porosity hair (Keep in mind that high density hair also takes a long time to dry). If it dries real fast, you have high porosity hair. Somewhere in between is normal porosity hair.

Shine Test – Is your hair really shiny? The tight cuticles in low porosity hair reflect light making it look very shiny. Dull hair is usually high porosity hair (Remember that product buildup can also cause dullness). Somewhere in between is normal porosity hair.

Tangle Test – Do you have a lot of problems with tangling and knotty hair? It’s usually the sign of high porosity hair as the cuticles hook on to each other like Velcro.

Protein Test – Low porosity hair is usually protein sensitive. Check this – How Protein Helps Your Curls + Protein sensitivity . High porosity hair is damaged and can usually take protein treatments really well.

Now that you’ve determined your hair type, let’s find out how to take care of it !

Low Porosity Care

  • Use heat to slightly lift cuticles. Hooded drier, steamer, warm towel etc. can help products absorb better. Or slightly warm your products in the microwave or in a water bath. Deep condition with heat.
  • Use lightweight products and use only small quantities.
  • Apply products on damp hair instead of dripping wet hair. [email protected] says “Just after washing low porosity hair, your hair has absorbed a lot of water and so will find it very difficult to absorb anything else. By drying your hair a little you’re giving it the chance to let go of some of the water so it can absorb whatever product you want it to.”
  • Clarify often to get rid of product build-up which can worsen your issue of products not getting absorbed.
  • Use products with humectants.
  • Refresh with warm water.

High Porosity Care

  • Do deep conditioning treatments and protein treatments regularly.
  • Use more products and heavier products (Keep in mind that fine haired or wavy haired people cannot do this. So find a balance)
  • Avoid bleach, permanent dyes, heat tools

Normal Porosity Care

Nothing special required for you! Lucky!! You can try all kind of methods and products and see what suits you best depending on your hair pattern, density, coarseness etc. 🙂 I am normal – high porosity. What is your hair porosity?



  1. Such an amazing post.. first time ever in Indian blogs.. never came across such a detailed post. Thank you so much for all your efforts that you take in making clear n crisp posts and love to you😍…..You are amazing Anjan😘😘😘😍😍😍

  2. Hey Anjana..I am new on your blog and have started on my curly hair journey and the problem that I am facing is using henna..I have premature greying so I used to henna..but I have noticed it does loosen my curls which I don’t want and I also don’t want go for colouring my hair..Any solution??

    1. Hey Farzana, henna does loosen curls because it deposits on to hair thereby weighing it down. There’s no other way. Why don’t you want to colour your hair?

      1. Because my mom won’t allow and colouring your hair does a serious damage..my sister did and it took a her whole year to recover from that damage

        1. That must have been permanent dye which has ammonia in it (or a bleach was used prior) and such dyes lift the cuticle. Semi permanent dyes only deposit colour and don’t damage hair.

    1. No. Like I said henna weighs down curls by depositing. The weight of a substance cannot be negated by adding another substance

  3. Hi
    So by float test I thought I had low porosity….. By the fragrance again it is low when I use less products it acts good…. But it even tangles a lot (not a lot lot but it does tangle)
    Secondly I have long hair my hair type is 3a/b but because it is long it weighs down (I had a boycut till 10th std which is 8 years back so I am very possessive about length)
    When I apply cg products follow a proper routine my hair doesn’t show that good curl…. At night if I just leave it and don’t tie (I use cotton pillow) next day morning my hair is curly (it has frizz) but the curls are amazing why so?

  4. I jus can’t determine my porosity. Some strands are bumpy and some aren’t . What would that mean. I hve never paid much heed to porosity but guess I shld determine

  5. Is coconut oil not good for low porosity hair?
    I have started the cg routine recently Although the curls are showing up, there are many hair, especially at the lower back as well as the crown area that just don’t curl. Also my hair feels heavy and coiled up by day 3. I have 2c/3a curls. Not very sure of the porosity. I have never heat styled/ colored or done any damaging treatments to my hair. Pl suggest what to do.

    1. How do you use the coconut oil Sukanya? I didn’t get how hair can be both heavy and coiled up – can you please elaborate more?

  6. I didn’t knooooow! I wondered what my bumpy hair meant, plus the fact that it straight up eats product (It’s currently hella shiny because I fed it 200mL of conditioner. 200mL. That’s an entire bottle.)

    Thank you for this! Now I can go for some things that might work! (Currently in order to slightly abate the “eats product like ten hippos” problem, I tend to use a very, very large amount of cheaper conditioner, rinse, then condition again with a smaller amount of high quality conditioner, then ensure some of that is left in. Thoughts?)

      1. Depends. I’ve got a few, hang on a second…

        Okay, so for the first condition (the one where I use massive amounts of product), I use mainly the following (since they’re all fairly cheap and available at my local supermarkets):
        Nature’s Organic Fruits – Normal Apple
        Trésemme Professional Conditioner – Moisture Rich
        Essano Conditioner – Nourishing Argan Oil

        For the second round, I usually use either:
        Alfaparf Semi Di Lino Disciplne Frizz Control Butter Mask
        Babyliss Pro Argan Oil Moisture Repair Conditioner

        I can usually get away with a small palmful of the second product, but only because my hair is already saturated with water and whatever I’ve used the first time.

          1. I haven’t been, I didn’t know that that’s what they needed! I use deep conditioning treatments fairly regularly, but I wasn’t aware that protein treatments would also do well. I’ll certainly be giving it a go, I’ll let you know of the results!

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