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 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?