What is Hair Porosity?
Some of us already know our hair type or have heard about hair types. Hair types come in all forms, such as: 3c, 4a, 4b, 4c and so on. Hair type is the physical characteristic of our hair and it refers to how our curls look and/or form. Some people may even have two or three different hair types in their hair. For example, the front of an individual’s hair can be 3c while the back could be 4c. But truth be told, caring for natural hair is not all about hair type. The most important factor when caring for natural hair is porosity.
Porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture. The ability for moisture and oils to pass in and out of your hair is affected by the flexible outer layer of your hair called the cuticle. Knowing your hair’s porosity can help your hair remain healthy. Once you know what your hair porosity is you can now focus on hair growth and health.
Determining hair porosity:
The best way to determine your hair porosity is to observe how well it absorbs in water. If your hair quickly absorbs water, even when it has products on it and then dries very fast after, that is high porosity. With low porosity, your hair would typically take longer to absorb water. If your hair absorbs moisture easily AND retains that moisture for long periods of time, it is likely that you have normal porosity.
Low porosity is moisture resistant- which means that it can be difficult for your hair to absorb moisture. That goes for water, oils, gels, and even creams. Low porosity hair repels moisture when you try to wet it and is hard to process since it resists penetration of chemicals. Low porosity hair can easily have product buildup, especially in protein-rich products. Protein-rich products often leave it feeling stiff and straw-like. The thing about low porosity hair is that it's hard to get the moisture in there, but once it’s fully in there, it feels amazing!
Characteristics you may be experiencing:
- Much more prone to single strand knots
- It’s difficult to absorb moisture
- Difficult to treat chemically, and does not take color well
- Products tend to sit on top of your hair
- Takes a long time for your hair to dry
- Choose light, liquid-based products that will help avoid product build up. Try to avoid heavy butters and oils.
- Stick to protein-free, daily conditioners with humectants.
- Use light weight oils. Heavy oils are most likely to just sit on top of your hair instead of actually moisturizing the hair shaft.
Hair with normal porosity is the easiest to maintain. Your cuticles easily open and close. This allows just the right amount of moisture to enter and is also easier to retain the moisture for a longer period of time. Normal Porosity hair is supposed to be balanced. This means that your hair is able to take in moisture and retain it longer. Hair that has normal porosity is most likely able to hold styles well, and can be permed and colored with predictable results. But try not to go overboard because these processes can damage your hair and increase its porosity if it's done excessively.
Occasional deep conditioning treatments with protein conditioners can benefit normal porosity hair, but proteins should not be included in your daily regimen.
It could be that you were born with this hair porosity or it may have been caused by damage from chemical processing, rough treatment, a large amount of heat damage etc. Too much straightening, curling, or hair coloring creates a lot of dryness and brittleness in the hair. However, if all of these are done correctly by taking precautions, they are not harmful. High porosity hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle, bringing too much moisture into the hair and making it prone to frizz and tangling in humid weather. The advantage of high porosity hair is that it absorbs moisture and product rapidly, but not for long enough to nourish and moisturize your hair because the strands don’t lay flat enough for retention to take place.
Characteristics you may be experiencing:
- Prone to breakage
- Absorbs products quickly
- Dries quickly
- Needs and loves protein
- Hair gets tangled easily
- Rapid moisture loss
- Hair feels dry
- Frizzy hair
- Use LCO method---liquid/leave-in conditioner, cream, oil.
- Use leave-in conditioners, moisturizers and sealers. Layering these products will help your hair hold on to the moisture you're giving it.
- Following up with a hair butter can help fill the gaps in your damaged cuticles and further protect your hair from losing too much moisture.
Does Hair Porosity matter?
Well… if it wasn’t obvious by now, yes it matters! Many people overlook the subject because they don’t feel like it matters but it really does. It’s more likely that your hair did not react to certain products in the past because of your porosity. Knowing your hair porosity will save you so much time and stress!