How to determine your hair porosity

What is hair porosity? 

Hair porosity refers to the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. The porosity of your hair determines how readily oils and moisture flow through the cuticle, the outermost layer of your hair. Even though your hair strands seem like a single strip, they are made up of several layers of cuticle. The cuticle is a protective layer that affects how much moisture can be absorbed by your hair. Your cuticles will lose moisture faster if they are open and elevated, leaving your hair dry and frizzy. Cuticles that are too close together resist absorbing liquids, making it harder to hydrate and condition your hair. So in general, the porosity of your hair decides what it requires and does not require. 

Hair porosity is measured on a scale from high to low. It's helpful to know where you lie on the spectrum because it affects how you care for and style your strands. Knowing your hair porosity allows you to quickly identify hair care products and treatments that will suit your hair. Haircare is often thought of solely in terms of hair type. But, hair porosity is one of the most significant things to be considered and many people are unaware of their hair porosity level. 

What are the different types of hair porosity?

Hair porosity is generally classified into three types; 
  • High porosity: Cuticles that are widely spaced
  • Medium porosity: Cuticles that are less tightly bound
  • Low porosity: Cuticles that are close together

1) High porosity hair

High porosity hairs can absorb water, oils and other sorts of products. But on the other hand, your hair may not be able to retain moisture effectively as it is highly porous. Raised cuticles in high porosity hair can absorb moisture but can not hold it and loses it rapidly. As a result, your hair becomes frizzy and prone to breakage and damage. The texture of your hair becomes dry and rough due to the lack of moisture. 

High porosity hair, either due to genetics or hair damage, allows moisture to easily seep into the hair shaft, but it isn't able to hold it for long. This is because the cuticles have gaps or spaces between them. 

Characteristics of high porosity hair 

  • Hair absorbs moisture and other hair products easily and rapidly due to its porous nature. 
  • Highly porous hair needs protein. 
  • Breakage and split ends are the most common problems of high porosity hair. 
  • Hair becomes easily tangled. 
  • Hair takes less time to air dry. 
  • Hair becomes dry and frizzy. 

How to take care of high porosity hair 

1) High porosity hair absorbs moisture quickly and dries rapidly. So use treatments like pre-shampoo masks and oil. And while choosing shampoos and conditioners, look for components like oils and butter which will help you keep your hair hydrated. 
2) Try to use leave-in conditioners. This will help your hair in retaining its moisture. 
3) Avoid using high wattage blow dryers to dry your hair. Since high porosity hair dries easily and quickly, let it air dry. If you are using a blow dryer or other heat styling techniques, apply a heat protectant to your hair. This can help to prevent heat damage to your hair. 
4) Avoid over-styling your hair, excessive brushing and washing. 
5) Avoid hot water while washing your hair. Use normal or lukewarm water. 

2) Medium Porosity hair 

The cuticles of hair with a medium or normal porosity aren't too close together nor are excessively open. This permits moisture to quickly penetrate while also allowing moisture to be retained for a longer period. This hair type takes the least maintenance and management. It doesn't get frizzy, doesn't build up easily, dries quickly and handles hairstyles better. Your hair appears to be healthy, thick and shiny. But keep in mind that the normal porosity of hair can vary over time due to heat damage and other chemical treatments. 

Characteristics of medium porosity hair 

  • Hair with medium porosity is the most healthy state of the hair. 
  • It needs less maintenance and management.
  • It doesn't take long for hair to dry or to get wet. 
  • It handles hairstyles very well. 
  • It highly absorbs moisture content and retains it for a long time in the cuticle. 
  • Less prone to breakage and split ends. 

How to take care of medium porosity hair 

1) Include moisturizing and strengthening treatments in your hair care routine to maintain your healthy hair. 
2) Avoid using high wattage blow dryers and heat styling equipment as they can damage your hair. 
3) Use a wide-toothed hairbrush for detangling. 
4) Wash your hair with normal or lukewarm water. 
5) Use mild and chemical-free shampoo and conditioner. 

3) Low porosity hair 

In low porosity hair, hair does not absorb moisture easily when the cuticles are tightly closed together. However, when it absorbs moisture, it is retained for a long time and prevents hair from seeming damaged or dry. Product buildup on the scalp can be noticeable in the low porosity hair as the oils and other products aren't easily absorbed. Low porosity hair is lustrous and frequently regarded as healthy. 

Characteristics of low porosity hair 

  • Product accumulation can be seen on your scalp. 
  • Hair takes a long time to get wet and longer to dry as it naturally resists moisture content. 
  • Keeping your hair hydrated is difficult. 
  • It is less prone to breakage and split ends. The hair volume will be thin and have lesser elasticity. 

How to take care of low porosity hair 

1) Use lightweight oils because the hair cuticle on low porosity hair is frequently firmly closed, lightweight solutions that may penetrate the cuticle and nurture your hair are vital for this. 
2) Using warm water is a good thing for low porosity hair. Warm water will open the hair cuticle and allows moisture to penetrate. 
3) Because of its capacity to reinforce the hair cuticle, protein is frequently found in hair care products and treatments. Low porosity hair is protein sensitive as the cuticles are already tightly packed. Adding more protein can make your hair stiff and fragile, so avoid using protein-containing products. 
4) Try to follow remedies for getting rid of build-ups in your hair. 
5) Try to avoid heavy hair products such as creams and choose water-based hair products which are generally lightweight. 

How to determine your hair porosity

There are two methods through which you can determine your hair porosity; 

1) The float test

Drop a few strands of your hair from your comb into a bowl of water. Keep it like that for 2-4 minutes. If your float in the water, you have low porosity. You have high porosity if the hair strands sink immediately, if they sink slowly you have medium or normal porosity hair. 

2) Hair strand test 

Take a hair strand and stretch it. Slide your fingers into the strand towards the scalp. If your finger slides easily and you can feel the strand as strong and dense, you have a low porosity hair. If the hair strand feels dry, rough or breaks, you have a high porosity hair. If the strand feels smooth, you have medium hair porosity.