Hair porosity simply means how well your hair holds moisture. Your hair is unique to you and factors such as hair porosity play a huge role in the behaviour of your hair. Here are some reasons and facts about why knowing your natural hairs porosity will make a big difference in your journey.
Your Hair’s Cuticle
Your hair is formed of layers the outer most which is the one that is visible to the eye is called the cuticle layer. This layer is made up of scale like layers that operate like shingles, moving up and down. This layer is what protects your hair and controls the intake of water. The cortex is where water is housed.
Function of The Cuticle
The shingle looking layers lift up to take in water and moisture and then lift back down again. How often they lift and just how much moisture they let in is based on genetics, your surroundings (hot cold weather), diet and the chemicals that you use.
3 Types of Hair Porosity
Your hair’s porosity can be one of three categories low, medium (normal) or high.
What’s Your Hair’s Porosity?
Determining your hair’s porosity can be done by testing a few strands of hair. Make sure that these strands are clean hair with no product on them whatsoever. Drop the strands of hair in a glass of water and let them sit for about 3 to 4 minutes. If your hair floats for a while and is slow to sink that means your hair has a very low porosity. If it lingers in the middle then it is of medium (normal) porosity, if it quickly sinks to the bottom then your hair’s porosity is very high.
Low Porosity & Care
If your hair floated amongst the top of the glass then you have low porosity hair meaning the shingle like layers that make up your cuticle are very tight and for one reason or another are less prone to lifting and letting a lot of water, moisture or products in. That just means you have to use other methods to lift those shingles when needed like steaming and using products with metals like alkaline which cause the cuticles to swell and lift. Remember you can use all of the moisture rich products and hair regimens out there but for us low porosity chicks it won’t matter unless those shingles are open. Before my wash days I sit in my bathroom while the water runs hot and soak up the steam it creates then I put a shower cap over my head with my conditioner on it for deeper penetration.
Medium (Normal) Porosity & Care
If your hair strand lingered in the middle of the glass your hair is of medium/normal porosity. First off good for you!! This means that your cuticles (shingles) lift regularly to let plenty of water and moisture in. Keep up with whatever you’re doing to maintain this porosity and enjoy the natural shine of your natural hair.
High Porosity & Care
If your hair strand sank to the bottom very quickly then this means your hair is of high porosity. This entails that your hair cuticles (shingles) for several reasons contain a lot of cracks and openings that let a lot of water flow through. Hair with high porosity absorbs moisture and also quickly loses it. The best way to care for hair of this type is to use a lot of thick and creamy products like butters and oils for sealants. There really isn’t a way to repair the gaps and cracks but using methods like protein treatments and even aloe vera gel which bond to hair strands can fill in those cracks temporarily. The key is sealing every drop of moisture in and replacing it immediately once it’s gone.
Things To Be Cautious Of & Remember
While people with low porosity hair may want their cuticles to raise to absorb more water you do not want to drastically raise them by causing too much swelling. This can cause drastic effects to your hair. While you want your moisturiser and products to be able to penetrate, they will do so simply because they are of the right size and chemical structure to fit underneath the cuticles while they’re lifted. Conditioner causes the cuticles to lay down and shampoos that contain non ionic surfactants open them so if you co-wash try doing it on damp hair in the presence of steam. Your hair’s porosity can change based on products that you use and your diet so eat healthily and be careful of products that cause these changes (products with sulfates).
Now that you know what your hair porosity is you can adequately choose products for your hair and see better results. Do your own research and constantly search for products that work best for you. My hair’s porosity changed because I used a product containing awful chemicals and sulfates don’t let this happen to you! Read those labels ladies. I’ve recently found powdered clay containing silica, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, lithium called Rhassoul that i’ll be adding to my hair regimen! Hopefully it will help lift my low porosity cuticles, I will post an update of the results soon.