Our hair is porous and it can absorb and preserve water – the hair’s capacity to do that is varied and related to our hair porosity which is low, high or medium. Once determined which level, you can easily pick the right products for your hair.
Determine your hair porosity would help choose the ideal products – shampoos, oils, conditioners, proteins, and moisturizers.
Using heat styling tools (hair straighteners, curling iron, hair dryers, etc.,) and hair products or undergoing color treatment can change your hair porosity for good or bad.
And your hair porosity is varied – even in the same hair strand, if not the different parts of the hair. That’s when one part dries quicker than others.
How to determine your hair porosity – it’s quite easy but the measurement may not be reliable
Before doing the test your hair must be clean and dry completely.
Method 1 – porosity varied on different parts of your hair
Spray all over your hair with water (you have a spray bottle and fill the water in the bottle) you would see each hair section absorb water with different rates, which determine the hair porosity of hair section.
Method 2 – hair porosity
Take a few hair strands, dip them into a full glass of water, wait a few minutes. By observing the hair strand position in the water you would know its porosity. Low if it floats, high if it’s stuck in the middle and high if it sinks to the bottom.
This test is not really reliable – because oil on hair floats on water and if your hair stand is covered with any form of oil it will float no matter your hair porosity.
The surface tension of water is another factor that prevents hair from sinking and it’s not related to hair porosity. You can get rid of the surface tension factor by dipping the hair under the surface.
The water temperature will be another decisive factor – the temperature can relax the hair structure and change the hair porosity.
Even though hair porosity is not high your hair may sink quickly because it’s heavy (by the product you applied).
Method 3 – Gas Sorption
This is expensive and you can’t do it at home. An article on NCBI introduces a novel method to measure hair porosity – by comparing the air volume in hair strands with hair strand total volume.
In order to make that comparison, a gas (air) will pass through the hair.
Well, you just figured out your hair porosity.
Low Porosity Hair
Definition: If you have flat hair (often with low elasticity) it feels dry even after you apply conditioner. And because of low porosity, it attracts product buildup and it can’t absorb products much as it would. The outermost part of the hair shaft, called cuticle is responsible for this, it is like nets overlapping on each other to create layers. These layers are situated so tight that leaves no room for moisture to penetrate.
The outermost parts of hair define the hair porosity
Is low porosity hair a sign of hair damage? Not really, you will need to moisturize hair in a proper way. Deep condition hair using hair steamer or hooded bonnet hair dryers, you can also apply warm oil or conditioner. And you should do it frequently.
Protein treatments do help low porosity hair recover moisture, you can do it every four or six weeks.
I recommend using a shampoo that doesn’t leave much buildup on your hair and they should contain ingredients that your hair easily absorbs.
If you color your hair, try natural dyes such as coffee, sage and henna.
Light oils that work great for low porosity hair like sunflower, argan, coconut, grape, almond, or avocado oils are easier to penetrate the hair shaft. You can also apply heavy oil but it’d be better to heat it up before use.
A lot of hair products may leave on your hair which prevents it from gaining moisture, and you can remove the buildup naturally by apple cider vinegar or by Dr. Bronner’s – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap.
Medium Porosity Hair
Definition: Your hair has the right balance of moisture and protein in it.
Don’t abuse heat styling tools and relaxers, your hair can be UPGRADED to higher porosity.
High Porosity Hair
Definition: you may naturally have high porosity hair that the cuticles are widely opened so the moisture easily comes in. It is a good thing if hair shaft can retain the moisture, but in reality, it quickly dries out, leaving hair frizzy.
The high porosity hair is often considered damaged hair.
To lock the moisture my suggestion is to apply heavy oils, protein or moisturizers.