How to know your hair porosity and achieve great hair care
Hair porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb moisture and retain it. Moisture is important in your hair because it helps prevent breakage during handling.
Handling is not only restricted to washing and combing even styling protective style can cause hair to break.
If your hair is dry it is possible for it to break easily even when you handle with care.
At a point I noticed my hair was dry and breaking. I try using different shampoos and oils. Recently, I even stopped using shampoos. Hoping to see changes but to my surprise there is little or no changes.
As it turns out, products switch-up and consistent hair care regimen without knowledge about why your hair reacts the way it does yields undesirable results.
It is not that the products are not working! It is a case of being right in principle but wrong in practice.
Hair porosity is a must-know first step for an effective hair care. Because it determines what you can and can’t do to meet your hair goal.
There Are 3 Types of Hair Porosity
High Hair Porosity-
Your hair is highly porous if it absorbs a lot of water very quickly but also releases moisture very quickly.
Low Hair Porosity-
Low hair porosity will have hard time taking in water. such as, if you get under the shower and it feels like your hair is taking time to take in water or you have hard time getting it soaked with water. The good side about low porosity is that it keeps a lot of the moisture it take in.
Medium Hair Porosity-
Medium Hair porosity allows water to enter and stay in the core. Water does not escape easily because the cuticle is neither highly raised or closed.
How To Determine Your Hair Porosity
Hair Porosity is determined by genetics. Your hair porosity can also change over time. What will cause your hair porosity to change is due to damages to the cuticle layer.
For instance, chemical processing such as relaxers or hair coloring. Sure damages can increase the porosity of your hair. Also,daily maintenance like shampooing, conditioning can increase your hair porosity.
Hair Porosity Tests…..
#1. Water Test
The most common hair porosity test is the water test. You drop a strand of your hair into a glass of room temperature water for 1-2 minutes…..
- High porosity – will sink almost immediately.
- Medium porosity – hovers in the middle of the glass for 1 – 2 minutes before sinking.
- Low porosity – floats for more than 1 – 2 minutes before sinking.
#2. Feel Test
Some people run their thumb and middle finger over a few strands of clean (product free) shed hair going from the ends to the root and back down.
- High porosity – extremely rough & jagged going from both directions.
- Medium porosity: smooth going from root to ends but slightly jagged going ends to roots.
- Low porosity: extremely smooth in both directions.
#3. Hair Porosity Sponge Experiment
In this video by sister scientist Erica shows how hair porosity can be likened to your regular kitchen sponge.
According to Erica, If you use the old hair strand in a cup of water test; you will get inaccurate result.
It’s not correct because sebum, an oil your scalp naturally produces coats the hair. As you know oil repels water, so in the majority of cases your hair will float.
The best way to determine your porosity is how your hair reacts to water under shower. Does it suck in water rapidly and become super dry afterward?( High Porosity). Or does it take forever to absorb the water? (Low porosity) No issues at all? (Medium Porosity)
In Erica’s hair porosity sponge experiment, she likened hair porosity to how your regular kitchen sponges works. A sponge is made to absorb and release water through its pores almost just like hair.
To show she submerged two sponges one with scrubber and the other without into two different bows that contain 1/4 cup of water. She left them for about an hour to see how much water each sponge will absorb.
At the end of 1 hour the sponge with scrubber on one side representing low porous hair only absorb half as much water as the other sponge.
This tell us that hair with low porosity has problem absorbing moisture in comparison with hair with high porosity.
Next, to see how fast each sponge will release moisture. She placed the sponges outside for an hour. After an hour the traditional sponge released almost twice as much water as the sponge with scrubber. This illustrates that hair with high porosity loses moisture quicker than hair with low porosity.
Once you have being able to determine your hair porosity the next thing is how to care for your hair properly.
How to Care for Low Porous Hair
Lighter oils: You will want to use oils that are on the lighter side and are easily absorbed otherwise the oil just end up creating a layer of buildup. Oils like Jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, Argan oil
Styling: When styling make sure you towel dry hair thoroughly to remove excess moisture so you can style damp hair and not saturated hair. This helps out tremendously when it comes to drying time. Then apply your products and style.
Steamer: Incorporate steamer into your hair regimen. Steaming lifts your hair cuticle allowing treatments to penetrate deeply into your hair shaft.
Humectants: Use products that contain humectants like Aloe Vera, Vegetable Glycerin, Honey and Agave Nectar propylene Glycol that will help draw moisture from the air to your hair.
Alkaline Water: try soaking your hair in alkaline water just to slightly increase the ph level of the hair. Which in turn helps open the cuticle more and allow your hair infuse more moisture into the strand.
How to Care for High Porosity Hair
- Use Heavy Oils and Rich Butter and Cream
High porosity hair benefits from using heavy oils (castor oil, olive oil & coconut oil) and butters (whipped shea) that help to prevent moisture loss by creating a protective barrier.
- Protein Treatment
Protein treatments (wheat protein, amino acid & hydrolyzed protein) are recommended to help fill in the gaps and holes that make it challenging to keep moisture in high porosity hair. Hair is made of Keratin which is a protein. When you use protein treatments it helps to build up and fill in the areas that may be lacking. Think of it like a Spackle job.
- Deep Condition Your Hair
Using leave-in conditioners, moisturizers and sealer will help your hair hold moisture better.
Sometimes apple cider vinegar rinse
How to Care for Medium Porosity Hair
Your hair may benefit from the occasional protein treatment, if you think you have incurred or could potentially be exposed to heat or chemical damage. However, you should limit your usage of protein to an as needed basis.
Unlike high porosity hair, there are little to no gaps or holes that need treatment. So frequent usage of protein is just not necessary.
Hair with normal porosity has the least required amount of upkeep.
You may want to try products on the lighter side to avoid product buildup and weighed down hair, as heavier products are not a must have for this porosity type.