How well does your hair hold moisture? And why does that question even matter? The answer is simple: hair health. And knowing the answer to this not-so-simple question puts you square on the path to understanding your hair porosity.
Hair porosity, or how well your hair holds on to the moisture it receives, is an important part in choosing products. It is based on how porous your hair is and is also instrumental in building a healthy hair regimen. In fact, understanding hair porosity helps Naturalistas define how well their hair can maintain regular hydration in order to care for their tresses and plan ahead for seasonal changes. There are three main porosity types. We’ll cover each one with enough detail to help you find your specific hair porosity.
Hair Porosity Types
As we mentioned above, there are three general categories for hair porosity. The three types of hair porosity are low, normal (or medium), and high. Let’s start with a quick overview:
Low Porosity Hair
Low porosity hair struggles to absorb and hold moisture. This is caused by closed cuticles in the hair shaft. As the name suggests, this hair type is not very porous. In other words, it doesn’t have many ‘holes’ or openings and so, it is hard for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. To combat this, “low-po” Naturals often use a steamer to help hydrate their tresses in just a few short minutes. Steamers propel moisture into the hair shaft and under the cuticles to maximize hydration that low porosity hair would have otherwise rejected. The most popular steamer for Naturals, especially across YouTube is the Q-Redew Handheld Steamer.
Low porosity hair also often suffers from product build-up since product is more likely to sit on top of the hair rather than penetrate it. Low porosity hair may also have trouble holding on to hair dyes or color. It can also take much longer to dry because the water does not have many pores through which it can escape.
How can I tell if I have low porosity hair? If it takes your hair hours to dry and products just seem to sit on top of your hair, you may have low porosity hair.How can I tell if I have low porosity hair? If it takes your hair hours to dry and products just seem to sit on top of your hair, you may have low porosity hair.CLICK TO TWEET
High Porosity Hair
High porosity hair, on the other hand, accepts and loses moisture very quickly thanks to its open cuticles. The term “high porosity” refers to the many openings in the hair which allow the strands to take in moisture quickly. Unfortunately, this also means it loses moisture just as fast. High porosity hair dries quickly and is notorious for frizzing and tangling very easily.
How can I tell if I have high porosity hair? If any of the above symptoms sound like you, you may be a high porosity Natural.How can I tell if I have high porosity hair? If you lose moisture as quickly as you obtain it, you may be a high porosity Natural.CLICK TO TWEET
Normal/Medium Porosity Hair
Normal or medium porosity hair is the best of both worlds. This kind of hair accepts moisture relatively easily like high porosity hair and retains it as well as low porosity hair making it the perfect balance when it comes to hydration. Think of it as the warm bowl of porridge from Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. It’s not on either extreme, but rather right in the middle.
How can I tell if I have normal porosity hair? If you have little complaints about how well your hair stays moisturized, you might be a medium porosity natural.
How Do I Know My Hair Type? — Testing Hair Porosity
There are literally dozens of ways to find your porosity. You can either estimate your category from the descriptions above, or take an easy DIY home test to find out your results. The following tests easy to do and you likely already have all the materials you need right at home.
Here are the three most popular test options.
Testing Your Hair Porosity
1. The Float Test
This is probably the simplest of all the tests. To find your hair porosity simply fill a glass with water, then take a strand of clean hair and put it on top of the water. If the hair strand floats, you have low porosity hair. If it sinks to the bottom, you have high porosity hair. It’s that simple.
2. The Spray Bottle Test
This is another super simple porosity test. In this test, just spray water on clean, dry hair. Hair with standing beads of water post spray indicates low porosity hair. Hair that absorbs the water quickly (less than 2 minutes) is likely medium or high porosity hair.
Given the apparent beading shown on the hair model on the right, this model most likely has low porosity hair.
3. The Strand Test
In this hair porosity test, gently drag your fingers against your hair shaft going from ends to roots. If the hair shaft is bumpy with ridges, you have high porosity hair. Smooth and straight strands indicate low porosity.
If you find that you’re in the middle of any or all of these tests, you likely have normal porosity.
Using Your Hair Porosity Results To Your Advantage
It’s important to note that with all the hair porosity tests, you’ll need to start off on clean, dry hair. Doing these tests with product in your hair may skew your results because the residual hair products might be filling in your hair’s cuticles.
Let’s take, for example, hair that is full of a sealant like silicone or a natural oil, your hair may mimic a lower porosity type than it actually is. For best results, try any (or all!) of the above tests following your wash day before adding any additional products.
Understanding your tresses and how porous they are It’s a critical aspect for natural hair success. Knowledge is power, and learning about all the aspects of your hair will enable you to make the best choices for your hair goals.