HAIR POROSITY: The Basics

When you discover your hair porosity you can determine what treatment is best for your hair.  According to Ouidad – The Curl Experts, hair porosity is hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.  Based on what I talked about in previous posts, moisture is SOOOO important for any hair type.  However, we textured hair folks have to be more proactive about retaining moisture.  Therefore, I believe knowing your hair’s porosity is better than knowing your hair type.  There are three different hair porosity levels:  low, normal, and high.

Low Porosity.  With a low porosity hair level, it’s hard for moisture to penetrate and to truly moisturize the hair.  You could have the best products in the world; however, if you don’t get the products pass those stubborn cuticles, it will be nearly impossible to retain lots of moisture.   I understand the effects of this porosity hair level the most because I have low porosity hair.

High Porosity.  With a high porosity hair level, it’s really easy for moisture (like water) to penetrate the hair.  However, with a high porosity hair level, it’s hair to keep the moisture in the hair strands.  This is when the L.O.C (or L.C.O) method comes in handy.  The L.C.O stands for Leave-in condition, Cream, and Oil.  The Oil (or butter) is the last step because the oil is to seal in the leave-in conditioner and cream.

Normal Porosity.  As you can see low and high hair porosity requires a good technique and patience.  Normal porosity is the perfect porosity to have.   When you have normal hair porosity, moisture will enter your hair easily and will not leave quickly.  Understanding your porosity can help you determine what techniques you need to use to treat your hair.  Hair porosity helps determine not only how water enters hair strands but also how products enter hair strands.

How can you determine your hair porosity?  I determined my hair porosity based on the description of each level.  I eventually noticed it took a while for my hair to absorb water on wash days (a low porosity characteristic).  However, there are a few tests on Ouidad’s website listed below.

  • The strand test. Stretch a strand of hair.  Press two fingers together on the hair strand and slide the fingers up toward the scalp.  If your fingers move easily and it feels hard and dense, you may have low porosity.  If your fingers slide smoothly, you have normal porosity.  If the strand feels brittle and dry, you may have high porosity.
  • The shedding hair test. Take one of your shedded hairs and drop it in a glass of water.  If the strand floats, you may have low porosity hair.  If the strand slowly sinks to the bottom of the cup, you may have normal porosity.  If your strand quickly stinks to the bottom of the cup, you may have high porosity.
  • The H2O Test. This test is similar to how I determined my hair porosity.  The featured photo for this blog was a picture of my hair soaking wet.  However, my hair does not look soaking wet in the picture.  The H2O test is based on how well your hair absorbs water.  Take a small section of your hair and spray it with water.  If the hair absorbs the water quickly, you may have high porosity.  If the water appears to be sitting on top of your hair, you may have low porosity.

Low Porosity Help.  The L.C.O method is weird for low porosity hair levels because when styling it’s almost a race to get everything in your hair before the hair cuticles close.  Ever notice white residue sitting on top of your hair strands?  It’s possible you weren’t successful with opening the hair cuticles or you moved too slow when styling.  Tip:  use heat to open those stubborn hair cuticles.  For an example, use a hood dryer or hooded hair steamer when deep conditioning.  Also, remember to use rinses like apple cider vinegar (ACV) to remove build-up so it takes less time to inject the product into the hair shaft.

High Porosity Help.  Follow the L.C.O method because it will ensure you’ve trapped the moisture in the hair shaft.  Tip:  I would ditch heat when deep conditioning.  The heat isn’t necessary because the hair cuticles are already open.  The job is to get the cuticles to close once styling is completed.  Tip: Try using a water and aloe vera juice mix while styling because aloe vera juice helps seal in moisture and close hair cuticles.

light-bulbBefore I end this blog, I just want to say that hair porosity can change.  Many people with damaged hair (or relaxed ends) have high porosity.  When the hair becomes damage, the cuticles no longer want to close up.  Think about how quickly the hair became saturated with water when you had relaxed hair.  Also, think about how quickly relaxed hair ends or heat damaged hair ends become saturated.

Hopefully the information I listed above is helpful.  Thanks for reading!