Hair Porosity—Yea, It’s Kind of a Big Deal

Hair Porosity—Yea, It’s Kind of a Big Deal

The other week in my post about sealing your hair, I mentioned hair porosity. Porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb moisture (water) and is categorized by having low, normal or high porosity. Knowing which type you have is really important because it helps determine your hair needs. It can also explain why certain products work well in someone else’s hair but not yours. Personally, I feel hair porosity is more important than curl pattern/type—just because your hair looks like someone else’s, doesn’t mean what products they use will yield the same results in yours.

Ok, that’s great, soooo how do I know my hair’s porosity?

There’s a couple of ways, as in all things, nothing is 100% accurate so it’s best to just try different things and pay attention to what type of products/ingredients your hair responds to best. You’ll be able to see a pattern. But for now, here’s an exciting :o) test I found on the net:

The Glass Water Test: Take a clean strand of shed hair (a hair from your scalp, not a broken off piece) and place it in a glass of water. You have:

High porosity – Your hair immediately sinks; your hair cuticle is open so it absorbs moisture easily

Low porosity – Your hair sits on top of the water; your hair cuticle is compact so it does not absorb moisture easily

Normal porosity – Your hair sinks to the bottom of the glass slowly; you are lucky and your hair absorbs moisture normally (grrrr….)

This graphic from helps illustrate the hair cuticle and porosity (I’m a visual learner…I need visuals! lol)

Also, check this awesome video from my other fav hair blogger, Elle from Quest for the Perfect Curl. It goes into a bit more detail on this whole porosity shabang.

Low Porosity Hair

Hair does not absorb moisture easily because the hair cuticle is compact, but once the hair cuticle is opened, it stays moisturized longer since moisture can’t escape easily.

Products tend to “sit” on top of hair and can look beaded or white. Eventually it absorbs into hair but It’s best to use lighter products and don’t go too heavy with them. You only need to re-moisturize every few days or so.

It takes awhile for hair to “get wet” in the shower and water looks “beaded”

Your hair doesn’t take to color very well, meaning it takes longer for color to process (but on the box the chart said my hair would be that color!).

Types of ingredients/products best for Low porosity hair.

  • Humectants i.e. aloe vera, Glycerin (*NOTE: humectants work best in climates that are humid; if you live in dry areas, humectants can pull moisture from your hair rather than the air and can dry it out)
  • Lighter oils
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Steam treatments
  • Ayurvedic treatments (help open cuticle)
  • Products with higher pH

High Porosity Hair

Hair absorbs moisture easily/fast yet becomes dry/frizzy. You have to moisturize often because hair cuticle is open and moisture leaves as quickly as it enters.

Moisturize at least once a day and be sure to seal your hair so moisture can’t get out.

Hair can get really dry, prone to breakage and split ends, needs a little more TLC :o)

Hair can become overly porous if you have over-processed hair i.e. color, relaxer, texturizer. The strands of your hair feel rough and uneven.

Types of ingredients/products best for High porosity hair.

  • Proteins (helps fill the gaps in the hair cuticle)
  • Henna treatments
  • High-acidic conditioners (low pH; specified for damaged or color-treated hair)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar rinses (helps seal the cuticle)
  • Thick butters
  • Heavier oils
  • Water-based moisturizers
  • Cold water rinses
  • Products with lower pH

I am no scientist but hopefully this makes sense and gives you a better idea of the importance of porosity. After doing research on hair porosity, I definitely had to re-think some things I had been doing my regimen so I plan to make updates to it soon! Do your own research, pay attention to ingredients in your hair products and listen to your hair :o)

Oh how the journey of a natural is never ending…

3 Responses

    • Hey Natasha! I wouldn’t say it’s bad but I would just be cautious with products that contain it since it is a humectant. If you live in dry climates, it can pull the moisture FROM your hair rather than TO your hair which can dry it out even more. If you live in a humid area, it can make your hair frizzy because its rapidly pulling moisture TO your hair. Give it a try and see how your hair reacts to it!