Porosity is the measurement of the hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture, with unbalanced porosity, hair products are defenceless and will not perform the way you hope. There are three levels of porosity: low, medium, and high. Each hair strand has an outer shell of cuticles that open and close to absorb moisture and lock it in.
Hair porosity types are determined by how open or closed the shingles are, changing either for the good or bad. Products, styling practices, and hair dyeing are all things that can leave your hair open to a vulnerable state. This means that moisture is free to enter the cuticle, but the cuticles are not able to close to seal it in. This is due to the hair having high porosity.
Whereas, if the cuticle is hard to open and not a lot of moisture can get in at all, this is called low porosity. Tighter hair textures have cuticles that overlap with each other tend to have low porosity, hair will look naturally start to look and feel dry. With low porosity hair, water sits on top of the hair and doesn’t penetrate the outer layer cuticle easily.
Can you test hair porosity?
Knowing your hair porosity can be a helpful tool when finding ways to better your haircare. As mentioned, the type of porosity on your hair can affect the way your products and styling practices perform on the strand. Here is how you test for hair porosity:
- Start by filling a glass of water: Since porosity is all about moisture retention, you can test how well hair absorbs by analysing the way a strand reacts when submerged in water.
- Drop a few strands of hair in the glass: Your hair’s porosity can change depending on your styling habits and products you use, as well as different curl patterns on your head, so it is best to take a few strands from different points.
- See where it lands: If your hair immediately sinks to the bottom, then it is highly porous. If it floats in the middle, then it falls within the medium (or normal) porosity range. If the hair does not move, and stays sitting on top, then it has low porosity.
How to care for low porosity hair
After you shampoo and condition your hair, you will need to choose a product cocktail that packed with moisturising properties. Using leave in treatments that lock in moisture ensures that dry strands with low porosity can receive 24/7 moisture, until the next wash. We recommend always adding a moisturising product before adding heat defence or begin styling – even if it is not freshly washed hair. This will help to prevent drying your hair out further with product and styling practices.
How to care for medium porosity hair
This is the type of porosity where finding the delicate balance is most essential. Medium porosity means that not only can your hair take in moisture, it is also able to retain it for longer. For normal porosity hair, use products that are kept on for longer – e.g., hair masks, leave in conditioners and heat protectants. Use styling products that aren’t too heavy, styling creams usually work best on this type of porosity.
Although medium porosity is the ideal type to have, it doesn’t mean it is easy to maintain, it does take some effort to keep that balance. Try not to go overboard with chemical processes or heat styling too frequently. These will compromise your hair porosity.
How to care for high porosity hair
While there is both positives and negatives to having highly porous hair, it usually means your hair has been damaged and the cuticles have been disrupted. Colouring your hair, heat styling and particular ingredients have caused the cuticle to lift so it no longer lays down or closes as it should. Open cuticles means plenty of moisture can get in but will ultimately fall back out. The purpose of caring for your hair, when it is like this, is to find products that lock in the moisture you’re able to put into it. Look for repairing products that restructure damaged hair, these will saturate the hair with a formula that lays over the cuticle to close it. Pair repairing products with a lightweight, everyday oil to moisturise deeper and smooth frizz and flyaways sure to be left behind.
Knowing they type of porosity you have and how to look after it is an essential step in optimising your hair care. Knowing the porosity will change the way you select and use product or approach certain styling practices. Doing the porosity test allows you to visibly see how well your hair is absorbing and retaining moisture which is a good indicator of how it will interact with products.
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