Understanding hair porosity is one of the complicated parts about natural hair care. Porosity refers to how much your hair can retain moisture. There are many factors that tie into this such as: curl texture, the amount of moisture it absorbs and retains and the structure of your cuticle. When referring to the levels of porosity, there are three: low, normal and high
Low porosity hair resists moisture but once it’s in, it stays in for a while. It is recommended that those with low porosity hair stick to light products to avoid buildup and use moisture-rich products like styling creams, oils, coconut oil and Shea butter.
Normal porosity hair allows for an even flow of moisture in and out of your hair. This hair type retains styles well and can coloring if done with monthly gaps in between. It is imperative that this hair type receives deep conditioning at least once a week.
High porosity hair has gaps in its cuticle layer resulting in moisture being able to leave the same way it came in- fast. This type of hair is very prone to breakage so it is important to seal it when styling. Thick products like oils, custards and puddings are recommended for those with high porosity.
Still not sure where your hair falls on the porosity scale? Conduct this quick and easy test right at home:
The Float Test
1. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water.
2. Take a couple strands of your hair (about three) and place them in the water. Make sure your hair is clean and fresh when conducting this test (no product)!
3. Wait 3-5 minutes.
4. If the strands take a long time to sink and are still sinking after the 3-5 minutes, you have low porosity hair.
5. If they sink slowly but sooner than the 3-5 minutes, you have normal porosity.
6. If your hair sinks immediately, then you have high porosity.
Having knowledge of how porous your hair is is helpful in the long run. It’ll help you choose the right products for your hair, what styles will effectively work for you and how often should you deep condition it. Many people overlook the importance of porosity and end up having to do damage control on their hair because they were not properly informed on how it works.