Hair Porosity may be the reason your hair stays dry!

According to CurlyNikki, porosity is a term used to describe the hair’s ability to absorb moisture and chemicals into the cuticle layers and cortex. The higher the porosity, the more the hair absorbs. So hair can have low, normal or high porosity. In each of these types of porosity, the cuticle, or the outer layer of the hair, is a bit different.

In hair with low porosity, the cuticles are compact; they lie flat. Hair with low porosity typically does not absorb moisture very readily. Hair with low porosity tends to resist the absorption of hair color, chemicals, and heat, and is much more difficult to process than hair with normal porosity or high porosity. When the hair is exposed to water, the water may bead up on the hair before it actually begins to absorb. From this, you can tell that hair with high porosity will easily absorb moisture without as much effort.

In hair with normal porosity, the cuticles are raised a bit. The hair will absorb moisture more readily than hair with low porosity.

In hair with high porosity, the cuticles are raised quite a bit. Hair with high porosity absorbs moisture very quickly, which may sound good. However, the tradeoff is that hair with high porosity loses that moisture just as quickly. Damaged hair typically will show strands with high porosity, as harsh combing, coloring, relaxing, excessive heat, and stripping shampoos can damage and tear the cuticle of the hair. Hair with high porosity is also very prone to tangling because the raised cuticles can easily catch on each other. Hair with high porosity, because of its absorptive properties, can easily become over-processed.

From what CurlyNikki said, it’s quite easy to understand the science of hair porosity. At least, from the above, I can say the porosity of hair has to do with the positioning of the cuticles i.e the extent to which they are raised. Low porosity hair has cuticles that lie flat, normal hair, cuticles that are raised a bit and highly porous hair, cuticles that are raised a bit more than usual. Also I can say, the way these types of hair gain moisture is similar to the way they will retain it i.e high porosity hair will absorbs moisture quickly but will also lose it fairly quickly and i’m guessing, it’s safe to say the same about normal porosity and low porosity hair types.

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Testing Your Hair Porosity.

I remember doing a porosity test when I had a twa. Anyways, since cuticles are really tiny and microscopic, here are some ways to tell your hair porosity. These methods will let you know whether your cuticles are raised or flat.

  1. Working with clean air-dried hair, take a strand or two of your shed hair and place them in a bowl of water. If the hair floats, your hair likely has low or normal porosity. These porosities are considered to be the porosities of healthy hair. If the hair sinks immediately, or gradually sinks within a minute, the hair likely has high porosity. Again, though fast absorption might seem ideal, the hair will lose that moisture just as quickly, resulting in dry, brittle, and breaking hair. If some of the strands sink and others don’t, well then you have a blend of the porosity types.
  2. Glide your fingers up and down the strand of your hair. If it glides easily in both directions, your hair most likely has low porosity. If it glides fairly easily in one direction, and a teeny bit less easily in the other direction, your hair most likely has normal porosity. If the hair catches or feels rough in one direction or the other, the hair is most likely very porous.

You can also tell your hair porosity levels by the rate at which your hair gets wet when you’re about to shampoo. If it takes copious amounts of what before your hair is soaked, then you mostly like have low-normal porosity but if it soaks up pretty quickly, high porosity. The rate at which your hair dries to can attest to your porosity levels, high porosity hair types dries faster than low to normal porosity ones. Highly porous hair also tangles more easily than normal-low porosity hair.

From these tests, it’s safe to say I have low to normal hair porosity, which I have actually learnt to work with at least to the best of my ability.

Working with Your Hair Porosity.

  • The hair cuticle naturally lifts when exposed to heat. Therefore, those with low porosity may find that their hair will absorb products more readily when some good heat is introduced, they’ll mostly moisturize or deep-condition hair under a hooded dryer or a heat cap, or apply their products after a shower with the steam and heat still in the room or to damp hair. ‘Spritzing’ warm water instead of cool water can also help lift the cuticles a bit. Low porosity hair peeps should also beware of products with low pH as it will only enhance the flattening of cuticles thus reducing absorption of products.
  • Hair with normal porosity is right in the middle of the range; it absorbs just enough moisture, and does not release too much moisture. Care should be taken so that hair with normal porosity does not become hair with high porosity! Normal porosity peeps should be careful with the duration of time they keep relaxers for as it could be dangerous for hair health and stick to regular moisturizing, little to no heat application.
  • Hair with high porosity may be damaged. To make the hair less porous, protein treatments can be done. Proteins replenish, restore, and strengthen the hair strand. Incorporating deep conditioners with keratin would definitely go a long way. Those with highly porous hair should take extra care to seal in their moisture with oil or a butter so that they don’t lose the moisture, and should carefully protect their hair from further damage. They could also incorporate cold water into their wash-days as cold water helps to seal the cuticle flat. Sealing with Aloe Vera gel, ACV rinses and products with low pH would do a load of good.

P.S: Remember that proteins are not moisturisers (except a few i.e hydrolysed wheat protein). Using too much protein can make the hair feel too “structured” – hard, crunchy, and brittle. Your hair probably needs less if it feels this way after PLUS low to normal porosity hair don’t need as much protein treatments as highly porous hair.

What’s your hair porosity?

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