What Is Hair Porosity and Does My Hair Porosity Type Matter?

What is hair porosity?

Porosity is the hair’s ability to absorb moisture. It is essentially the grade of how moisture and oil can permeate the cuticles in your hair. Though largely dependent on genetics, factors like chemical processing, heat and environmental damage can alter hair porosity. In this article, we are going to discuss in depth and understand types of porosity so you can know how well to treat your hair.

There are three types of porosity; high, medium and low.

High porosity hair

This is when the cuticles are too open allowing moisture to easily be absorbed. This may seem appealing to most people, but it has its own advantages and disadvantages i.e., the moisture can easily be absorbed, but quickly lost due the open cuticles. Essentially, the cuticles do not close up again after moisture is absorbed so it is lost just as easy.  This can be caused by heat damage, dyeing your hair, or in some cases just your genetics.

A hydrolysed protein treatment every 4-6 weeks will help fill in the gaps in the hair cuticles. Use hair butters and oils to help your hair retain moisture and to make your hair more manageable.  

Medium porosity hair

For medium (normal) porosity, the cuticles are not too loose or too tight. They are just right, allowing easy absorption of moisture and retention for longer. Colouring is very easy to do on this hair type but avoid over processing it too much. 

 Low porosity hair

This is when the cuticle is packed, tightly bound and lays flat making it almost impossible to let any kind of moisture penetrate into the hair. This condition is purely genetic. Water ends up getting beads on the surface since it cannot get through and once soaked, it takes a long time to dry. It is also very hard to dye this hair type. 

Use heat or a dryer when washing or conditioning your hair to help open up your cuticles so your conditioner will be more easily absorbed. A hot oil treatment also works great too.

How to determine your hair porosity

 The "Float Test" is commonly recommended as a way of finding out how porous your hair is. You take a couple of strands of hair and drop it into a bowl of water.  If your hair floats then it has low porosity. If it sinks then it has high porosity. 

This method has now largely been debunked as "junk science" as hair will generally float because it has a layer of oil covering it.

Hair Porosity Float Test
So a simple test like this isn't very scientific and won't be conclusive. I recommend you try different products and methods to moisturise your hair and find exactly what works for you. 

In conclusion

Hair porosity has become a somewhat controversial subject in the natural hair community. Some argue that it is most important to know your porosity before choosing suitable products while others argue that porosity isn't important and there are other factors you should focus on to keep your hair properly moisturised. I believe the truth is somewhere in between. What do you think ?

Leave a comment