Let’s Talk Hair Porosity

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When many of us first return to natural we obsess about our hair types and curl patterns. Am I 4a or 4b? We ask ourselves, while we inspect strands of hair against a white background. As we mature as naturalistas or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who knew this early on, we realize that more important than our curl pattern is our hair porosity.

Porosity speaks to how easily or not, your hair accepts and retains moisture and chemicals such as hair color. Our hair’s porosity is determined by the outer layer of the hair, called the cuticle, the gateway through which things enter and or leave the hair strand. Porosity is genetic, but factors such as hair dyeing and other types of chemical processing, harsh manipulation, and misuse of heat can alter your hair’s natural porosity, and not for the better. Designing a hair care plan suited to your hair’s porosity is the best way to ensure that hair stays moisturized, healthy and shiny. Let’s look at the 3 types of hair porosities.

Strands of hairs of different porosities , Credit: Hairfinder.com 

I knew I was low porosity as soon as I read the definition. Primarily because I remember how difficult it was to relax and color my hair in the past. My hair was just not accepting of chemicals and often required extra strength formulations to get even the slightest results.

Low porosity

The cuticle of the hair is compact and flat, making it difficult for moisture to enter or leave the hair. Low porosity hair can be difficult to moisturize, but on the plus side, this hair type has a more natural shine that hair of other porosities.

Tips for taking care of low porosity hair include:

* Deep conditioning with heat. Heat gently lifts the cuticle of the hair so that moisture can get into the strand. Protein treatments are usually not required for low porosity hair.

* Shampoo more and co-wash less. Low porosity hair is prone to product build up so products will tend to accumulate on the strands instead of penetrating the hair shaft. Co-washing promotes build up and shampooing helps to remove build up, particularly if you clarify on a consistent basis.

* Avoid the use of heavy styling products, heavy oils, and heavy butters. These products will just sit on the hair and create buildup.

Note that low porosity hair may become porous over time if mechanical, thermal or chemical damage occurs. It is also possible to have the ends of your hair being a different porosity from the roots.

Normal porosity

Normal or medium porosity hair is the easiest to moisturized. The cuticle layer is less compact that low porosity hair and therefore allows moisture to enter with ease without allowing too much to leave. As with low porosity hair, mechanical, chemical and thermal damage can make normal porosity hair more porous so you must take care to preserve your hair.

Tips for taking care of medium porosity hair include:

* Deep condition with or without heat on normal porosity hair.

* Use protein treatments should be sparingly and only if required.

* Use light to medium weight products as product buildup is still a possibility with normal porosity hair type.

High porosity

High porosity hair may be genetic or may result from how the hair is treated. This hair type is prone to being dry and brittle and is likely to break easily. High porosity hair will take in too much water and so become frizzy, shrunken and tangled. If you live in a humid climate, you may have difficulty wearing styles such as twist-outs and braid-outs as they will tend to lose definition quickly once exposed to the moisture in the humid air. Too much water can add weight to the hair strand and cause it to break so care must be taken to keep extra moisture out of the hair. If you live in a dry climate, then the dry air will likely suck all the moisture from your hair so your hair care regimen needs to be specific to the environmental conditions as well.

Tips for taking care of high porosity hair:

* Use anti-humectants (moisture blockers) in high heat and high humidity climates. This will prevent moisture moving in an out of the hair.

* Help to keep your cuticles closed by using pH balanced products, aloe vera juice/gel or doing apple cider vinegar rinses and/or cold water rinses.

* Use heavier styling products, butters, and oils to weigh the cuticle down and keep them closed.

* Limit the use of shampoos or use milder formulations.


Take the hair porosity test

The “floating hair test” is a simple method of determining the porosity of your hair. Follow the simple steps outlined below using clean, dry and product free hair.

1. Place two or three strands of your hair into a bowl or glass of water.

2. Leave for about two to four minutes.

3. After four or so minutes have passed, check the position of your stands in your container of water. The graphic below explains how your hair will respond depending on its porosity.


 Photo Credit: Hairliciousinc.com

Many women find that determining their hair’s porosity and then tailoring their hair care regimen to match dramatically improves the health of their hair and the ease with which they are able to moisture and maintain their hair. If you’ve been there before, please share with us how learning the porosity of your changed your haircare regimen, and if this is your first introduction to porosity, I hope it offers you the insights you need to take your hair forward. It’s sure to make your hair growth journey with Shedavi’s Hair Growth Vitamin and Hair and Scalp Growth Elixir that much more effective.


  • Jamyta: March 10, 2017

    How do I moisturize and seal low porosity hair? I did the porosity test in the blog. I’ve always had a lot of hair growing up, but now in my 50’s, I don’t produce as much hair, and my hair is thinner than it used to be. My hair is fine and somewhat wavy/curly and I’m completely natural. My hair does grow but not quite as fast as it used to. I’m so tired of trying product after product thinking I’m grooming healthy hair. I’m thinking now that I don’t have healthy hair, and I know I have a lot of product build up, I spend way too much money trying to recapture a semblance of the hair I had or have healthy hair not to!!!! Is there a protective style that accommodates a thinner crown? I did try crochet braids one time, but my hair was very very dry when I took them out, although I tried to treat my hair during the protective style. I care a whole lot about my hair, and I’m tired of feeling like I’m stabbing in the dark with solutions. HELP!!

  • Safiyyah Shahid: March 10, 2017

    Really good article I had no idea about the porosity theory. My hair was silky and smooth when I was younger and became dry and frizzy and I had no idea why. This article has been the answer. Thank you.

  • Delores: March 09, 2017

    Thanks, this was so helpful…I needed to know about low porosity hair and this info informed me a lot. Now I know my do’s and don’t. Thanks!!!

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