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Understanding Hair Porosity: What Is It, How To Identify It, And Why Does It Matter?

Updated: Feb 8

Do you ever find yourself wondering why some hair products work perfectly on you while others don't? In this article, let’s look at what hair porosity is, how to identify it, and why it matters.

Introduction to Hair Porosity

Hair porosity refers to the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. It is determined by the structure of your hair’s cuticle, which is the outermost layer of your hair. The cuticle is made up of overlapping scales that can be either open or closed.

If your cuticle is open, your hair will be more porous and therefore more susceptible to damage from heat, chemicals, and styling. However, this also means that your hair will be able to absorb more moisture, which can be beneficial if you have dry or brittle hair.

If your cuticle is closed, your hair will be less porous and therefore more resistant to damage. This also means that it will be more difficult for your hair to absorb moisture, which can be a problem if you have oily or fine hair.

Knowing your hair porosity can help you choose the right products and styles for your individual needs. If you have high porosity hair, for example, you may need to use different conditioners and styling products than someone with low porosity hair. You may also need to take special care to avoid damaging your hair with heat or chemicals.

Types of Hair Porosity

1. Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity hair has tightly bound cuticles. This type of hair is resistant to moisture and doesn't absorb products well. If your hair feels "coated" after using products, or takes a long time to dry, you have low porosity hair.

2. Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair has moderately open cuticles. This type of hair absorbs products well and is easy to style. If your hair dries quickly and holds styles well, you have medium porosity hair.

3. High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair has very open cuticles. This type of hair absorbs moisture and products easily, but can also be prone to frizz and tangles. If your hair often feels dry and damaged, or if it's hard to manage, you have high porosity hair.

Factors That Affect Hair Porosity

There are multiple factors that can affect hair porosity.

- The type of hair: Curly or kinky hair is generally more porous than straight hair. This is because the cuticle (outer layer of the hair) is raised and open, which makes it easier for moisture and products to penetrate the hair shaft.

- Damage: Damaged hair is also more porous than healthy hair. This can be due to physical damage (such as from heat styling or chemical processing) or environmental damage (such as from UV exposure).

- Age: As we age, our hair follicles produce less keratin, which makes our hair weaker and more prone to damage. This leads to increased porosity.

- Health: Poor overall health can also lead to increased hair porosity. Conditions like anemia or thyroid problems can cause our hair to be weak and brittle, making it more susceptible to damage.

Understanding your porosity can help you choose the right products and treatments for your hair type. Knowing your porosity can help you to plan better hairstyles based on weather conditions and activities.

How do I treat my porosity?

Low porosity hair

Use light water-based styling products

  • Steam treatments and heating caps work best

  • Keep styling products away from the scalp

  • Keep sections thin when styling

  • Keep the thermostat on styling tools below 400 degrees

Medium porosity hair

  • Maintain a good conditioning routine

  • Detangle gently and take care when styling

  • Keep styling products light and focus on applying on the mid-strand to the ends of the hair

High porosity hair

  • Use masks in lieu of conditioners

  • Use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to help close the cuticle

  • Use cream detanglers or leave-in conditioners

  • Be gentle when manipulating and styling

Understanding your hair's porosity can be an invaluable tool in helping you to choose the best products and treatments for maximum results. All hair is different and what works for one person may not work as well for another. We recommend doing a simple strand test at home to determine your hair’s porosity level. This information will help you to make informed decisions about which products, styling techniques, and treatments will give you the best possible results with minimal damage. You can keep your hair healthy, strong, and beautiful!

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