Porosity is the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. It is a spectrum that can be detected by characteristics of the hair strand.
As discussed in the Curl Pattern post, each hair strand has a cuticle layer. This is where porosity is determined. The cuticle layer of the hair can be loosely packed, allowing moisture to absorb and escape easily or tightly packed, resisting moisture movement through the strand. Cuticles that are loosely held together or have missing pieces are considered highly porous. Cuticles that are tightly packed together or closed are considered to be low on the porosity spectrum.
There are many indicators to help determine where on the porosity spectrum a person's hair falls. The water test, as illustrated below is one of the ways that porosity is revealed. If a strand of hair that does not have any product in it is dropped into a glass of water, whether it floats or sinks tells you how much water it absorbs, indicating where it lands on the spectrum.
Another way to tell is if you slide up a single strand of hair, can you feel nodules or is it smooth like glass? High porosity hair will likely have spaces, catching on the fingers as they slide against the grain, whereas low porosity hair will be smooth because the cuticles are closely packed together or closed.
Hair that is high in porosity requires it to be sealed when wet so that the proper hydration levels do not escape, leaving the strands dry like straw. This type of hair should avoid humectants because they are designed to help open the cuticle and allow moisture to move through the strand.
Below are some tips on caring for high porosity hair.
Hair that is low in porosity needs help to get moisture inside and allowing hydration to escape as well. If this hair type keeps moisture in for too long it could rot from the inside out in an extreme case. Low porosity hair often feels dry and brittle because it is extremely thirsty. This hair type often struggles with product build up and must be clarified on a regular basis.
Below are some tips for caring for low porosity hair.
Do you know what your hair's porosity level is? Please share in the comments below and let's discuss it!
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