Updated: Mar 27, 2019
For those of you that are apart of the natural hair community, I'm sure you've become aware of the major emphasis that's been placed on hair porosity. I like many others out there even jumped onto the hair texture bandwagon, and found myself constantly trying to piece together what my own texture is while remaining completely oblivious to the importance of its' porosity. For awhile it seems like the only thing being discussed was hair texture, however now hair texture has taken a major backseat. The reason for this is due to the simple fact that hair texture really doesn't contribute a whole bunch to what it takes to care for your hair in the healthiest way. In fact the main advice I can lend to all my natural pals out there is to scratch the hair texture obsession and get on board with discovering your hair porosity. Eager to learn more about what I'm talking about exactly? Well let down your curls and prepare them for a treat. I have tons of information to share!
Hair Porosity? What the Heck is That??
Hair porosity is simply your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. As naturals I think it is safe to say that we all have issues with getting moisture into our hair at times. A huge reason for this is due to the fact that we aren't properly adding moisture into our hair based on our porosity. Each type of porosity requires different steps inorder to recieve the best results.
You're probably wondering okay well what the heck are the different types? How many are there? Is this some freaky math formula I have to calculate? To save you the worrying, no there is no math problem to work through. There are actually only three types of hair porosity which are: High, low, and normal. Still need further explanation as to what each of those types actually are? No worries! I have scraped up some information regarding that as well.
Normal porosity hair is honestly something to thank the man above for! Not to say the other types of porosity aren't great, but normal porosity definitely can make life easier. This type of porosity is seen as the most manageable type and requires less maintenance in order to retain moisture. The cuticle strand is just a bit looser so it allows just the right amount of moisture in while making sure not too much escapes. This type of hair can even withstand some chemicals and heat a bit more than the other types, BUT don't make yourself too comfortable with relying heavily on either. It is possible for excessive use of these things to change your hair porosity overtime. Overall though this type of hair is basically a "lazy natural's" dream come true. There really isn't much to taking care of it at all. You even have more freedom in the types of products you can use. I would say dibble and dabble to figure out your preference. However, stay away from adding protein in your hair regimen on an everyday basis. Although once in awhile a nice protein intensive deep conditioner wouldn't hurt.
Low porosity hair, although it requires some tlc, is honestly not too bad. I actually happen to be apart of the low porosity family and now that I've gotten the swing of things, it is fairly simple to care for. The cuticle strand for this type is more tightly bound making it harder for moisture to enter. This type of hair repels moisture. For example, if you notice when washing your hair it takes awhile for the water to actually drench your hair then you my friend more than likely have low porosity hair. Another example would be that when reverting your hair back from straight to curly you will notice it takes a bit longer for your hair to fully regain it's full curl. It won't just bounce right back. Since it is so hard to penetrate the cuticle then when trying to chemically process this type of hair it would be much harder to do so. Now unlike normal porosity hair there are quite a few more steps and more of a restriction on products to use. Firstly remember when attempting to moisturize it that water is your best friend. The more the merrier! In particular warm water is the best choice. This type of porosity needs a lot of heat to actually open up the cuticle to let in moisture. This means that when deep conditioning a plastic cap is a must and a hooded dryer for added steam wouldn't hurt either. It's best that when you rinse your hair it be with warm water and when applying your styling products it wouldn't hurt to do so in the shower with the steam from the water surrounding you. When it comes to products steer clear of products with protein because it will cause your hair to go into protein overload resulting in your hair feeling very stiff/ straw-like. Stick to very light moisturizers opposed to heavy. Low porosity hair gets product build up very easily and this will only suffocate your cuticles. When purchasing products make sure a key ingredient is water. Better yet, make sure one of the very first few ingredients has water listed. You and your hair will thank me later!
High porosity hair isn't the end of the world my friend, it's just a bit of a bumpier ride. Typically high porosity hair is seen as damaged hair, but this type of hair doesn't have to come from damage. This type of hair could just be your genetic hair type. This type of hair is usually, dull, dry, brittle, and the hair will dry quickly. Basically high porosity is directly the opposite of low porosity hair. What won't work for low porosity hair will more than likely work for hair with a high porosity. This type of hair has gaps and holes in its' cuticle, therefore moisture will enter easily and also leave just a easily. Your hair will be more susceptible to frizz and tangling when in humid weather. Since the cuticle is so open then chemicals, heat, and excessive rough handling of your hair will damage your hair immensely. Unlike low porosity hair needing warm water, I would give cool water a try so that whatever moisturizing products you've added into your hair will stay and seal into the cuticle. Remember how I mentioned using light products for low porosity hair? Well for you high porosity naturals, do the complete opposite. Heavy products such as creams, butters, and heavy oils will work wonders for your hair's moisture levels. The biggest key to growing long and strong high porosity hair is protein, protein, protein! Use protein filled products on a regular basis to strengthen your hair cuticles as well as adding protein deep conditioning treatments into your regular wash day routine. For my natural pals with high porosity hair co washing is actually right up your alley. Unlike low porosity hair, y'all don't have to worry as much about product build up so thorough cleanses with a shampoo isn't necessary on a weekly basis. In fact too much shampooing is detrimental to the health and strength of your hair. This will only strip away all of the moisture you've worked so hard to infuse into each precious strand of hair.
Test it Out
Now that you're an expert on each type of porosity I bet you're dying to know which one fits your hair. Well it just so happens that I have a handy dandy test for you lovelies to try out and get immediate answers.
This is called the strand test. All you need to do is take a strand or two of hair from your head and place it into a cup of water (not too hot or cold). Let the strands sit in the cup for about 5 to 10 minutes and then check back in. If the strands are floating on top that means you have low porosity hair. If the strands are floating in the middle of the water and haven't quite sunken to the bottom then you have normal porosity hair. If your hair is sunken all the way to the bottom you have high porosity hair. In some cases if you have super high porosity hair then the hair would have sunk to the bottom almost immediately upon placing it on the water.
Then boom! Just like that you now know which porosity your hair leans towards. Feel free to take what you've learned about your new found porosity and put it to use.
For us naturals, learning our hair porosity is honestly a huge life saver. This allows us to get on the right track to healthy, growing, and thriving hair. Everyday is a new part of our journey. I say it's time we take our curls and show them just how bouncy and brilliant they can be.