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What is Hair Porosity—and Why Does it Matter?

Ever noticed that no matter what you do, your hair just stays dry? Or how no matter how much product you use, it just won’t take? Whether you’re dealing with a lack of moisture or the ability to hold onto moisture, well—then—this blog post is for you.

While you’ve probably heard of curl patterns 1 to 4 and A to C, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to understanding your hair porosity. Essentially, hair porosity refers to how your hair can retain and absorb moisture.

If you didn’t know, there are three parts to a strand of hair:

  • The cuticle: The outer-most, protective layer of your hair that’s (imagine something like shingles on a roof)
  • The cortex: The thickest layer of your hair
  • The medulla: The soft, inner part of your hair shaft 

For your hair to stay healthy and hydrated, water, oils, and other moisturizing products need to be able to pass through the cuticle to get to the cortex. By understanding the porosity of your hair, you’ll get a better sense of how well oils and moisture pass in and out of the outermost layer of your hair, a.k.a. the hair cuticle.

The three types of hair porosity 

Similar to our hair patterns, porosity can be broken down into three categories: low porosity, medium/normal porosity, and high porosity.

Signs you may have low porosity hair

This type of porosity means the cuticles are tightly together, making it difficult for moisturizing products to get to the hair’s core. Your hair may have low porosity if:

  • It’s hard for your hair to absorb hair products
  • It’s also hard for water to saturate your hair
  • It feels like forever when drying your hair—especially when airdrying

Signs you may have medium porosity hair

The happy medium, pun intended, this porosity is great for absorbing moisture, while retaining it as well. Your hair may have medium porosity if:

  • It’s quite easy to style your hair—and your hair can hold the style for long periods of time, too
  • Your hair takes color well
  • Your hair naturally tends to look healthy and glossy 

Signs you may have high porosity hair

Unlike low porosity hair, those with high porosity may notice it’s quite easy for their hair to absorb moisture. That’s because in high porosity situations, the cuticles tend to have more gaps between them, allowing for products to penetrate the surface. However, because of those gaps, it’s actually hard for hair to retain the moisture, too. Your hair may be high porosity if:

  • It’s easy for your hair to quickly absorb water and other moisturizing products
  • Your hair breaks easily  
  • Your hair tends to look and feel frizzy and dry
  • It dries quickly when air dried.

How to find out your hair porosity—right at home!

It’s actually pretty easy to DIY! All you need is a glass of water (use a clear one) and a strand of hair:

Hair porosity test, a strand of hair floating in a glass of water

  1. Wash out any product or build-up from your strands, prior to testing, to get the most accurate results.
  2. Fill a glass with water.
  3. Once your hair is dry, drop a single strand of your hair into the glass of water.
  4. For 2 to 4 minutes, watch the strand to see if it sinks to the bottom of the glass or floats at the top.

If the strand floats at the top, you likely have low porosity hair. If the strand sinks quickly to the bottom, you likely have high porosity hair. And if it floats then slowly sinks, your hair porosity is probably somewhere in the middle. 

What affects hair porosity and can you change it?

Although genetics are the main factor when it comes to your hair porosity, some actions you take in your day-to-day may negatively change your hair from a medium porosity to a higher porosity. 

The more you blow dry, use heat styling tools, bleach, over-wash, or use harsh products on your hair, the more it’ll be prone to damage. Even too much UV exposure from the sun can also negatively affect your porosity. So wear your hat and use your heat protecting products!

How to care for your hair based on your porosity

For low porosity hair:

  • Apply conditioner to wet hair, as this helps dilute the conditioner making it easier for your hair to absorb it.
  • You can also apply your hair products before stepping out of your shower and try a deep-conditioning mask, like the Love Hair Nourishing Treatment Mask, often to give your hair some TLC
  • Give your hair a deep condition and some extra tender, loving, care. Steam your hair, use a heat cap, or even a hooded dryer when applying conditioner in your hair. But, if you don’t have those on hand, put a shower cap on over your hair—with conditioner in it—and let it sit for a couple minutes.

For medium porosity hair:

  • The best way to keep your hair healthy is to ensure you’re doing minimal damage to your locks: that means always using a heat protectant before using heat styling tools
  • Use haircare products with natural ingredients, and no sulfates, to give your hair a gentle cleanse, while also retaining its healthy and shiny look

For high porosity hair:

  • Look for ingredients like butters and oils in shampoos and conditioners—like the Love Hair Duo Bundle which is packed with certified organic oils—to give your hair the added moisture it needs.
  • Use a heat protectant product on your hair before blow drying, using curlers, or straighteners to help avoid damage.
  • Don’t use hot water when washing your hair. Opt for lukewarm instead.
  • Seal in the moisture after each shower with hair oil, like the Nourishing Hair Oil, to help your hair retain product

Because, the more you understand the root of your hair—pun intended—the more you’ll know the best course of action to give your hair the care it needs.  

Unfortunately, you can’t completely change your hair porosity from one to another, but the better you care for your hair, the more you’re able to ensure it stays healthy and strong, with a shine.

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