What Is Hair Porosity and Why’s Everyone Asking About It?

On a normal weekday at Uncle Funky’s Daughter, as our social media team is checking and responding to all our Funky Junkies’ comments, questions and compliments, we come across one particular topic A LOT. You guessed it: hair porosity (Did the headline give it away?). From the slew of inquiries we receive, these are some of the most common: ‘How will this product work on low porosity hair?’ ‘How do I know my hair’s porosity level?’ ‘Are there any products that work best for type ___ hair?’ This week on our ChatBox, were taking a sec to address and answer these all in one place (so when we refer you to this article, please don’t take offense!) We wrote this especially for you!

Hair porosity, in short, is the ability of a person’s hair to absorb and hold moisture. It’s ranked three ways, normal, low or high. Simple right? The not-so-simple part of this is knowing what each level means and how to assess your hair to figure out which one it falls under.

Determining your porosity level is the first step to better moisturizing your hair.

If your hair has normal porosity, it pretty much does what it’s required to without much extra. It retains moisture at a normal rate. Your curls likely have much body (aka elasticity and the bounce we all try and achieve), require very little maintenance and hold styles for the most part.

Low porosity hair is that which has tight cuticles and is resistant to moisture. Its difficult for water or products to get through. More characteristics of low porosity hair include extended drying times, product/ build up on the surface (because your hair hasn’t absorbed it). This also causes the hair to weigh itself down. High porosity hair is  that which has looser cuticles and sometimes gaps, tears and openings that allow moisture to easily permeate it. Basically, it absorbs moisture quickly but loses it just as fast. Your curls absorb water fairly easily but still require more products to retain moisture and achieve styles. They’re also more likely to feel dry, frizzy, and when styling your hair, a good benchmark on how to figure out its porosity is if it dries very quickly.

Not quite sure where your curls lie on the spectrum?

According to Essence, the water porosity test is a great measure for this. Here’s how to do it: “First, drop a strand of clean hair in a glass [or bowl] of water. If the strand immediately sinks to the bottom, your hair is of high porosity. If it lingers about midway in the glass, it’s of normal porosity. If the strand floats towards the top and it takes a while for it to sink, your strands are of low porosity.”

Why’s this even important?

Here’s a magnified example of high porosity v. normal porosity strands.

Its important to know what your hair’s processes are so you know how to take care of it, which types of products to use and estimate results when it comes to styling your hair.

For low porosity hair, using products that contain more alkaline ingredients will help open the pores. Products with a low pH should be avoided because high acidity closes cuticles and keep them closed. If your hair’s dying for moisture, use a steamer! They’re a great help when it comes to lifting the cuticle/opening the pore, saving the day and getting moisture to your hair.

High porosity hair requires the opposite. It requires heavier, more moisturizing products because your hair loses its moisture so quickly (i.e. butters and oils). Using as little heat as possible is ideal; air dry when possible! To avoid pulling, use wider toothed combs, as brittle hair can easily shed when using smaller hair tools. You want to be as delicate as possible with your curls!

“Also, rinsing your hair regularly using an apple cider vinegar mix, and applying aloe vera gel and protein treatments to temporarily fill gaps can help manage high porous hair,” per Essence. “There is no way to completely repair high porous hair, but you can try by using these quick and easy tips.”

We hope this helps clear up some of your questions; see you on social media! If you don’t already, be sure and follow us on all our platforms below:

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