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What Is Hair Porosity And How Can It Help Decide The Best Hair Care Routine For You?

Do you wonder why your hair gets more damaged/frizzier than others? Well, hair porosity has a great role to play in determining that. Just like we have different skin types, our hair also differs and no we aren't talking about straight hair or curly hair. Our hair has pores just like our skin and this plays a crucial role in our determining our hair texture.

Being aware of the hair porosity level of your hair will help you make an informed decision about the products that you use on your hair and also to know and care for your hair in a better way.

But first, you need to understand what is hair porosity and then start this roller-coaster ride to know all that you need to about it.

What Is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity means the capacity of the hair to absorb and retain moisture and this factor is determined at the cuticle level of the hair strand. Hence, this is a minute factor that has major effects.

There are different levels of hair porosity. These are low, normal and high hair porosity and these levels determine your hair care routine. Hair porosity, more or less, is a genetic factor, but external factors such as dirt, pollution, exposure to the sun, chemicals used and heat styling products can affect your hair porosity as well[1] . It is also to be noted that damaged hair is more porous[2] and the low porosity hair are less prone to damage and frizziness.

Let's know a little more about the different types of hair porosity.

Types Of Hair Porosity

1. Low porosity

Low porosity hair is the one with tightly knit cuticle layer. The scales in the cuticle layer lay flat against each other and therefore it becomes difficult to absorb moisture for it. But, at the same time, it has an amazing retaining capacity of the moisture that already exists.

The close-knit texture of the hair also makes it difficult for the oils and hair products to get absorbed into the hair, which in turns lead to product build-up on the scalp over a period of time.

Here are some prominent features of low porosity hair.

  • The hair takes a longer time to dry.
  • Chemical treatments are a task.
  • It is less prone to damage and breakage.
  • It doesn't have much elasticity.
  • Susceptible to product build-up.
  • Doesn't soak up the natural oils properly.

2. Normal porosity

Normal porosity hair needs the least amount of maintenance. The scales in the cuticle layer are loose enough for the moisture to get absorbed properly and also for the right amount of moisture to be retained in the hair.

These strands are the easiest to style and colour. The chemicals treatments show up the best in normal porosity hair, but be careful and don't overdo it.

Here are the prominent features of normal porosity hair.

  • It is thick and bouncy.
  • It has great elasticity.
  • Can hold various hairstyles.
  • It is not frizzy.
  • Less product build-up.

3. High porosity

High porosity hair needs a lot of maintenance and care. The scales of the cuticle layer are raised in this case. This allows for faster absorption and subsequent loss of moisture. Being highly porous, these strands lose moister at a faster rate and become frizzy and damaged. Curly hair usually tends to be highly porous.

Here are some prominent features of high porosity hair:

  • It dries quickly.
  • It is very frizzy.
  • It is difficult to manage.
  • The hair gets easily tangled.
  • It is more prone to breakage.
  • It needs more products.

How To Test Your Hair Porosity

Here are a few tests that you can do to check your hair porosity. Make sure when you perform these tests that your hair are clean and don't have any residue on it.

1. The float test

  • Pull out a strand of your hair.
  • Put the hair strand in a glass bowl full of water.
  • Notice it for a few minutes.
  • If the hair strand immediately sinks to the bottom of the bowl, it has high porosity.
  • If it floats on or in the middle of the bowl after the time has passed, it has low porosity.
  • If it slowly sinks into the bottom of the pool, it has normal poroisity.

2. The slide test

  • Take a few strands of your hair, stretch and hold it in front of your face.
  • Use the thumb and index finger of the other hand and start sliding it towards your scalp from the tip of the hair.
  • If it goes smoothly, your hair has normal porosity.
  • If it feels bumpy, rough or it breaks, your hair has high porosity.
  • If it moves easily but feels dense, your hair has low porosity.

3. The hair drying test

  • Dampen your hair and notice how much time it takes to dry.
  • If it dries fast, it has a high porosity.
  • If it dries at a regular pace, it has normal porosity.
  • If it takes too long to dry, it has low porosity.

4. The water test

  • Hold a few strands of your hair in front of your face.
  • Spray some water on it.
  • If the water collects on top of your hair strands, it has low porosity.
  • If the water is immediately absorbed, your hair has high porosity.
  • If the water remains on the strands for a few seconds and then gets absorbed, it has normal porosity.

5. The tangle test

  • If your hair gets tangled easily, it has high porosity.
  • If your hair doesn't get tangled often, it has low porosity.
  • If it is in the middle, your hair has normal porosity.

6. The absorption test

  • Observe how long does it take for various hair products and natural oils to get absorbed into your hair.
  • If they get absorbed quickly, your hair has high porosity.
  • If they get absorbed slowly, your hair has low porosity.
  • If they get absorbed at a normal pace, your hair has normal porosity.

How To Care For Your Hair Depending On The Hair Porosity

Now that you have done the test and found the porosity of your hair, you need to know how exactly to care for your hair. Whether your hair has high porosity or low, with proper care and maintenance, you can get healthy and luscious hair.

Here is how you can care for your hair depending on the hair porosity.

1. High porosity

Hair with high porosity is the most prone to damage and you need to be extra careful while taking care of your hair. Here are some important tips that will help.

  • Use leave-in conditioners. This will help to nourish your hair strands and prevent the loss of moisture from your hair.
  • Give your hair an oil massage on a regular basis. You can use oils like coconut oil and olive oil.
  • Refrain from using heat-styling tools frequently.
  • Air dry your hair.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair.
  • Use cold water to rinse your hair.
  • Limit the use of hair products such as hair sprays and hair serums.

2. Normal porosity

It is quite easy to manage hair with normal porosity. It responds well to all products and treatments. But, here is one important tip that you need to remember.

  • Don't go overboard with the products or the treatments. It will damage your hair eventually.

3. Low porosity

The main issue with low porosity hair is the build-up of products which can lead to hair damage in the long run. Here are a few tips to help you.

  • Steam your hair every once in a while to improve absorption.
  • Don't use too many products.
  • Maintain a clean scalp.
  • Use light oils like argan oil, jojoba oil and coconut oil to pamper your hair.
  • Use sulphate-free shampoos.
View Article References
  1. [1] Hessefort, Y. Z., Holland, B. T., & Cloud, R. W. (2008). True porosity measurement of hair: a new way to study hair damage mechanisms.Journal of cosmetic science,59(4), 303.
  2. [2] Dias, M. F. R. G. (2015). Hair cosmetics: an overview.International journal of trichology,7(1), 2.
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