Everything You Need To Know About Hair Porosity


by Sindhu Koganti

Is your hair taking too much time to dry after rinsing? Are your expensive hair care products still not giving the desired results?  The way your hair behaves and responds to different products has a lot to do with its porosity levels.

Figuring out the hair porosity levels can help you fight a lot of hair issues like frizz, dryness, and tangles and keep it healthy. This article explains why hair porosity levels matter and lists some fun ways to determine them. Scroll down!

What Is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.  While all hair types are porous to a certain extent, curly hair types tend to be more porous. Extensively damaged hair strands are also highly porous (1). Knowing your hair porosity level helps you choose the right hair care products and treatments suitable for your tresses. In the next section, let’s take a look at the different levels of hair porosity.

Types Of Hair Porosity

Types Of Hair Porosity

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1. Low Porosity

Low porosity hair cuticles are tightly closed and resist moisture absorption into the hair shafts. This hair type takes time to absorb moisture, making it prone to buildup and excess oil accumulation on the scalp. However, low porosity hair can lock in moisture for a long time and appears healthy and shiny.

2. Normal Or Medium Porosity

The cuticles in normal porosity hair are neither tightly closed nor too open. As a result, this hair type absorbs and retains the right amount of moisture and appears healthy, lustrous, and voluminous. Normal or medium porosity hair requires the least amount of maintenance. It allows you to experiment with different hairstyles and coloring processes.

3. High Porosity

The cuticles in highly porous hair are widely placed and open. As a result, such hair can absorb moisture readily and cannot retain it. This makes it dry and brittle. Highly porous hair is prone to tangles and frizz.

You can have low or high porosity hair for numerous reasons. Let’s find out what they are.

Causes Of Low Or Highly Porous Hair

Both low and high porosity hair can be genetic. However, multiple reasons can make your hair highly porous. These include (2):

  • Frequent heat styling
  • Chemical treatments and bleaching
  • Excessive UV exposure

There ways to manage your hair porosity (discussed later in the article). But, before that, you should know your hair porosity levels. Here are a few ways to determine that.

How To Determine Hair Porosity Levels

1. The Float Test

The Float Test

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  • Put a few hair strands in a bowl of room temperature water.
  • Ensure that your hair strands are clean and do not contain any residue.
  • Observe them for about 2-4 minutes.
  • If the strands sink immediately to the bottom, your hair is highly porous. If they sink slowly, it means you have normal hair porosity. If your hair floats on the surface or just below the water level, it means it has low porosity.

2. The Slip And Slide Test

  • Slide a hair strand between your index finger and thumb, starting from the tip towards your scalp.
  • If you feel that the slide is bumpy, you have high hair porosity, and if the slide is smooth, you have low hair porosity. If the slide is normal, your hair porosity is normal.

3. The Spray Bottle Test

  • Pick a hair strand and spray water on it.
  • If the water droplets sit on the surface, forming beads, you have low hair porosity. If the water gets absorbed quickly, you have high hair porosity. If the water stays on the surface for a while and gets absorbed, you have normal hair porosity.

Apart from these popular tests, you may take the following tests to confirm the results. Check them out below!

4. Fragrance Test

Go to any place with a strong odor/smell (like a perfume kiosk in a mall or a fast food joint) and stay there for at least half an hour. If your hair smells of that place when you get back home, you have high hair porosity, and if not, you have low hair porosity. However, if your hair smells faintly of the place, you have normal hair porosity.

5. Products Test

Take note of the pace at which hair products get absorbed into your hair. If the products get absorbed at a very fast pace, you have high hair porosity. If they sit on the surface for a long time, you have low hair porosity. If the products are working somewhere in between, you have normal hair porosity.

Consider your hair type (curly, wavy, straight) while taking this test. This is because curls absorb hair products quickly (because of high porosity), while straight hair may take time to absorb them.

6. Hair Drying Test

Dampen your hair and see how long it takes to dry. High porosity hair dries quickly, while low porosity hair takes a long time to dry. If your hair dries at an average pace, you have normal hair porosity.

7. Shine Test

Low porosity hair is usually lustrous and reflects light, while highly porous hair looks dull. If your hair is moderately shiny, you have normal hair porosity.

8. Tangle Test

If your hair gets tangled easily and is difficult to detangle, you have high hair porosity. If your hair is easy to manage, you have low hair porosity. If your hair is somewhere in between, you have normal hair porosity.

9. Protein Test

High porosity hair is the most receptive to protein treatments and shows quick results. If your hair is not receptive to protein treatments, you have low hair porosity. Normal porosity hair responds to such treatments in a balanced manner.

Once you have determined your hair’s porosity level, the next step is to figure out how to take care of it. Let us see how to take care of low, normal, and high porosity hair types.

Take Care Of Your Hair According To Its Porosity Levels

 Low Porosity Hair

Since low porosity hair is moisture-resistant, here’s what you can do:

  1. Use argan, coconut, and jojoba oils to moisturize your hair. For best results, heat the oil for a few seconds before massaging it onto your hair and scalp.
  2. Pamper your hair every two weeks with conditioning hair masks that contain avocado, banana, and olive oil.
  3. Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove all the product buildup on your hair and scalp.
  4. Do not use an excessive amount of product on your hair, and distribute it evenly throughout the hair.

Normal/Medium Porosity Hair

Normal/medium porosity hair receives the right amount of moisture. You can use any nourishing and conditioning shampoo and hair masks for it. This type of hair responds well to all styling, coloring, and other chemical treatments. However, avoid frequent chemical treatments and bleaching as it may damage the hair.

High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair requires extra care as it is susceptible to breakage, damage, dryness, frizz, and tangling. Here’s what you can do to nourish and protect it:

  1. Use a leave-in conditioner every alternate day to retain the moisture and prevent dryness.
  2. Massage your hair and scalp with jojoba, olive, avocado, or coconut oil regularly to nourish and moisturize them.
  3. Avoid using heat styling tools and hairsprays.
  4. Rinse with cold water to prevent frizz.

Knowing your hair porosity helps you adjust your hair care routine and make it work for your hair. It is the best way to tackle hair issues like hair fall, breakage, and dullness – at the core. Try the tests mentioned in the article to determine your hair porosity level and keep your hair healthy.

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Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.
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