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What Is Hair Porosity and How the Heck Do You Determine It?

Wondering how to determine your hair porosity level? You’ve likely heard the term once or twice, but have no idea what it is. Fret not, we’re here to break it all down for you. In the most basic terms, a porosity level is the measure of moisture that can penetrate your strands. Not all levels are the same, however, which is why it’s important to know yours so you can ensure you’re giving your mane the proper moisture it needs. There are levels to this thing as well: low, normal, and high, to be exact. You can assess how porous your hair is by taking the porosity test below!

How to Determine Hair Porosity

Finding out your porosity level is incredibly fast and easy. And even though it’s a test, you don’t need to study for it. All you need is a glass of water and clean, dry strands of your hair. You don’t want any product on your strands for this test. Place the strands in the glass of water, let it stand for seven minutes, and determine your results using the information below.


Low Porosity: Hair Floats to the Top

This moisture issue is a biggie, especially for kinky and coily hair types. Moisture is not easily absorbed due to tightly shut hair cuticles. Because the strands naturally repel oils and moisture, hair is prone to buildup because the product just sits on the strands. Low porosity does not mean the hair is unhealthy; in fact, hair with low porosity is typically healthy and shiny.

Below are some traits of low porosity hair:

  • Resistant to water, creams, and oils
  • Water beads on hair
  • Hair takes a long time to dry
  • Hair lacks elasticity

Moderate heat and oils are the keys to deep-penetrating moisture. Steam your hair to open up your hair cuticles (basically, wash your hair in a hot shower), apply your moisturizer and seal the hydration with a light oil like avocado or coconut. Heated deep conditioners, hot oil treatments, and humectants, like honey, are great add-ons to your routine.

Normal Porosity: Hair Floats in the Middle of the Glass

If your hair sank to the middle of the glass, you have a medium (or normal) porosity level. This means your hair requires the least amount of maintenance. The hair cuticle is slightly raised, allowing moisture to penetrate the strands. Keeping your hair moisturized is no problem unless you chemically treat your hair, which can affect your moisture retention.

Some standout traits of this porosity level:

  • Hair easily absorbs moisture
  • It requires less moisturizing
  • Hair responds easily to dye and chemical treatment

Keep doing what you are doing to care for your mane. But beware of exposing your hair to too much protein, which can leave your hair feeling stiff. Also, be mindful of your heat and chemical usage, because they can alter your hair cuticles and push you into the high porosity level.

High Porosity: Hair Sinks to the Bottom of the Glass

If your hair sank to the bottom of the glass, you have high porosity. Due to highly raised cuticles (aka large gaps) along the hair shaft, hair absorbs more moisture than it is able to retain.

Notable traits of high porosity level hair:

  • Bumpy texture on strands
  • Dullness
  • Hair constantly tangles (due to chipped cuticles)
  • Frizz

Protein is the answer to almost all of your hair woes. Egg washes or protein-based conditioners will help strengthen the hair cuticles. Just don’t overdo it; too much protein can leave your hair stiff and cause breakage. Deep conditioning is also very important to help repair your strands. Reduce frizz and help fill in the gaps by using heavy butters and creams, thicker oils, and a leave-in conditioner.

Now that you’ve done the hair porosity test and know your level, HERE are the best tools to use for your hair’s porosity!

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