Many descriptors have emerged over the years for different hair types, each of which comes with its own attributes, benefits, and challenges.
Even if someone has a similar hair type, their haircare and styling needs would be vastly different depending on the hair density, scalp type, hair length, strand thickness, etc.
A term that you must have heard floating around in the hair community is ‘porosity’. Porosity essentially refers to how easily hair absorbs moisture. You can either have low porosity, normal porosity, or high porosity hair.
If you want to level up your hair care game, learning about hair porosity can help you understand which techniques and products will be best suited for your hair. This article will cover all this and more.
Hair porosity essentially explains the degree to which your hair strands absorb water, and hold the moisture in its pores. This is where the word porosity comes from.
To understand hair porosity better, it would be useful to look at the structure of hair. Your hair strand’s outer layer is known as the cuticle layer, and it is made up of multiple small cuticles that lie on top of each other.
The cuticles are stacked very much like the shingles on the roof. Your hair porosity depends on how tightly these cuticles are packed.
If you have high porosity hair, it means that your hair strands are quite porous. The cuticles in your strands are far apart, so it is able to absorb moisture easily.
How to determine hair porosity?
The best way to find out the porosity of your hair is through the water test. It is a simple test designed to show how easily water is absorbed by the hair.
All you have to do is drop a strand of your hair (taken from a brush) in a glass or bowl of water.
If the hair strand sinks to the bottom, it means you have high porosity hair, and if it floats then it is low porosity.
High Porosity Hair – Causes
The moisture-absorbing and retaining capacity of your hair largely depends on your genetics. If people in your family have high porosity hair, there is a greater chance that your hair will have high porosity too.
However, genetics is not the only factor when it comes to high porosity. Damaging your hair by overwashing, straightening, bleaching, and blow-drying can also affect the hair structure.
Continuous hair damage through these practices can lead to the raising and opening of your hair cuticles. This makes it harder for the hair to retain moisture.
Besides this, excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation can also lead to your hair becoming more porous.
The most obvious indicator of high porosity hair is that it loses moisture fairly quickly, leaving the hair dry and dull. Your hair will end up absorbing any moisturizing product easily. However, since the cuticles are lifted, the moisture you add will be lost just as easily. High porosity hair is generally prone to more breakage.
2. Hair appears frizzy
Another indicator of high porosity hair is frizzy hair texture and irregular pattern. If you feel that your hands can’t slide through your hair easily, it is most likely frizzy. Besides this damage to your hair cuticle, another reason for your frizzy hair can be humidity. The hair becomes frizzy since the moisture is able to penetrate the hair shaft easily, causing it to swell.
3. Hair breakage
Hair breakage is a common condition with high porosity hair. The hair is not able to stretch and bounce easily because of gaps in the hair cuticle. With high porosity hair, the hair becomes dry and brittle and loses elasticity. As a result, it breaks easily. A protein treatment can prove to be very useful in repairing the damage to the hair bonds.
4. Hair wets easily
As we have seen in the water test, high porosity hair means that the water absorption capacity of the hair is greater. Whenever hair is exposed to moisture or water, it gets wet easily.
5. More hair tangles
High porosity hair tend to get easily tangled. This is because the lifted cuticles make it easier for the hair strands to tangle with each other. You would be able to see many single strand knots and also general tangles in your hair more frequently.
6. Dull and lifeless
When your hair is high porosity, it can look quite dull. It makes it all the more difficult to achieve luster and shine in your hair since it is not able to retain any moisture. The appearance of your hair largely depends on the type of products you put in it. Since high porosity hair loses oils and moisture easily, its shine is lost easily.
7. Products are absorbed easily
High porosity hair also absorbs any product you put in it fairly quickly. Since the hair cuticles are raised, the products seep in easily. Although this is beneficial for providing the hair with good nutrients, it also makes it easier for harsh chemicals to get into the hair strands.
8. Hair does not get greasy
When you add any oil or product to your hair, it gets distributed easily but does not get absorbed. You will find that your hair hardly ever gets greasy.
9. Lack of elasticity
High porosity hair is known to be dry and less elastic. Whenever any strain is applied to the hair strands, they tend to break easily. This is because high porosity hair does not have a good balance of moisture within the hair strands. The persistent dryness can damage the elasticity over time.
10. Hair feels extremely dry
High porosity hair is characteristically dry, since its moisture retention capacity is quite low. This type of hair loses moisture as fast as it absorbs, making it look constantly dull and lifeless.
High Porosity Hair – Solutions
If you have high porosity hair, here are some steps you can take for managing it –
1. Skip hot stylers and harsh treatments:
As we stated before, your hair porosity is not just dependent on your genetics. If you use harsh treatments like bleaches and chemical relaxers, and/or heat style your hair with straighteners, curlers and blow dryers, it will affect the porosity. Consistent use of these treatments results in the removal of the outer layer of the cuticle, which then increases the hair’s porous ability. The hair looks frizzy, dull, and is prone to tangles and breakage. If you want to keep high porosity hair healthy, you should consider removing these practices from your hair care regimen completely.
2. Air dry your hair:
High porosity hair loses moisture just as quickly as it absorbs moisture. This means it dries fairly quickly. You can use this to your advantage and let your hair air dry rather than using heat to blow dry it. Even if you want to use a blow-dryer on your hair, make sure that you use a low heat setting.
3. Moisturize the hair strand:
If you have high porosity hair, your hair strands would be very fragile. All the washing, brushing, and styling just puts more stress on these strands. The key to protecting the integrity of your hair strand is moisturization. If you regularly apply hydrating products to your hair, it can strengthen the outer cuticle. Providing the hair with a protective barrier will help increase hair health. This will make the hair shiny, healthy, and stronger over time.
4. Managing your color:
Color in highly porous hair can be difficult to manage. This is because the color depositing pigments are not able to stay inside the hair because of looser cuticles. The result is hair color fades fairly quickly. If you want to make the hair color last longer in your high porosity hair, opt for color-safe shampoos and conditioners.
5. Use dense and creamy products:
The biggest challenge with high porosity hair is that the outer layer is exposed to many elements. If you want to protect these fragile hair strands, it is important to use nutrient-rich and creamy haircare products. Denser products will help in sealing in the moisture better, which will make the hair appear shiny and healthy. Look for deep conditioning treatments and leave-in conditioners with good ingredients.
6. Pre-poo treatments:
If you have high-porosity hair, you can use pre-shampoo (pre-poo) treatments to lock the moisture inside the hair. High porosity hair can absorb hydrating oils and essential proteins easily. Applying hydrating products before the shampoo will help in protecting the strands and prevent the depletion of moisture from the hair during shampooing. Choose a pre-poo treatment with rich ingredients like oil, butter, and nutrients to fix highly porous hair.
7. Wear your hair in its natural style:
High porosity hair generally does not hold styles very well. Heat styling will only end up damaging the hair, and the hair will lose the desired shape fairly quickly. Consider wearing your hair in your natural style. If you do want to style your hair for a special occasion, look for styling products without harsh chemicals which can provide more hold to your hair.
High Porosity Hair – Recommendations
When choosing products for high porosity hair, keep the following things in mind –
1. Sulfate-free Shampoos:
High porosity hair already has a hard time retaining moisture. Shampoos with harsh surfactants deplete the moisture from the hair even further. It is important to choose clarifying shampoos with creamier consistencies and SLS-free formulations that help with moisture retention. The Wow Skin Science Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo is a great option for high porosity hair. Infused with the goodness of Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera, and Moroccan Argan Oil, this SLS, and paraben-free shampoo is great for gently clarifying the hair without stripping the natural oils.
2. Protein Hair Treatment:
The best thing for high porosity hair is protein, since they help in closing the openings or gaps in the hair cuticles. If you use a protein treatment every few weeks, it will bring your dull and dry hair back to life. It also increases the hair’s moisture-retaining capacity. The Wow Skin Science Coconut Milk Hair Mask is a natural product for infusing your hair with the required protein, as coconut milk is widely known to be a great source of protein.
Since high porosity hair is not able to retain moisture, applying good quality oils can help in sealing in the moisture in the strands. Jojoba oil or olive oil can be great as a leave-in serum for your hair post-shower. TheWow Skin Science 10-in-1 Hair Oil is a great hair oil for moisturizing high porosity hair, containing the goodness of 10 super-oils like Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, and Safflower Oil.
High Porosity Hair – Expert Tips
Here are some expert-recommended hair tips for taking care of high porosity hair –
Handle hair with care:
When you are handling high porosity hair, it is important to be gentle and patient with the hair. This is because hair porosity hair is quite fragile and prone to breakage. Since they get frizzy easily, detangling them can also be quite a task. When you are cleaning your hair with shampoo, combing it out, or applying heat to it, remember to handle it with utmost care.
Avoid harsh products:
High porosity hair already has compromised hair strands, and using harsh chemicals on them can damage it even further. You should stay away from chemicals and bleaches as much as possible. Also make sure that the hair products you use do not contain parabens, silicones, and SLS. Silicone-based conditioners can lead to product build-up in the hair, and they also reduce the moisture-absorbing capacity of the hair.
Develop a weekly hair care routine:
High porosity hair can be managed if you develop a proper weekly hair care routine for providing it the nourishment it needs. Whether it is a deep conditioning treatment or an oiling session, a good hair care routine will help you in addressing the damage. The result would be vastly improved hair texture. Also, make sure that you have quarterly haircuts.
With this, we have covered everything there is to know about high porosity hair. With the right management and care, you will be able to improve the texture of your hair. If your high porosity hair is not a result of your genetic makeup, you might also be able to reverse the damage with the aforementioned tips.