Search for the perfect curl part 2: Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is one of the most important things i have learned about my hair. Hair typing 4a, 3c, 4 c…z are just letters and numbers. They do not help you care for your hair, porosity does.

Photo courtesy

To put simply, hair porosity is the level at which hair accepts and retains moisture. 

Our hair has cuticle layers which resemble shingles on a roof. Porosity determines how they lay and that indicates how well hair absorbs moisture.

Lets get a visual

Low porosity:

The cuticles on low porosity hair lay flat and very tight. Its hard to get them open so when you do, a lot of what you put in will stay in once it shuts.

Medium porosity:

These cuticles are slightly open. Moisture gets in without problems and stays in for a reasonable time. Its probably what is refered to as ‘normal’ hair.

High porosity:

These cuticles are raised to a high degree and while its extremely easy to put moisture in, it evaporates just as quickly. 

Colouring, perming , excessive combing/manipulation and other Chemical treatments can make low porosity or medium porosity hair very porous. This is why high porosity hair is sometimes refered to as damaged.

This is a picture of actual hair strands with various porosity levels.

So how do you find out your porosity? Simple. Try the water test. To check how your hair absorbs moisture, take a clean glass and fill it with clean room temperature water (make sure there are no oils in the water). Then take one strand of your hair, (you can use shed hair, no riping hair out please! Lol) ensure that the hair is clean and dry, again no oils or conditioner on it.

Drop it in the cup of water. Dont push it in. Let it sit for a few minutes and observe what happens. Your hair should do one of the following 

Photo courtesy

Sink to the bottom- high porosity (meaning it absorbs water easily and gets weighed down by it)

Float in the middle- medium porosity (meaning it absorbs just enough water)

Sit on top of the water- low porosity (meaning the water does not get in or absorb)

This result determines how you should take care of your hair and what products/methods would make your hair grow and flourish. 

To see how to care of your hair based on its porosity, watch out for part 3 of the search for the perfect curl series.


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