Got dry, brittle and breaking hair? Then your hair’s porosity or lack there of could be the culprit. Your hair’s porosity is the measure of its ability to absorb and hold in moisture. The degree of porosity is directly related to the condition of the cuticle layer.
Hair with low porosity is considered resistant. Low porosity hair is typically much harder to moisturize since it is more difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. Prep time is paramount for low porosity naturals. Every step in your daily routine is important and will determine how healthy your hair is. Avoid moisture sapping products, including alcohol based gels, hairspray and mousse.
TIP: Shop for water based, liquid leave in moisturizers that will moisturize without heaviness. Also, make sure to add a natural oil to your regime. Opt for a light to seal your hair after moisturizing. I prefer jojoba, sweet almond or avocado oil since it most resembles the sebum produced in our scalp. Heavy oils will be harder to absorb and will simply sit on top of it and weigh it down.
Hair with average porosity is considered to be normal. Normal porosity hair is easily moisturized and retains its moisture level well. My hair has normal (medium) porosity. One of my favorite ways to keep my curls hydrated is to do a rinse, then reapply a thin layer of conditioner (add more on the ends) and finally seal with pure olive oil.
TIP: Shop for moisturizing conditioners, silicone free preferably, that can double as a leave in. Avoid protein heavy conditioners for this purpose, as the residual protein can lead to straw like curls. Add a few natural oils to the mix for sealing your hair.
Hair with high porosity is considered over porous hair is often the result of previous overprocessing. Overly porous hair is damaged, dry, fragile and brittle. High porosity hair has a difficult time holding onto moisture as it easily escapes the raised cuticles. It is important to avoid drying detergents and silicones that will further exacerbate the issue.
TIP: Shop for rich creams and butters for your hair. I suggest sealing the hair in layers…start with a moisture rich leave in, follow up with a cream, and finish with a heavy butter.
I also suggest that high porosity naturals try a ACV (apple cider vinegar) rinse. This is a great way to temporarily close your cuticle, and enable the hair to retain moisture.
How to test your hair’s porosity:
Option 1 – Water Test: Take a strand of your hair (after gently brushing or finger combing your hair) and place it in a glass of water. Observe how your hair responds to being immersed in water.
- High porosity hair will sink quickly to the bottom, therefore it readily absorbs water.
- Low porosity hair will take a long time to sink to the bottom of the glass of water, if at all. In this case, the hair is unable to absorb the water.
- Normal porosity hair will sink at a medium pace, not too fast or too slow.
Option 2 – Strand Test: Take a strand of hair from four different areas of the head (front headline, temple, crown and nape). Hold the strand securely with one hand while sliding the thump and forefinger of the other hand from the end to the scalp. If the hair feels smooth and the cuticle is compact, dense and hard, it is considered resistant. If you feel a slight roughness, it is considered normal. If the hair feels very rough, dry and breaks, it is considered highly porous.