In addition to knowing your hair type, it is important to understand your hair’s porosity level to help pick the right products and also determine the best styling techniques for your hair. Porosity basically refers to how porous your hair is, or how much you hair is able to absorb and maintain moisture. If you were to look at a hair strand under a microscope, you would notice something that resembles tiny scales somewhat flapping off of the hair strand. These scales are known as cuticles and they are supposed to lay on top of each other down the strand. Tighter or more closed cuticles are an indication of low to normal porosity hair, but if they’re lifted or open it means that the hair strand is more porous. A number of things contribute to your hair’s porosity level including genetics, heat styling, chemical damage, over-manipulation, excessive washing, or brushing your hair while it’s in a dry state.
Low Porosity Hair – The cuticles are tightly closed and sometimes overlap on the hair strand. You may have to do a little bit of manipulation in order to open up the flap so you’re able to absorb moisture and then close the flap so that you’re able to retain moisture. With low porous hair, it’s not only difficult to absorb moisture, it’s hard to release any moisture your hair has already collected which can cause product build up. Whenever you apply products, they tend to sit on your hair as opposed to really getting absorbed into the hair making it difficult to reap the benefits of the products unless there’s heat involved to open the cuticle. With low porosity hair, one of the best ways to style your hair is on your wash day because whenever you wash your hair you are opening up the cuticles with the steam or warm water from the shower. If you apply products and style your hair shortly after washing it, you will have a better chance of absorbing and retaining that moisture. Purchasing a hair steamer would help to lift tightly-sealed cuticles and infuse them with essential moisture and would be a great investment for anyone with low porosity hair. Also, try to stay clear of products with a low pH as high acidity aids in keeping the cuticle closed.
Medium/Normal Porosity Hair – This is the level that most easily absorbs and retains moisture, nutrients and the benefits from products used on the hair. Products efficiently penetrate the hair shaft and with the right maintenance and care your hair will follow under the level of normal porosity. This type of hair typically achieves the best results from hair color application and chemical processing. If you fall under this category, in order to maintain normal hair porosity, just be sure to implement a good hair regimen which includes regular deep conditioning treatments, proper moisturizing and avoiding too much heat because your hair can easily change levels in absence of the proper maintenance and care.
High Porosity Hair – Highly porous hair has been exposed to an extreme amount of damage either from chemical processing, excessive heat or environmental factors and easily absorbs and loses moisture due to gaps and holes in the hair’s cuticle layer. If your hair tends to stay wet for a long period of time or loses moisture as quickly as it’s absorbed, then that is an indication of highly porous hair. You will want to layer your hair products using a liquid such as water first, followed by an oil or butter, then you will want to seal in that moisture with a cream such as a leave-in conditioner, heavy butter, or styling product. This process is known as the LOC method and can help people with highly porous hair retain moisture. Implementing this regimen, along with regularly rinsing your hair with a combination of Apple Cider Vinegar and water, daily moisturizing, regular trims or cuts, and regular deep conditioning and protein treatments is highly recommended.