Hair porosity is a term that’s used to describe how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture and oils.
If you have a low porosity hair structure, it means the structure of your hair doesn’t easily allow moisture to be absorbed into your hair shafts. This makes it harder for water to saturate your hair when wet/washed.
As this type of hair tends to repel moisture, it is usually more challenging to process and style.
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of low porosity hair, as well as some tips and advice on how best to care for it.
Low porosity hair, you can see the water just on the hair and not being absorbed at all
Your hair is basically a collection of dead cells that are arranged in a distinct, three-layer pattern:
- The cuticleis the outermost layer of your hair. It comprises of individual cuticles that overlap each other, like the tiles on a roof.
- The cortexis the middle and thickest layer. It contains fibrous proteins and pigments that give your hair its color.
- The medullais the central, innermost layer of the hair shaft.
With low porosity hair, the cuticles tend to overlap each other and are tightly packed together; because there are no spaces between the cuticles, it makes it hard for water, as well as products like oils and conditioners, to deliver moisture to the hair shaft.
Low porosity hair, is usually due to genetic factors.
When heat or styling does damage the cuticle layer, it’s more likely to result in high porosity hair. That means the cuticles are raised and have spaces between them. This can make it hard for the hair shaft to retain moisture.
What are the characteristics of low porosity hair?
Below are ways to detect low porosity hair;
Products sit on your hair: If you have low porosity hair, you may find that hair products tend to sit on your hair instead of being absorbed.
For instance, you may apply an oil or moisturizer to the ends of your hair. Half an hour later, you may notice that the product is still on the surface of your hair. It may even come off on your fingers if you touch it.
Your hair probably absorbed very little, if any, of the product.
Washing and drying takes longer: With low porosity hair, washing and drying can take longer than you’d expect, because water isn’t easily absorbed. You may find it difficult to get your hair really wet and for the water to fully penetrate your hair.
Then, once your hair is wet, it can take a long time to air-dry. Even using a blow dryer may take longer than it does for others who have hair that’s the same length and thickness as yours.
How to test your hair
If you’re not sure what type of hair porosity you have, try these methods below:
- Shampoo and rinse your hair well to remove any product buildup. Clean hair will give you the most accurate results.
- Dry your hair as usual.
- Take a strand of your hair and drop it into a clear glass of water.
- Watch the hair strand to see how it floats.
What the float test can tell you:
- Hair strands that float to the top for a while before sinking towards the bottom of the glass likely has low porosity.
- Hair that floats somewhere near the middle of the glass likely has medium porosity.
- Hair that sinks to the bottom of the glass fairly quickly is typically more porous. That means it has high porosity.
How to care for low porosity hair
When you have low porosity hair, you may be tempted to apply a larger quantity of a product, or more than one hair product at a time, in an effort to saturate your hair.
However, because the cuticles are so close together, not much product will penetrate, no matter how much you apply.
The key is to find products that have the right formulation for low porosity hair. These products will have ingredients that can penetrate your hair more easily.
Another important tip is to apply products when your hair is wet and warm. Heat can lift the hair cuticle, allowing oils and moisture to more easily penetrate the hair shaft.
Below are examples of the types of ingredients in popular products that tend to work well for low porosity hair:
Shampoos that don’t leave residues are your best bet.
Look for products that contain honey or glycerin
These ingredients can penetrate the hair cuticles more easily than products that contain oils.
Try diluting your conditioner with a small amount of water when you apply it to your hair.
This can help make the conditioner more easily absorbable and less likely to just sit on your hair.
- Deep conditioner
Sometimes your hair may need a little extra boost of moisture.
One way to do this is with a weekly deep-conditioning treatment.
It can help if you use a steamer, heat cap, or hooded dryer when you condition your hair.
Or, you can put a shower cap over your hair once you’ve applied the deep conditioner, then use a blow dryer on the warm setting for a few minutes to heat up your hair under the cap. This can help open the cuticles.
For low porosity hair, you’ll want to stay away from protein treatment conditioners. Protein formulas can increase the risk of hair breakage since they tend to pull moisture out of the hair and close the cuticles even further.
In summary, there are certain ingredients that can make low porosity hair easier to care for, the key is knowing the types of products to use and which ones to avoid. This will make a huge difference in the manageability and health of your hair.
Why don’t you come in for a consultation at our salon, 10x10 Shop G11, Landmark Boulevard, Water Corporation Drive. V.I. Lagos; where we can have a thorough look at your hair and advise on the best hair care regimen for you.