As an intuitive, I get what I call spiritual “downloads” on a regular basis as I am always in tune to receive them. This is true when it comes to my hair also. Lately my hair has been going through some weird changes and it’s almost like the texture of my hair has changed. Immediately I began to seek guidance as to what was going on because I’m a person who prefers my hair to be shiny and moist looking rather than wearing a dry look style and it was looking very dull.
I began to hear the word “porosity” and immediately felt that the porosity of my hair was “low”. I had never researched hair porosity before but after hearing this was intrigued to immediately do so. I wanted to share my findings with my Get Healthy Hair Now community.
The first thing I discovered was that, as I was sensing, my hair does have a low porosity. There are two methods you can use to find out how porous your hair is.
The Float Test: Take a couple of strands of shed hair and drop them into a bowl of water. Let them sit for at least 4 minutes. If your hair floats, you have low porosity. If it sinks, you have high porosity.
The Slip’n’Slide Test: Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up the shaft (toward the scalp). If you feel little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity. If your fingers slip smoothly, then you have low porosity hair.
I chose to do the float test. 20 minutes later my hair was still floating on top of the water.
How does the porosity of your hair affect it?
The cuticle layer of hair with low porosity is tightly bound with overlapping scales that lay flat. This type of hair is usually considered to be healthy and is often very shiny. When you try to wet low porosity hair it repels moisture and is difficult to process because it resists penetration of chemicals. These are the heads of hair that when relaxing take a long time to straighten.
Low porosity hair is also prone to product build-up from protein-rich deep conditioning products which can leave the hair feeling stiff and straw-like. If you have low porosity hair you should stick to protein-free daily conditioners and you can add humectants such as glycerin or honey. When using a deep conditioning treatment, be sure that it is free of protein and use moderate heat to help open up the tightly bound cuticle. Using moisturizers that are rich in emollients such as jojoba oil and coconut oil and humectant products, which attract and hold moisture to your hair, are very beneficial to low porosity hair types. Choose light liquid-based products that won’t sit on your hair leaving it oily or greasy.
Medium porosity hair often requires less maintenance than low and high porosity hair. The cuticle layer is looser which allows for just the right amount of moisture to enter the hair cuticle while preventing too much moisture from escaping. Medium porosity hair tends to hold styles well and can be relaxed and colored with predictable results. It is important to note that these processes over time can cause significant damage to your hair and increase its porosity. Deep conditioning occasionally with protein conditioners can be beneficial to medium porosity hair however do not include proteins in your daily hair regimen.
High porosity hair can be as a result of damage caused by chemical processing or the environment. It has gaps and holes in the cuticle which allow for too much moisture to penetrate the hair leaving it prone to frizz and tangling in weather that is humid. Simple acts such as bathing, shampooing and swimming can create damage and breakage due to the fact that highly porous hair can absorb high amounts of moisture. Using anti-humectants in high heat and humid climates will help to seal your damaged cuticles and prevent excess moisture from the air being absorbed. Highly porous hair can also lose moisture easily and so using leave-in conditioners, moisturizers and sealers will help your hair to hold the moisture you are giving it. Following up with a heavy hair butter can help to fill in the gaps of your damaged cuticles protecting the hair from losing too much moisture.
What I found to work for my curly hair
After my research this is what I came up with for myself as a low porosity curly hair naturalista (and ironically I did all of this before and had great hair! LOL):
- Apply product to damp hair. Because my hair absorbs a lot of water while washing, if I let some of the water go by allowing my hair to dry a little (or blot it dry with a towel) before applying product the product absorbs better.
- Use a detangling comb or brush. Proper distribution is acquired throughout the hair by using a detangling brush or comb after applying the product. My preference is to use the Denman brush which I absolutely love! Remember that hair is most fragile when wet so you want to do this by running the brush/comb gently from end to root.
- Squeeze out the excess. If you use too much product or it has a tendency to turn white taking forever and a day to dry, then get rid of the excess by simply grabbing small sections of hair and sandwiching it between your index and middle finger and gently running your finger down the hair shaft to slide the excess product off.
- Smooth your hair. If you choose to use heavier products like butters it may be more difficult to squeeze excess product out. In such cases simply smooth it in by grabbing a small section of your hair, place it between the palms of your hands then smooth down the length of your hair until the product disappears.
While it is impossible to change the porosity of your hair without causing damage, you can help to lift your cuticles safely and temporarily for better product absorption by applying products that are alkaline in nature such as a baking soda rinse after cleansing your hair. (When using a baking soda rinse, be sure to always rinse the product out afterwards.) After the treatment, you can apply product. With your cuticles raised, it will be easier for your hair to absorb the product. Once you are done, you will need to reseal your cuticle to prevent frizz, which you can be done easily with an acidic product like aloe vera gel.
In the science of hair care, Porosity is the term used to describe how easily water and other matter can diffuse back and forth through the cuticle layer into and out of the cortex. Hair, like a sponge, is capable of absorbing water and other substances from the environment, and is also susceptible to losing precious moisture and lipids to the environment. Maintaining an optimal balance of moisture in your hair preserves its suppleness, strength, and shine.