If you have ever been caught down the Instagram hole that is the curly girl community, you will no doubt have seen a lot of talk about hair porosity. But what is it, and what does it mean for our hair?
What is hair porosity?
Hair porosity essentially means the amount of moisture hair can absorb and retain - how porous it is. Your porosity will be determined by the cuticles (outer layer) of your hair and how open or closed they are. There are three types of porosity: low, medium and high, and the category you fall into will largely determine the styling methods and products you choose to use. This is why figuring out your hair’s porosity level at the beginning of your journey is vital.
Low Porosity Hair
Low porosity hair has compact, almost impenetrable, cuticles that lay flat and do not easily allow moisture in or out. This means that low porosity hair is susceptible to dryness, but can also be easily weighed down by product buildup.
It’s hard to get low porosity hair wet because moisture will often sit on top of the hair shaft, rather than penetrate it. For this reason, individuals with low porosity hair will benefit from applying products when hair is wet and the shaft is open.
Generally, low porosity hair is considered healthy and does not often suffer from split ends.
Toptip- ‘Plop’ your hair with a t-shirt when it’s wet, after applying products, to allow the products to soak into the hair before drying.
Products for low porosity hair:
Low porosity hair needs help accepting moisture; apply Bouclème’s Curl Conditioner to wet hair in sections and do not fully rinse out - this will help hair to stay moisturised.
Those with low porosity hair should use stylers that are lightweight and moisturising, such as the Bouclème Curl Defining Gel. Using a gel is also a great way to lock moisture into low porosity hair.
Avoid heavy butters and oils as these do not sink into the hair, but sit on top of it, providing little to no benefit.
Medium Porosity Hair
Medium or ‘normal’ porosity hair is thought of as the easiest hair porosity to manage as it requires minimal maintenance. However, like all hair types, its needs can change throughout the seasons.
Medium porosity hair has cuticles that are looser and readily accept and retain the right amount of moisture. This means that medium porosity hair, if treated correctly, generally stays well moisturised and holds styles well.
Products for medium porosity hair:
Medium porosity hair tends to react well to most products, however, it’s important to learn to understand the hair and its needs, as these can change.
A good moisture/protein balance can keep medium porosity hair in good condition. Semi-regular protein treatments and deep conditioning with Bouclème’s Intensive Moisture Treatment will help promote this balance.
High Porosity Hair
High porosity hair cuticles are more open, often with gaps and holes in the cuticle layers. High porosity hair can be a result of damaged, colour treated hair and in this case, with the right treatment, can transform to medium or low porosity hair over time. However, high porosity hair can be genetic, so it’s important to treat your hair as if it will always be this way, and test it again if you feel your porosity may have changed.
Because the hair cuticles are open and stay open, high porosity hair easily accepts moisture but it is hard for it to retain moisture. This means individuals with high porosity hair may be more susceptible to frizz. The gaps in the cuticles can also cause high porosity hair to tangle and break more easily. Make sure to protect hair when taking part in activities that can lead to excess water getting into the hair - things like swimming and bathing can be a recipe for breakage for high porosity hair due to the sheer amount of moisture the hair can intake.
Top tip:To help close the cuticle after washing, rinse your hair with cold water.
Products for high porosity hair:
High Porosity hair needs moisture, so weekly deep conditioning with Bouclème’s Intensive Moisture Treatment is a great way to keep hair moisturised.
After deep conditioning, use Bouclème’s Curl Conditioner and leave it in for a continuous moisture boost. Before applying styling products, lock the moisture from the conditioner in with your favourite pure hair oil. Layering products on high porosity hair really helps to retain moisture.
Using products that include anti-humectants can prevent high porosity hair from gaining excess moisture from the air and creating frizz. Additionally, high porosity hair can benefit from protein treatments to balance out and strengthen the hair.
Hair porosity test
It’s all well and good talking about hair porosity, but if you don’t know what level yours is or how to determine it, you may find yourself in a hair rut.
Here are a couple of simple methods used to determine porosity type:
The Strand Float Test
Take a strand of clean, dry hair, void of any product. Lay the strand into a glass of cool water and leave for 5 minutes. Take notice of the strand’s placement in the water. If the hair sits on top of the water it is low porosity, if it sinks to the bottom of the glass it is high porosity, and if it floats in the middle it is medium porosity.
The Hair Spritz Test
Grab a spray water bottle, spritz some onto your hair and examine your curls. If you notice water droplets sitting on the outside of your hair, you have low porosity hair. If your hair soaked up all moisture straight away, you have high porosity hair. If your hair gradually absorbs the moisture, it is likely medium porosity.
After reading this article you should have a greater understanding of what hair porosity is, how to determine it and which products complement each type best. You can now go ahead and determine your own hair’s porosity and, if necessary, implement some changes to your hair care regime.
It is, however, important to remember that everyone’s hair is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. With this in mind, it’s always best to take a ‘trial and error’ approach to your curly hair journey to learn what products and methods work best for you.