What is Hair Porosity and Why is it Important?

Porosity is defined as how well your hair can absorb and maintain its moisture. Hair porosity is extremely important when becoming a natural (and is generally important when trying to keep any hair healthy). While no curl pattern is the same, it is important to be aware of your hair porosity when it comes to picking out products or even your curl routine. The hair outer layer is called the cuticle. Your hair’s cuticle will be the determining factor in your hair’s porosity.

Types of Hair Porosity


Characteristics of Normal Porosity

The cuticle layer is the healthiest in this state of porosity. The cuticle layer is loose; this allows moisture to be able to enter the shaft and maintain that moisture.

  • Hair appears the healthiest
  • Hair are easily manageable
  • Requires the least amount of maintenance
  • Holds styles better against weather conditions (i.e. humidity, rain, etc.) and coloring of the hair


Characteristics of Low Porosity

The cuticle layer is more repellent to moisture. Although this particle state of porosity, the hair is healthier than high porosity hair. It is harder to retain the moisture in the hair shaft with low porosity hair.

  • Curls take longer to dry.
  • Water rolls off hair rather than penetrating the hair (i.e. if you had oily hair and tried to wash your hair, but without soap)
  • Product build up is more an issue.
  • Oils don’t immediately penetrate the hair, instead, the oils used sit on the hair


Characteristics of High Porosity

The cuticle layer is very damaged, dry textured. The hair appears damaged and dull-like. The hair tends to accept moisture into the shaft, but does not retain it and continuously needs more moisture.

  • Very dry, thirsty hair
  • Hair can absorb water, but fairly fast (i.e hair dries fairly fast and “drinks” water)
  • Hair gets frizzy faster.
  • Hair is very unmanageable


Tests to Find Porosity of Hair

There are three known tests to find your hair porosity:

    1. The Strand/Float Test: As pictured above, you will need a glass of water, and a strand of your hair. Depending on how your hair reacts in the water will determine the porosity of your hair.
      • If your hair sinks slowly, you have normal porosity.
      • If your hair floats, it has low porosity.
      • If your hair sinks rapidly, you have high porosity.
    2. The Cuticle Test: There is a lot you can find out from your hair cuticles. One being the porosity of your hair. In this test, you will be simply sliding your finger along a strand of hair.
      • If your hair cuticle is smooth, you have normal porosity.
      • If your hair feels very dry, rough, and tangled, you have high porosity.
      • If your hair moves fairly easily but it feels dense and straw-like, you have low porosity.


SheaMoisture Questionnaire: SheaMoisture provides a questionnaire to help you figure out your hair’s porosity. http://www.porosity411.com/


How to Work Towards Normal Porosity Hair

Low Porosity

With Low Porosity hair, moisture is hard to enter the shaft; the hair is very repellent to water. To change the way the cuticle reacts to water try some of these tips:

  • Use heat while deep conditioning. Heat and/or steam will help penetrate the hair cuticles and shaft at a more concentrated level.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo (which you should do anyway). An awesome way to get rid of the build up is to use treatments that include apple cider vinegar or baking soda.
  • Apply your products to damp hair, not drenching freshly washed hair.
  • Make sure you evenly distribute your product throughout your hair and remembering not use heavy hair products to prevent product build-up.
  • Steer away from products that contain keratin or protein, as they will add to the low porosity problem rather than fix it.
  • Products to add to your regimen: shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil; choose lighter, water-based products

High Porosity

With High Porosity hair, moisture is not retained but able to enter the hair shaft easier than Low Porosity hair.

  • Try to eliminate all heat. When deep conditioning, try to not sit under the hair dryer or even when styling to dry the hair faster.
  • With eliminating heat, try to eliminate washing your hair with warm water. Cold water on High Porosity hair will help seal the cuticle and prevent any further frizz.
  • Use a good wide tooth comb with a great detangler to help detangle your hair and prevent any breakage.
  • Use deep conditioners as often as you wash (which you should do anyway), this helps rejuvenate and restore your hair to help retain moisture in the shaft.
  • It is important to include extra conditioners in your regimen like leave-in conditioners, moisturizers, and sealants; heavier products may penetrate the hair better to provide more moisture.


Did you figure out your hair porosity?
Did you know your porosity, but learned something new?
If so, we would like to know below!
Don’t forget to pin this post on Pinterest, share on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!
Thanks for reading Curls!