Porosity is a measure of how easily water and other substances can enter and exit the hair strand. Low porosity hair is hydrophobic, which means it repels water from the surface. This type of hair results in flat, tightly sealed cuticles that is more resistant to moisture loss and absorption. Knowing your hair’s porosity will help you make better product purchasing decisions and adjust your regimen accordingly.
To determine your porosity, gently pull a strand of your hair (maybe more strands if you have multiple textures) and drop it in a glass of water. If it floats to the top then you have low porosity curls, if it sinks to the bottom of the glass then you have high porosity hair and if it stays in the middle then your hair is considered regular.
If you have low porosity hair, check out these techniques for getting moisture into your strands:
Steaming is a great option for a low porosity natural because it lifts the cuticle layers and infuse the hair strand with moisture. You can simply sit under a hair steamer or use a warm towel and a hooded dryer for 15-30 minutes. Be sure to use a steamer or some type of heat heat when doing deep treatments, as the heat will help open up the cuticles and make the deep treatment more effective.
- Shampoo Twice
Typically naturals are taught to shampoo sparingly or not shampoo at all but low porosity hair may benefit from lathering twice. Shampooing your hair twice can better remove product buildup and improve moisture absorption.
- Style on Damp Hair
It’s best to style and moisturize on damp hair. As hair dries, water droplets on and in the hair strand begin to evaporate leaving room for your moisturizer to penetrate and your sealant to coat your cuticle layers.
- Seasonal Styling
Avoid humectants like glycerin in the winter as they’ll draw moisture out of your hair but use them in the summer to bring moisture to your hair. Sun will make hair more porous, so you want to make sure to wear a hat or scarf in the sun and in cold.
With low porosity hair rinsing with warm water after conditioning prevents the cuticles from closing so you may be able to follow up with a moisturizer or leave-in that will still be able to penetrate the hair shaft.