As you embark on your natural hair journey, one of the most valuable things you can do is determine your hair porosity. This will aide you in making the correct choices for your hair health.
What is hair porosity:
Hair Porosity is basically your hairs ability to absorb and retain moisture and is affected by the hair cuticles. There are 3 categories; low, medium and high and understanding which your hair falls under will make all the difference when choosing which products to use, how to best use them and what treatments, maintenance regimes you should be following to get the best from your natural hair.
Below is a breakdown of each category:
Low porosity hair has cuticles that are close together and this makes it hard for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft, however it does retain moisture well once absorbed.
Medium porosity hair has cuticles that are less tightly bound and easily accepts and retains moisture inside the hair shaft.
High porosity hair has cuticles that are more widely spaced, and curls easily absorb water, however moisture is hard to retain without suitable products and tends to look and feel dry.
Determining your hair porosity:
There are several ways to determine your hair porosity, but the best way is to make an educated decision based on your knowledge of your hair. Below are the characteristics of each porosity. Based off this you should be able to catergorise your hair:
Curls take much longer to get fully saturated when you wet them.
Curls take a long time to dry.
Products tend to build up on curls rather than absorb.
Your hair is easy to style and can hold styles for a good length of time
Your hair takes color well
Your hair tends to look healthy, shiny, or glossy
It doesn’t take too long for your hair to air dry
Hair becomes full saturated with water very quickly when washing
Your hair tends to break easily
Your hair tends to be frizzy and dry
It doesn’t take much time for your hair to air dry
If you are still unsure, then below are a couple of tests you can try:
The Float Test:
Take a couple of clean strands of hair from your comb or brush and drop them into a bowl of water. It is important this is fresh, clean, and dry hair that has no product on it.
Let them sit for 2-4 minutes. If your hair floats, you have low porosity. If it sinks, you have high porosity.
NOTE: When I first did this test, I laid my hair on top of the water and it just sat there. I therefore ‘wrongly’ assumed I had low porosity hair. Since then I have tried again and an important thing to note on this test is to lightly push the hair into the water to ensure it is coated.
The Strand Test:
Gently stretch a tiny section of curl strands from different areas of your head – front hairline, nape, crown and temple. Place the stretched curl between your thumb and finger and slide it up the hair strand from the tip towards the scalp. If your fingers move easily up the strand and it feels dense and hard, you have low porosity hair. If it feels smooth, you have normal porosity hair. And if the strand feels rough or dry or it breaks, you have high porosity hair
The H20 Test:
To determine your hair porosity level using water, spritz a small section of curls with water and watch how your hair reacts – does your hair absorb the water quickly (indicating high porosity) or does it remain on top (indicating a low porosity level)?
Knowing your hair porosity is widely consider the single most important first step in your natural hair journey. So ‘congratulations’ you have made a vital and valuable step towards the curls you want and deserve.