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How to Determine your Hair Porosity Type

Alright curlfriends – no matter where you are in your curl journey, you probably know your hair type, right? Well…what if we told you, you shouldn’t stop there? What if there was something else that’s essential to know when it comes to understanding your curls? Hint, hint – there is, and it’s called hair porosity. Learning the porosity level of your hair is crucial to making the best out of your curl care and styling routine.

What Is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.

There are three different types of hair porosity that can affect how you should care for your curls: low, normal/medium, and high.

Understanding the Three Types of Hair Porosity

  • Low Porosity Hair: The cuticles are tightly packed together, which means there is very little space for water and hydrating products to be delivered to the hair shaft, thus making the hair less susceptible to moisture. If you have low porosity hair, you may notice your curls take a while to be fully saturated, they take a long time to dry, and products tend to sit on top of your curls.
  • Normal/Medium Porosity Hair: The cuticles are still packed together but have the ability to “float” open and close easily to allow water in. This type of porosity requires very little maintenance. If your curls are of normal/medium porosity, your hair holds styles well with a lot of shine, bounce, and volume.
  • High Porosity Hair: The cuticles are widely spaced and tend to stay open continuously. In other words, moisture can easily be absorbed into the strands but isn’t able to stay long enough to deliver proper hydration. Some characteristics of high porosity hair include a relatively quick dry time, curls tangle easily and look/feel dry, and the hair tends to be frizzy.

How Do I Figure Out My Hair Porosity?

It’s time to do a hair porosity test. Don’t worry – you won’t be graded on this. It’s actually quite simple and there are a couple of ways you can do it. 😉

  • The Float Test
    • Fill a clear glass with water.
    • With clean hair, drop a strand into the glass and observe the strand over the next few minutes.
    • If the strand floats, your hair is low porosity. If it floats to the middle of the glass, it has normal/medium porosity. If it instantly falls to the bottom, your hair has high porosity.
  • The Water Test
    • Spritz a small section of your curls with a spray bottle filled with water and watch how your hair reacts to the moisture.
    • If that section of hair becomes instantly saturated, you may have high porosity. If it’s slowly absorbing the water, you have normal/medium porosity. If the water is beading up and not saturating the curls, you have low porosity.

Now that you’ve figured out your hair porosity, it’s time to learn how to care for your porosity type.

Caring for Low Porosity Hair

Since low porosity hair is less susceptible to water, you want to avoid heavy butters or oils that will block water from getting in and ultimately dehydrate the hair. It’s best to use water-soluble products with this porosity type.

Use a deep cleanser weekly to rid your hair of product buildup (we recommend Buildup Buster) to ensure your hair shafts are clean and ready to soak up moisture.

When conditioning, distribute products evenly in sections and continuously add water to dilute the conditioner so it can be better absorbed by the cuticle.

Look for hydrating deep conditioners and treatments like Heaven In Hair. Using treatments formulated with a lot of protein can cause the hair to feel brittle and dry, since the protein will likely sit on top of your curls and not get absorbed.

Apply stylers like you would apply your conditioner – distribute evenly in sections, adding lots of water. We recommend cream stylers like Styling Cream, SuperCream, and Super Stretch.

When drying, diffuse your curls on low speed and low heat – the heat will cause your cuticles to open and absorb the products applied, allowing the hydration into the hair shaft. Don’t rush this process though! The longer your hair stays wet, the longer time it has to absorb moisture.

We recommend the following products for low porosity hair:

No-Poo OriginalOne Condition OriginalHeaven In HairSuperCreamStyling CreamSuper Stretch, SuperMousse, Curl MakerB-Leave InBeautiful MessArc Angel, and Buildup Buster.

Caring for Normal/Medium Porosity Hair

Normal/medium porosity hair is easy to maintain because the strands can easily absorb and retain moisture. Since no two heads of curls are alike, your needs can vary in terms of moisture, hold, and protein. Play around with what works for you – it will likely be a mixture of moisture and hold.

We recommend the following products for normal/medium porosity hair:

Low-Poo DelightOne Condition Delight, No-Poo OriginalOne Condition OriginalLow-Poo OriginalStyling CreamCurl MakerFrizz-Free Volumizing FoamWave MakerLight Defining GelUltra Defining GelArc AngelB’Leave In, Buildup Buster, and Melt Into Moisture.

Caring for High Porosity Hair:

Now that we understand high porosity hair can lose moisture just as quickly as it can absorb it, we need to ensure we’re using ultra-moisturizing products to compensate for the moisture our curls cannot retain on their own.

Look for products formulated with proteins like No-Poo Decadence and Leave-In Decadence. Rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle and prevent frizz. For an extra boost of protein, try a protein treatment like Deep Sea Repair.

Use moisture-rich products containing oils and butters to help in hydrating and restoring highly porous hair like Super Stretch, SuperMousse, Melt Into Moisture, and High Shine. When applying, be sure to finger detangle gently to avoid breakage.

Deep condition weekly. High porosity hair requires a lot of moisture – look for deep conditioners like Heaven In Hair and Melt Into Moisture to provide hydration.

We recommend the following products for high porosity hair:

No-Poo OriginalOne Condition OriginalLow-Poo DelightOne Condition Delight, No-Poo DecadenceOne Condition Decadence, Leave-In DecadenceStyling Cream, SuperCream, Super Stretch, SuperMousse, High Shine, Frizz-Free Volumizing FoamWaveMakerLight Defining GelUltra Defining GelArc Angel, Beautiful Mess, Buildup Buster, Melt Into Moisture, Heaven In Hair, Wash Day Wonder, and Deep Sea Repair.

What are some of your favorite products for your porosity type? Share some tips and tricks below!

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