What is hair porosity, and how do you determine yours?
Hair porosity. A ‘difficult’ term that you may have heard of. But once you have a good understanding of it, it can make your life as a Curlygirl a lot easier. It has to do with how well your hair can absorb moisture. And because many of us curlyheads struggle with dry or too greasy hair, it's oh so important.
Do you often suffer from dry and frizzy hair? If so, you may be dealing with porous hair (also known as high porosity). And to prevent this, it is good to know what porous hair is like. That is why we would like to explain to you further what porous hair actually is.
What is hair porosity?
By the term hair porosity, we mean how well your hair is actually able to absorb and retain moisture. If you have porous hair, your hair's moisture balance is not quite balanced. By moisture, we mean not only water but also the nutrition you give your hair through a mask or other hair products.
Damaged hair is hair whose hair shaft has damaged cuticles. This is often due to friction with other hair shafts, use of a rough towel and hot styling tools. Chemical treatments force open and close the hair cuticles. This process also damages your hair.
In the Curly Hair world, there are three degrees of porosity: high, low and medium. What your porosity is depends on several factors. It can be genetically determined, but it can also change due to different hair treatments. It is even possible to have different degrees of porosity in your hair. But what is the difference between these degrees?
High porosity hair
High porosity commonly occurs in hair damaged by heat or chemicals, such as bleach and hair dye. With high porosity hair, the hair cuticles (outer layer of your hair) are wide open and have holes in them. This makes it easy for moisture to penetrate your hair. Unfortunately, these characteristics also cause the hair to lose moisture quickly, causing it to dry quickly. We call this highly porous hair, or in other words, you have high porosity.
Your hair cuticles are a protective layer made of keratin. Keratin is a body's own protein or protein.
Characteristics of high porosity hair:
- Very dry and immediately absorbs the products
- Your hair gets wet quickly
- Often damaged by heat and chemicals
- Poor elasticity
- Comes from using hair care products that contain harsh ingredients
- Many split ends
- Quickly gets a lot of tangles
Tips for high porosity
Your curls, with high porosity, generally need protein more often. Use a nourishing hair mask regularly to reduce high porosity. Afterwards, wash your hair with cold water to 'shock' it and close the hair cuticles.
This way, as much moisture as possible is retained in the hair. With high porosity hair, protein-rich products often work well because they temporarily counteract damage in the hair.
This not only improves moisture retention and thus counteracts dehydration, it also makes hair less likely to break off.
It is advisable to wash your curls once a month with a shampoo. But be sure to use a mild shampoo. The rest of the month, it is best to wash highly porous hair with a conditioner that has cleansing properties.
Low porosity hair
With low porosity, the hair cuticles are nearly closed. This usually occurs in hair that has never or rarely been in contact with chemicals and extreme heat. You could say, generally healthy hair. The downside is that the closed cuticles make it difficult for this hair type to absorb moisture.
Once low porosity hair has absorbed moisture, it also retains it well and stays in for a long time. We call this low porosity hair or low porosity.
Is your hair wet for a long time after washing? And by long we mean more than eight hours, then your hair most likely has low porosity.
Low porosity has a cuticle with flat-lying and overlapping scales. Light reflects off these, making your curls look shiny. Moisture stays on the hair before being absorbed.
Characteristics of low porosity hair:
- Suffers from product accumulation (build-up) or greasy hair
- Takes a long time for hair to dry
- Has been exposed to little to no chemicals or heat
Tips for low porosity
Steam your hair in the shower. This way, you open the hair cuticles and your conditioner or mask will be absorbed much better.
In your subsequent hair routine, do not use too many or too heavy products. After your hair cuticles have closed again, the products often remain on top of your hair.
Use our Curly Hair Towel to get excess water and product out of your hair. This will significantly reduce the drying time of your hair.
Another option is to apply the nourishing products to your hair in the bathroom. Because the bathroom is often still humid and warm, your hair cuticles remain open, allowing the products to be better absorbed into your hair.
Low-porosity curls are prone to build up, leaving you with dry hair that feels heavy or greasy. If this is the case, don't use too many styling products and avoid heavy hair products such as thick oils and heavy creams.
Medium porosity hair
The golden mean. When you have medium porosity hair, you are between high and low. The hair is often healthy and doesn't need much care. It can absorb and retain moisture without too much effort. The hair cuticles are therefore not too open nor too closed.
Characteristics of medium porosity hair:
- Easy to care for
- Often healthy hair
- Can handle both light and heavy products
Tips for medium porosity
With medium porosity hair, you're actually lucky enough to get away with almost anything. Not in the mood for a hair mask? No problem! Your hair will still look fabulous.
But even fabulous hair needs the right care. So wash your hair weekly, use a mask when needed and don't use too heavy products for your hair.
How do I easily test the porosity of my hair?
You can test the porosity of your curls by taking a few loose, washed hairs and placing them in a glass of water.
High porosity: when your curl sinks to the bottom. Your hair absorbs water quickly and therefore sinks.
Low porosity: when your curl stays on the water.
Medium porosity: when your curl sticks to the middle of the glass.
What should I do if my hair is very damaged?
If your hair is so badly damaged that the above tips don't seem to work, you can use a hair reconstructor. This also contains protein, but is more intensive than a protein treatment. This is because a reconstructor addresses more issues than a protein treatment. In fact, a reconstructor puts patches on the areas that are so badly damaged that they cannot be easily repaired. So not just on the hair shaft as with a protein treatment. A reconstructor is actually a temporary solution to restore your hair.
Do you now know how porous your hair is and how to take care of your beautiful head of hair? Share it with us using the hashtag #CGMlook on Instagram! We’d like nothing more than to see your beautiful curls become healthier by the day.
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