Years ago when I started my transition to natural, I struggled with selecting products for my hair and my daughters' hair. I would spend at least $100 each month on various brands and products that I thought would work for our particular hair type. Eventually I got tired of wasting money on products that either over moisturized, under moisturized, weighed down, or left our curls lifeless. It wasn't until I began researching on the internet about how to retain moisture in curly hair that I learned the two most important words in my natural hair journey thus far. HAIR POROSITY. Understanding even the basics can transform your hair and the way you select your hair products forever! But choose to neglect it and you'll suffer countless hours of trial and error with loads of different products, hundreds of dollars spent, and many unnecessary bad hair days. Who has time for that?! The latter doesn't have to be you. In this article we'll cover some useful ways to help you discover your hair porosity and get into detail about what each porosity can tell you about how to manage your hair.
What Does Porosity Mean?
Before we learn about the various ways of testing our hair for its porosity, let's dive into the actual meaning of porosity. Porosity actually stems form the Greek word poros for "pore", which means "passage". So from there we can say that things that are porous have tiny holes that allow liquids to travel through them rather easily. There are 3 different types of hair porosity: low, medium, and high. Those with low porosity hair have cuticles that are flat and tight, making it very difficult for water and various products to be absorbed into the hair shaft. Medium porosity hair types have slightly raised hair cuticles. Those with medium or normal porosity hair typically have hair that is easy to manage and requires the least amount maintenance. High porosity hair, refers to hair cuticles that are raised so much that water and product can be absorbed incredibly easy but can escape the hair shaft extremely fast. This porosity type is more fragile and is more prone to damage, so it needs more care.Now that we have an understanding about what porosity means, let's get into some super simple ways you can find out your hair porosity.
1. Porosity Quiz
One way to find out your porosity type is by taking an online quiz. Hair porosity quizzes will help you figure out your porosity type by asking a series of questions about how your hair looks or how it feels and behaves with certain products. It's important to be as honest as possible while answering the questions to ensure an accurate typing of your porosity type. If you are on a time crunch and need to know your porosity type now, then click HERE.
2. Cup Test
For this test, you will need a cup of water (I prefer a clear glass cup), and a clean strand of hair. This test must be done on clean hair to yield accurate results. To do this test, place a clean strand of hair into a cup of water. Wait 5-10 minutes before checking the placement of the hair strand. If the strand floats near the top of the cup, then you have low porosity hair. If the strand sinks toward the bottom of the cup, then you have high porosity. If your strand stays in the middle, then you have normal or medium porosity hair. This test can yield inconsistent results depending on the products you used in your hair so please keep that in mind. It's best to do this test on clean, unconditioned, air dried hair.
3. Spray Bottle Test
Another very simple way of identifying your hair porosity is by doing the spray bottle test. All you need for this test is a spray bottle with room temperature water and preferably, freshly washed, dried hair. You'll take the spray bottle and mist water on your hair. Pay attention to the water droplets on your hair strands, if they sit on top of your hair after 3-5 minutes, you most likely have low porosity hair. Water droplets that easily absorb after a short amount of time would qualify you as someone with high porosity. But if the water droplets sat on top of your hair and after a few minutes absorbed into your hair, that means you most likely have medium (normal) porosity hair.
What To Do Once You Learn Your Porosity Type?
You chose the best test, you've done the test, and now you've got your results...but what's next? Caring for your porosity type is just as important as knowing your porosity type because each type requires different techniques and products. If you already took our Hair Porosity Quiz then you were already given tips to help manage your porosity type. If you chose to complete 1 of the 2 other tests then follow us for some quick and useful tips to help you care for your tresses and get you started on the right path to hair excellence.
Because this porosity type has difficulty getting moisture into the hair shaft some techniques to incorporate in your hair care routine are pre-poo treatments. Pre-poo treatments are, in most cases, the first step in your wash day- it is how you condition and detangle your hair prior to shampooing. This step is important to low porosity hair types because it allows for your hair to receive extra moisture prior to shampooing your hair. You can use light weight oils, conditioners, detanglers to aid in your pre-poo treatment.
Another technique that can be useful is deep conditioning with heat. We all know that deep conditioning hair can have tremendous benefits on hair, but including heat on your hair while deep conditioning causes the layers on the hair cuticle to raise just enough to allow the moisture from your deep conditioner to travel into your hair shaft. This process is super simple to do, apply your favorite deep conditioner and put on your heat cap. Allow the heat to work the deep conditioner into your hair.
The products you use to style with are also very important. Those with low porosity hair should avoid thick, creamy butters and creams, as they can be too heavy for your hair. Use the LLG Method for great wash and go results. The first “L” stands for Liquid. This liquid could be water or even a detangling hair spray. The second “L” stands for Leave In Conditioner. It’s important to keep your leave in conditioners light weight, so make sure they are water based. If they seem heavy, they probably are so don’t be afraid to add water to thin out your leave in. The “G” stands for gel. Once again, make sure your gel is water based and contains no alcohol.
Those with low porosity hair often suffer from product buildup. To combat this, be sure to use clarifying shampoos that will thoroughly remove excess product from your strands. Try incorporating shampoos more often than co-washing. This will also aid in creating a more open hair cuticle for deep conditioning.
High Porosity hair types have issues with moisture too but mainly with keeping moisture inside the hair shaft. Pre-poos work great for this porosity type! Using a combination of light weight oils (jojoba, grapeseed, almond) with more penetrating, nourishing oils (avocado, hemp, olive) to prepare your hair for shampooing would improve manageability and avoid too much moisture loss after shampooing.
One of the most important tips for those with high porosity hair is to NEVER SKIP DEEP CONDITIONING. Deep conditioning should be done every week. Thick and creamy deep conditioners work best. The trick is to get as much moisture into the hair as possible. Be mindful if your deep conditioner contains too much protein because your hair could become dry and brittle with too much protein. To help keep moisture into the hair shaft, it would be helpful to use cool water when rinsing out your deep conditioner.
When it comes to styling, those with high porosity hair tend to work well with the LOC method or the LCO method. Both methods are great especially when applied to soaking wet hair. The “L” in both methods stand for Leave In Conditioner. The “O” stands for Oil. Make sure the oils that you choose are great sealant oils like castor, grapeseed, and jojoba to help seal in the moisture you gained from the deep conditioning and leave in conditioner. The “C” stands for Cream. Great creams for high porosity hair types are thick, creamy, and filled with nourishing butters and oils. Using the LCO over the LOC is a preference. One involves applying the oil before the cream and the other applies the oil as the final step. Both are great techniques, but ultimately you have to find what works best for your hair in terms of moisture retention. Till next time beauty!