Damaged Hair

What is Hair Porosity and How Should It Impact Your Hair Care Routine?

You already know that there are plenty of different hair types, from thin hair to curly hair to damaged hair, but did you know that your strands also have a certain level of porosity and that these levels (ranging from low porosity hair to high porosity hair) can differ greatly from one person to another? Perhaps even more importantly, your hair’s porosity level can—and should—determine how you go about your regular hair care routine, including which system of shampoo and conditioner you use and which type of leave-in hair care products you reach for. Not sure whether your strands are porous? Maybe you don't even know what that means. Keep reading to learn about what hair porosity is, how to conduct your own hair porosity test, and how hair porosity levels could impact your daily hair care routine.

WHAT IS HAIR POROSITY?

If something is porous, per Merriam-Webster, it possesses or is full of pores. And just like your skin, your hair also has pores—although not the same type. All hair is porous, but damaged strands are even more intensely porous, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). In simple terms, hair porosity refers to a strand of hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. Hair that has high porosity can absorb the most moisture, or water, but it's unable to hold onto this moisture (which is not a good thing, since you want to keep your strands hydrated). On the other end of the spectrum is low porosity hair. When your hair has less or very little porosity, it’s able to hold onto moisture better, which helps to keep it from looking dry and damaged. When retained, this moisture can help reduce static and frizz. 

WHAT CAUSES HIGHLY POROUS HAIR?

According to the NCBI, the study they conducted on the topic of hair porosity looked into two possible factors, UV exposure and hair bleaching, that may have an impact on the hair and increase its porosity levels. In addition to avoiding excessive or limiting chemical treatments (including bleaching and coloring your strands), as well as protecting your hair from the sun, there are also certain steps you can take in your hair care routine to help prevent hair from becoming porous and help manage hair that is already porous—but more on those later.

HOW TO CONDUCT A HAIR POROSITY TEST

If you still have no idea whether your hair has high or low porosity, there are some easy at-home tests you can conduct that will help give you a better idea of your hair’s porosity level. One way to do this is to take a strand of your hair—from your hair brush or comb—and drop it into a glass of water. If the strand sinks slowly, then the hair has a normal porosity level. If it sinks to the bottom right away, you have high porosity hair. Another way to test this is even easier: simply spritz some water onto your hair when it’s dry and take note of how fast your hair absorbs the moisture. If it soaks the water up right away, it’s indicative of having high porosity hair. If the water sits on top of your strands for longer, then you likely have low porosity.

Low hair porosity characteristics vs. High hair porosity characteristics

Even without conducting a test, there are certain characteristics of low and high porosity hair that you can look out for.

Low hair porosity characteristics: Your strands take a long time to dry, products tend to sit on top of your hair (rather than sink in quickly), and your hair takes a long time to become fully saturated with water when you wash it.

High hair porosity characteristics: Your strands look and feel dry to the touch, you have excess frizz, and your hair air dries abnormally fast.

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF HIGHLY POROUS HAIR

If you’re convinced that your strands are highly porous, don’t panic. The overall goal of your hair care regimen from now on should be to manage your damaged strands, and there are plenty of products to help you do so.

POROUS HAIR TIP #1: USE A HYDRATING SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER SYSTEM

The goal here is to replenish moisture levels in the hair and help the hair fiber hold onto the moisture you’re supplying. First things first, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner system, like the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo and the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Conditioner.

POROUS HAIR TIP #2: USE A DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT

In addition to using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, you should also regularly use a deep conditioning treatment, such as the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner. You can use this in addition to your regular conditioner, or in lieu of. Just apply onto clean, wet strands and leave on for one minute, then rinse thoroughly and style as usual. Use it regularly and you’ll see less hair breakage.

POROUS HAIR TIP #3: USE A HEAT-PROTECTANT

Although you should really try to avoid using hot tools when you’re trying to address your hair’s porosity levels, we understand that there are just certain times when you aren’t able to skip using your blow-dryer or straightening iron. Before you reach for any of your hot tools, spray your hair with a heat protectant, like the L'Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray, to help protect your strands from becoming even more damaged by the high heat.

POROUS HAIR TIP #4: RINSE WITH LUKEWARM WATER

After you’re done rinsing out your conditioner, the final step in your shower routine should be to rinse your strands under lukewarm water. Using lukewarm H2O over hot will help prevent your shower from drying out your strands further. 

Want more hair tips? Next, read up on exactly How to Use Heat Protectant Before Styling Your Hair.