By now, you likely know that there are plenty of hair types, including thin hair, curly hair, and dry hair. However, your hair type isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to caring for your hair properly.
Every strand on your head has a certain level of porosity and hair porosity levels can differ greatly from one person to the next. Your hair’s porosity level can — and should — determine how you create your hair care routine, including which system of shampoo and conditioner you use and which type of leave-in hair care products you reach for.
If you’re not too sure whether you have high porosity hair or low porosity hair, we’re here to assist. Keep reading to learn about what hair porosity is, how to conduct your own hair porosity test, and how hair porosity levels can impact your daily hair care routine.
What Is Hair Porosity?
Much like your skin, your hair also has pores —although not the same type. Think of the pores on your strands like shingles on a roof. If your hair is highly porous or your pores are “open,” the shingles are lifted. If your hair has low porosity, the shingles lie flat against your strands. All hair is porous, but damaged strands are even more intensely porous, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
So, what exactly is the meaning of hair porosity? Simply put, hair porosity refers to a strand of hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Hair with 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 can be hard to get moisture into your strands. But when you can, it’s able to retain long-lasting moisture, which helps to keep it from looking dry and damaged. As a result, this moisture can help reduce static and frizz.
What Causes Highly Porous Hair?
A study conducted by the NCBI on the topic of hair porosity looked into two possible factors that may have an impact on the hair and increase its porosity levels: UV exposure and hair bleaching. Both were determined to impact porosity, while the effects of chemical damage, like that caused by bleaching, were more immediate.
In addition to limiting chemical treatments (including bleaching and coloring your strands) and protecting your hair from the sun, there are other steps you can take to help prevent hair from becoming porous and manage hair that is already porous—but before you can do that you need to know what hair porosity you’re working with.
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 to give yourself a better idea of your hair’s porosity level. One way to do this is to take a clean strand of your hair 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 that’s drinking up the water. If It floats on top, you have low porosity hair that repels moisture.
If you’re looking for an even easier way to tell, simply spritz some water onto your hair when it’s dry and take note of how fast your hair absorbs it. If it soaks the water up right away, it’s indicative of having highly porous hair. If the water sits on top of your strands for longer, then your hair likely has a low porosity.
How to Know if Your Hair Is Low or High Porosity
Even without conducting a test, there are certain characteristics of low porosity and high porosity hair that you can look out for.
Low porosity strands tend to dry slowly, 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 porosity strands look and feel dry to the touch, they tend to have excess frizz, and hair air dries abnormally fast.
How to Take Care of High Porosity Hair
If you’re convinced that your strands are highly porous, don’t panic. All you need is a hair care regimen to help manage your damaged strands, and we’ve got just the products to help you do so.
1. Use a Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner System
When your hair is highly porous, the goal is to replenish the hair’s moisture levels 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 Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo and the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner.
2. Use a Hair Mask
Aside from using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner system, you should also regularly use a deep conditioning treatment, such as the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Elastic Fiber Masque. Once or twice a week, apply to your strands after washing and leave on for five minutes, then rinse thoroughly and style as usual. Use it regularly, and you’ll see less hair breakage.
3. Always Use a Heat Protectant
Using hot tools consistently is a no-no, especially when you’re dealing with highly porous hair. However, we understand that giving up your blow-dryer or straightening iron cold turkey is no easy feat. Before you reach for any of your hot tools, apply a heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant, which works to seal in moisture and protect the hair from heat damage.
How to Take Care of Low Porosity Hair
Low porosity hair types need not to worry either. This hair care routine will help infuse moisture into your strands.
1. Use a Pre-Poo Treatment
A pre-shampoo, or pre-poo treatment is applied to hair before shampooing, and it helps to give strands an additional layer of moisture. Try using the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm Rinse-Out Mask before shampooing. Coat your hair with the mask, then let the pre-poo sit on your hair for 5 to 10 minutes before moving on to shampooing and conditioning.
2. Use Heat When Conditioning
Heat and steam relaxes the hair cuticle, allowing your low porosity hair to really get moisturized from the inside out. This allows water vapor to get into the hair shaft. After shampooing with the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free apply a conditioner like the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Hyaluron Plump Hydrating Conditioner, Paraben-Free to your hair. Cover it with a shower cap or heat cap and then use a steamer on it for 15 minutes before rinsing the conditioner out.
3. Use Water-Based Leave-In Products
To make sure your hair stays moisturized all day long, a hydrating leave-in product that has a water base is a must-have. Reach for the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Moisture Plump Serum, as it's great for all hair types and can be used daily.
Edited by: Témi Adebowale, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn
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