By now, you likely know that there are plenty of hair types, from thin hair to curly hair to damaged hair. However, your hair type isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to caring for your hair properly. If you’ve never heard of hair porosity before, now’s the time to listen up. 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.
Not too sure whether you have high porosity hair or low porosity hair? Lucky for you, 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?
The meaning of porous, per Merriam-Webster, is that something possesses or is full of pores. 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 strand. 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?
According to the NCBI, the study they conducted 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 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 to give yourself 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. If It floats on top, you have low porosity hair.
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 the moisture. 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.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LOW AND HIGH POROSITY HAIR
Even without conducting a test, there are certain characteristics of low porosity and high porosity hair that you can look out for.
Low porosity characteristics: Your strands 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 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 POROUS 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.
POROUS HAIR TIP #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 EverPure Moisture Shampoo and the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Conditioner.
POROUS HAIR TIP #2: USE A DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT
Aside from using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner system, you should also regularly use a deep conditioning treatment, such as the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner. Once or twice a week, swap out your regular conditioner for this nourishing treatment. 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
Using hot tools consistently is a no-no, especially when you’re dealing with highly porous hair. However, we understand giving up your blow-dryer or straightening iron cold turkey is no easy feat. Before you reach for any of your hot tools, spray your strands with a heat protectant, like the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray, which works to seal in moisture and protect the hair from heat damage.
POROUS HAIR TIP #4: RINSE WITH LUKEWARM WATER
Once you rinse out your conditioner, follow up by rinsing your strands with lukewarm water. Using lukewarm instead of scorching hot H2O will help prevent your shower from drying out your strands further.
Next up: Want more hair tips? Next, read up on exactly How to Use Heat Protectant Before Styling Your Hair.