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How to Determine Your Hair Porosity

Knowing your hair porosity can really change how you care for your hair.

How to Conduct a Hair Porosity Test

If you still have no idea whether your hair has high or low porosity, there are two 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 (you can pluck a piece from your hair brush instead of ripping a piece from your head) 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 mane (rather than sink in quickly) and your hair takes a long time to become fully saturated with water when you wash your hair.  High porosity strands look and feel dry to the touch, they tend to have excess frizz, and your hair air dries abnormally fast. 


What Causes High Porosity in 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. The effects are higher porosity hair that is more susceptible to breakage because the cuticle of the hair is more open and can’t retain moisture, leading to brittle, dry hair.


To avoid highly porous hair, limit chemical treatments (including bleaching and coloring your strands), and protect your hair from the sun with hair sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat or a head scarf. 


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 routine to help manage your high porosity strands along with moisture-sealing hair care products.


1. Clean and Condition Hair With Hydrating Products 

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 to introduce moisture and keep it in your hair.


If you have curly or coily hair, use a highly moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that’ll target high porosity and your curl type. Try L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo which deeply cleanses and hydrated curls without weighing them down. Castor oil is added to help define curls while the infused hyaluronic acid helps lock in long-lasting moisture. Follow up with the similarly formulated L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner to seal in moisture, shape curls and fight humidity for a frizz-free mane. 


For all hair types, especially those with straight hair, that is high in porosity, use L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Conditioner, Paraben-Free. This shampoo cleanses hairs of impurities like dirt, oil and product buildup while revitalizing strands with intense shine and softness. The conditioner includes hyaluronic acid to wrap strands in moisture for up to 72 hours. 


2. Reach for a Moisturizing Treatment

Aside from using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, you should also regularly apply a deep conditioning treatment to your mane once or twice a week. Use L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Elastic Fiber Masque after washing your hair and leave the mask on for five minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly and style as usual. This nourishing hair mask envelops hair in intense moisture to repair damaged strands and renew softness. 


For severely dehydrated hair that can’t seem to hold moisture, try L’Oreal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm Rinse-Out Mask. This highly concentrated deep conditioner provides hair with moisture and protein to repair weak, brittle and easily tangled strands. You can use this mask daily for a three to five-minute treatment, or once a week for 15 to 20 minutes for a deeper treatment. 


3. Always Use a Heat Protectant

Using hot tools consistently is a big no-no, especially when you’re dealing with highly porous hair. You don’t have to give up on your blow-dryer or straightening iron altogether, instead reach for a heat protectant before using any hot styling tool, and limit how often you use heat on your head. Use L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant to seal in moisture and protect hair from heat damage up to 450 degrees. Apply this lightweight cream to towel-dried hair before using your hot styling tool for shinier, frizz-reduced hair. 


4. Use the LOC Method When Styling Hair

As previously mentioned, highly porous hair has cuticles that are wide open, making it hard to lock moisture in. One way to keep this moisture in the hair is by following the LOC method, which requires you to apply your styling products in the following order: Leave-in conditioner first, then a hair oil and finally another styling cream. This method has you add moisture deep in the strand, seal it with an oil and then add more hydration with an additional cream for the exterior of strands. 


This method is ideal for highly porous hair that has a hard time keeping moisture in strands. Start with a water-based leave-in conditioner or spray like L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape Leave-in Spray to open the hair cuticle and fill strands with moisture. Follow up with a hair oil or hair serum to seal in the moisture. 


Use oils and serums with castor oil, jojoba oil or argan oil as they’ve been proven (per the NCBI) to add and seal moisture in strands. Try L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In which is formulated with castor oil to tame frizz, protect hair from heat damage and restore moisture for softer tresses.


Finish your high porosity hair care routine with another cream styling product like L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths Curls Leave-in Conditioner which minimizes frizz and adds even more hydration to the interior and exterior of hair with the formulation of hyaluronic acid and castor oil.  


How to Take Care of Low Porosity Hair 

Low porosity hair types need not worry either. This hair care routine will help penetrate closed cuticles to 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 L’Oréal Paris EverPure Bond Strengthening Pre-Shampoo Treatment before shampooing to open hair cuticles to allow moisture in while strengthening weak hair bonds.   


This treatment will penetrate inside the hair cortex after opening the tightly shut pores to repair hair bonds and add intense hydration when used alongside the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Bond Repair Shampoo with Citric Acid and L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Bond Repair Conditioner with Citric Acid


2. Use the LCO Method When Styling Hair

To make sure your hair stays moisturized all day long, use the LCO method which has you add the moisturizing hair care products first (leave-in conditioner followed by more hair cream) before sealing it all in with an oil. 


Start with the lightweight L’Oréal Paris Sulfate Free Simply Clean Curl Cocoon Creme to help open the hair cuticle and add moisture without weighing down strands. Then, follow up with another hair cream to target dehydrated strands that need a lot of moisture. Try L’Oreal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Moisture Plump Serum to deliver intense moisture without coating hair in a thick texture that may lead to excessive product buildup. The serum helps detangle hair, shape curls and add shine, making it ideal for all hair types.


Finish your low porosity hair care routine with a hair oil to seal in all the nourishing moisture you just added to your strands. Use a hair oil or hair serum like Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In.


3. Use Heat When Conditioning

Heat and steam relax the hair cuticle, allowing your low porosity hair to absorb more moisture from the inside out. This allows water vapor to get into the hair shaft. After shampooing apply conditioner to your hair. Cover your head with a shower cap or heat cap and then use a steamer on it for 15 minutes before rinsing the conditioner out. 


 If you don’t have a dedicated hair steam — you’re not alone — simply cover your head with a shower cap and then place a very hot hand towel (ringed of water but slightly damp) and place it on the cap. Then, add another cap on top of the towel and you’ve got you’re own at-home hair steamer.  This hair hack turns your conditioner into a hair treatment with the help of a little steam. The results are more nourished hair with defined curls and waves, or sleek straight strands — depending on your hair type. 


Next: 8 Ways To Stretch Natural Hair Without Using Heat

Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn

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