UG: How To Test Your Hair’s Porosity Level

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Let’s talk about how well your hair can retain moisture, otherwise known as porosity. Hair porosity is basically how well your hair is able to “absorb and hold moisture”. It may be genetic, but it can also be affected by external factors, such as heat or chemical processing. Identifying where your hair falls under the porosity spectrum will go a long way in determining which products you should use, and how much to apply.

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How to Determine Hair Porosity

There are two sure-fire ways of identifying your hair’s porosity levels, and they are:

  1. The Float Test, which involves taking a few strands of your hair from your comb and dropping them into a bowl of water. Letting them sit for 2-4 minutes will determine the results. If hair strands float, you have low porosity. If it sinks, you have high porosity.
  • The Slip’n’Slide Test, which says that after taking a strand of your hair and sliding your finger up the shaft, toward the scalp, the presence of little bumps indicates a lifted cuticle which in turn indicates high porosity. The absence of it(smooth) indicates low porosity.
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Now that you have been able to determine whether your hair has high or low porosity, let’s see what to do about it, shall we?

Low Porosity:  Great news! Hair with low porosity has a “tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales that lay flat”. Translation: is considered healthy and is often very shiny! It repels moisture and resists the penetration of chemicals. It’s also prone to build-up from protein-rich deep conditioning products, so you might want to stick to protein-free deep conditioning treatments to help open the tightly bound cuticle. Low porosity hair craves moisture, so it helps to use moisturizers rich in shea butter and coconut oil to hold moisture. Lighter liquids such as hair milk also go a long way in keeping your hair from looking oily or greasy.

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Medium Porosity: Requiring the least amount of care, hair with medium porosity are great for styling and can be permed or coloured with great results. Though over time, hair tends to become damaged. The cuticle in medium porosity hair is looser, allowing just the right amount of moisture and preventing excess from escaping. You can choose to condition but do so occasionally, preferably without protein.

High Porosity: Bad news. As a result of damage from chemical processing or an inherited gene, high porosity hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle, which absorbs way too much moisture which in turn makes hair frizz up and tangled in humid weather. Simple acts such as swimming or even shampooing can create more damage due to the way moisture is absorbed rapidly. Here’s what to do – use anti-humectants when the weather is really hot or humid as well as leave-in conditioners, moisturizes and sealers. This will help in sealing the damaged cuticle and preventing the absorption of excess moisture.


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