Insane Guide to HAIR POROSITY: type and test

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The motive behind finding your hair porosity 

If you want your hair worries to cut down by half, you must know your hair porosity. Hair type can be understood by shape, density,elasticity and porosity. Here, we will try understanding your hair type by “Hair porosity”. Once you know your it, you will be able to identify, why your hair is too greasy or too dry? And what methods can you apply to protect such extreme conditions? It will also help you to keep your hair well hydrated and smooth. It will also answer the million-dollar question of whether to oil or not? To go for protein treatment or not? Lastly, picking up the right hair product will become lenient. Comprehending it will also help you make most of your conditioning products.

What is hair porosity

it is all about our hair’s ability to hold and absorbing moisture in these pores. Thus porosity of our hair reflects how proper oils and moisture passes in or out of the external layer of hair, which is also known as the cuticle.

Porosity of your hair can be of 3 types.

Low Hair Porosity 

The cuticle of the hair tightly clasps each other, which restricts moisture or natural oil entering your hair. This hair type is often known as the most resistant. As a result, you can observe the following

Characteristics of Low porous hair
  • Your hair takes a lot of time to dry after a wash 
  • Products like shampoo or oil build-up on hair and do not absorb easily 
  • Does not responds well to hair colour or any other chemical treatments 
  • Hair lacks volume or elasticity 
  • You get dandruff easily 
  • Your hair gets dirty and greasy often 
  • Conditioners do not work very well on your hair 
  • Less frizzy hair 
  • Less static

Medium/Normal Hair Porosity

It is ideal porosity in terms of hair type. Since this kind of hair has a looser cuticle layer which allows  moderate flow of moisture sinking in. This hair type absorbs and retains the perfect amount of moisture

Characteristics of Medium or Normal porous hair
  • Shiny and healthy hair with lots of volumes
  • You will find it easy to style your hair
  •  Your hair will respond satisfactorily to chemical treatment like colouring, straightening etc.
  • Frequent treatments on hair can quickly destroy the hair structure and will make it high porosity which will make it difficult for you to maintain your hair

High Porosity Hair 

As the hair is highly porous due to raised cuticles, this hair type can quickly absorb the moisture, which makes it easy for hair to dry out fast. The hair type does not retain or hold on the humidity for more extended periods leaving the hair strands dehydrated.

Characteristics of Highly porous hair
  • Hair dries quickly after showering 
  • Becomes frizzy and rough
  • Tangles easily as the cuticles get stuck between each other
  • Your hair feels dull and looks  dry
  • Causes split ends.
  • Easy hair breakage

Four possible ways to do “Hair porosity” test at home?

While the best and accurate method to check for hair porosity is gas sorption, which can get tested in the lab. This test determines how air flows or passes through the hair. Since this test is time-consuming and expensive, we can try a few tests at home, which can give you a hint about your hair porosity. It may or may not be 100 per cent accurate, but you will be able to gauge your porosity level to some extent.

Also, note if you are not convinced with one method try the rest to come to a conclusion

Before we get into the topic of testing hair porosity, let’s deep dive into a prerequisite to taking the test

The requirement for taking the hair porosity test are 

  • Hair should be clean preferably recently washed with a mild shampoo
  • Do not apply conditioner or any other product 
  • Let the hair naturally dry. No blow dry or towel rub should be used to dry the hair 

1.The Strand Test

Pick single strand of your hair in between your fingers and run your fingers from bottom to upward trying to reach towards the scalp. Observe what you feel

The Strand test result 

If your hair stand is bumpy, frizzy, dry or breaks, then you have a high porosity level.

On the contrary, if it easily slides and feels hard, you have low porosity level 

If your hair feels smooth, then you have medium porosity level

2.The Mist test 

Drizzle water on a small section of your hair. Observe the effect

The Mist test result 

If the water droplets are quickly absorbed, then you have high porosity hair 

 On the other hand, you if you see beads getting formed by droplets, then you have low porosity hair 

If the water droplets get absorbed after a few minutes later, you have medium porosity level

3.Fragrance test 

Visit a place with strong smell spice market, fish market, smoking room or any barbecue grilling place and stay there for 20 -30 minutes 

Fragrance test result

Check if that smell lingers with you for quite some time then porosity level of your hair will be high.

If your hair does not catch any odour from that place, then you have low porosity hair. 

This test might give you near to accurate results as this is similar to gas sorption method 

4.Float Test 

Remove a single strand of hair from your scalp and put it in a glass of room temperature water.

Float Test Result

Observe how the hair sinks in that glass of water.

If the hair quickly falls within 5 minutes then you have highly porous hair On the contrary if the hair takes time to sink then you have medium porosity and if it floats then your  porosity is low

Though this is the easiest method to try at home, this method has been criticized for not being accurate; hence I would suggest you to take another test as well to conclude.

Reasons affecting your hair porosity 

  • Genetics 

Blame it on your genes but not always as it is not the “only” contributing factor for your hair porosity. So expect similar porosity of hair as your parents, grandparents etc. so if they have high porosity hair. It is a high chance you will have it too.

Nonetheless, with proper hair care, you can achieve improvement in texture in the long run.

  •  Temperature

if you use too much heat to style your hair or to dry quite often you raise and damages the cuticles of your hair which then is unable to hold moisture leading to frizz and dey hair and making your hair a highly porous.

  • Chemical treatment 

If you use bleach, Hair dye or go for treatment like hair relaxing, hair straightening etc. you are exposing your hair for irreparable harm to your hair cuticles changing 

  •  Swimming 

Saltwater or chlorine water can wash off your natural oil produced by the scalp, which helps in protecting your hair from daily wear and tear. Wearing protective gear before dipping into the swimming pool will be a great idea 

  • Environment

Too much exposure to the sun for prolonged periods can harm the cuticles increasing  porosity hence it is advisable to wear a hat or scarf to cover your mane from ultraviolet radiation

  • Aggressive usage of hair products/ tools.

If you scrub your hair too much while shampooing or towel dry by rubbing, then it will slowly and steadily lead to dryness and frizz. Using fine-tooth comp also adds to the problem

6 Tips to improve Low porosity hair

  1. Deep Conditioning with heat – Get into a habit of deep condition with some steam. You can go for steam sources like a thermal heat cap or a hooded dryer whichever you are comfortable in.
  2. Start your hair wash with lukewarm water which will help to open the hair cuticle. After using conditioner rinse with cold water to close and seal the moister within the hair shaft.
  3. Pick products which are Water-Based or list their first ingredient as water or natural Humectants such as aloe vera gel, honey or glycerine
  4. Say “No” to protein treatments – Protein based products or therapy will make your hair stiff and brittle leading to hair breakage 
  5. The right pick of oil would be those who are light, such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, argan oil, and grapeseed oil.
  6. Since product buildup is an issue with low porosity hair. Pick shampoo which removes dirt and help in the elasticity of your hair most probably containing products like bentonite clay or rhassoul clay. This kind of products clean your hair and works like a miracle. You can 

6 Tips for improve High porosity hair 

  1. Say Yes to Protein treatment. It will help your hair to strengthen and improve eventually. Make this a regular and must part of your hair care routine. Proteins will help to fill the gaps in your hair shaft temporarily. Here it is important to note that you try to achieve a sweet spot where to give protein to your hair but don’t get into protein overload else you will do more damage than right.
  2. Use negligible or less heat and chemical on your hair. If you have high porosity hair since birth, then heat and chemicals might further damage it. If you have got such porosity with chemical wear and tear then, you have to chop it off. The best option would be getting into a healthy hair habit by using hair  protectant before any heat treatment
  3. Go for heavy creams and oil. Shea butter, coconut butter are very well composed and can do wonders if you use it for high porosity hair.
  4. Always apply a conditioner after every wash. It is essential to moisturise tall porosity hair as it hydrates the hair gaps, which helps in strengthening it.
  5. Say no to humectant, silicone, sulphate and paraben based products or shampoo. The idea is to provide moisture but at the same time not weigh your hair down.
  6. Maintain the ph balance of your scalp. Use apple cider vinegar rinse once a week to seal the moisture inside the scalp.

Hope by now you must have picked up your ideas about your hair care depending upon your hair porosity. I should repeat this that one can have both low and high porosity hair, so perfection is not the key. You should just go by what your hair type is in the majority and overall.  Once you start your hair care journey, you will slowly and steadily precisely know how your hair behaves. 


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