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What is Hair Porosity?

Measure Hairs Porosity Level - Hairs ability to absorb and hold moisture - Hair Care Blog

Are there different levels of hair porosity?

The porosity level is a measurement of your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture into the cortex. It is determined by how easily moisture and oils can pass through the flexible outer layer of the hair strand, called the cuticle.

Low Porosity Hair

Has tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales that lay flat making it difficult for moisture to penetrate the cortex to provide hydration. These close together scales on the cuticle also make it hard for moisture to be released from the hair.

Medium Porosity Hair 

Has a looser cuticle layer, allowing for a steady but moderate flow of moisture in and out of your hair.

High Porosity Hair 

Has raised scales or gaps in the cuticle allowing moisture to easily pass in and out of the hair usually resulting in dry and sometimes fuzzy texture.

Determining your hair porosity will help you to understand what your hair needs and what chemical treatments it can take.


What causes the change in porosity levels?

Porosity is mostly determined by genetics, but it can also be affected by external factors including;

  • pH imbalances

  • Heated styling equipment (curling/straightening irons, hot rollers, blow dryers)

  • Direct sunlight exposure

  • Swimming in chlorinated water

  • Bleaching or highlighting hair

  • Chemical relaxers or permanent waves

  • Product build-up

  • Over brushing of hair


Low Porosity Hair - Characteristics

  • Hair takes a long time to become fully saturated with water when you wash it

  • Water often beads on hair on the outside of the hair and doesn’t get absorbed.

  • It’s resistant to water, creams, and oils

  • Hair takes long time to dry completely

  • Hair lacks elasticity

  • Products tend to sit on top of your hair and weigh it down product

  • Products tend to build up on the hair

Low Porosity Hair - What to use

  • To avoid product, build up apply products to slightly damp hair and evenly distribute

  • Use lightweight formulas or liquid-based products to help avoid product build up.

  • A weekly clarifying shampoo is great to remove build-up

  • Heated conditioning treatments and hot oils help penetrate the moisture and hydration into your hair

  • Protein-free daily conditioners with humectants (products that attract moisture) like glycerine or honey

  • Moisturizers rich in emollients such as jojoba oil, Shea butter, coconut oil, or mineral oil.


Medium Porosity Hair - Characteristics

  • Hair responds well to hair colouring and chemical treatments

  • Hold styles well and doesn’t require a lot of styling product

  • Hair looks shiny and has natural volume

  • Hair requires less moisturiser and absorbs it easily

  • Hair usually doesn’t get fizzy or visibly drier as the day goes on

Medium Porosity Hair - What to use

  • Be mindful of over styling the hair with heated tools as this can change the porosity level higher

  • Treat your hair to a high protein hair-strengthening mask once a week only


High Porosity Hair - Characteristics

  • Looks dull, no shine

  • Hair air dry’s really fast

  • Excess frizz and dryness

  • Hair constantly tangles and is prone to knots which causes breakage

  • Hair doesn’t get weighed down or greasy when it soaks up hair oils

High Porosity Hair - What to use

  • Use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to replenish moisture levels in the hair

  • To repair the hair, use a deep conditioning treatment

  • Protein-packed deep conditioner will help strengthen the hair cuticles, but too much protein can cause breakage

  • Use anti-frizz products when it’s humid to seal the cuticles like heavy butters/creams, thicker oils, and leave-in conditioner.(Ex: raw shea butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, palm oil)

  • Try to avoid heat that may further dry out your strands, if you need to use the blow-dryer, straighter or curling tong, spray hair with a heat protectant spray to help protect your strands from the high heat temperature.

  • Rinse hair with lukewarm water will prevent hair strands from drying out further


How do I test for my hair porosity level?

The Float Test

1. Place a single strand of clean hair into a bowl of water (hair covered in products or dirty can affect the results)

2. Let the hair sit in the water for a few minutes

3. If your hair floats you have low porosity

4. If your hair sinks, you have high porosity

5. If your hair floats somewhere in the middle of the bowl you have medium porosity

The Slip ‘n Slide Test

  1. Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up it, toward your scalp.

  2. If you feel small bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity.If your fingers slide smoothly over the hairyour cuticle is bound tight and you have low porosity hair.

The Spray Bottle Test

1. Take a small section of your hair and mist it with a spray bottle.

2. Watch the how the hair absorbs the water

3. If the water beads up on your hair, it is low porosity.

4. If the water absorbs into the hair after a few minutes you have medium porosity hair.

5. If it absorbs quickly, your hair is high porosity.


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