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5 min read

How to test your hair porosity level (and why you should know)

How to test your hair porosity level (and why you should know)

You’re familiar with your hair color, texture, and length, but do you know about its porosity?

If not, you’re not alone. While the rest can be determined at just a glance, hair porosity takes a little more work to figure out. Once you do figure it out, though, you can tailor your hair care regime to suit your hair better and to help it be its best.

What is hair porosity?

Porosity measures how easily liquids can be absorbed by something. When we talk about hair porosity, we’re concerned mostly about things like water, oils, and dyes as well as hair’s ability to retain moisture.

Hair porosity that is more or less than ideal can be the underlying cause for frizz, unmanageable locks, and even uneven hair color.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change your hair’s porosity because most of it depends on your genes, but factors like heat and chemical treatments can have an effect.

Types of hair porosity

The porosity of your hair relies on whether the cuticle lies flat or is raised. The cuticle is the outer layer of the hair shaft and is made up of overlapping cells that protect the inner parts.

Low porosity. The cuticle lies flat, which means that it doesn’t absorb water or products very easily, which tends to cause a build-up of product or your scalps natural oils (i.e., greasy hair).

Medium porosity. This is where you want to be. Hair can absorb products but can still retain its moisture. Medium porosity means even hair color treatments and hair that’s easy to style.

High porosity. You can blame genetics or damage (or both) for high porosity hair. The cuticle is raised and easily absorbs moisture, but it also easily loses it. Hair can appear frizzy and straw-like.

How to test your hair porosity

Since you can’t tell by merely looking at your hair, here are a few different tests that you can do at home to determine your hair’s porosity level.

Slide test. This one is the easiest to do. Take a section of your hair, pull it taut, then keep it taut as you grip near the ends with your other thumb and forefinger. Slide your fingers up toward the roots and pay attention to the texture. Smooth means low porosity, mostly smooth means medium, and rough means high porosity.

Float test. Take a strand of hair that you’ve shed, and put it in a glass of water. If it floats, it has low porosity, if it sinks slowly, it has medium porosity, and if it sinks quickly, it has high porosity.

Spray test. This one is similar to the float test. You’ll need a spray bottle of water and dry hair. Take a section and spritz it, then watch how the water absorbs. If the drops sit on the hair, it has low porosity, if it absorbs slowly, it has medium porosity, and if it absorbs quickly, it has high porosity.

Try one or all three to determine which level of porosity your hair has, then it’s time for the next step.

How to care for low-porosity hair

Avoid oils, as they’re meant to seal the cuticle and yours is already sealed. Besides, the oil will just sit on top of the hair strands and make it look greasy. Slightly alkaline products will help slightly lift the cuticle and help moisture penetrate your hair, and applying them when hair is slightly damp is best.

How to care for medium-porosity hair

It doesn’t take anything too special to take care of medium porosity hair, lucky you! Keep processes that damage hair, like heat styling and bleaching, to a minimum. Weekly deep conditioning treatments never hurt.

How to care for high-porosity hair

How to get moisture in and keep it there, that’s the question. Naturally Curly suggests that you use a deep conditioner every wash, in addition to adding a protein treatment to your hair regimen.

Oils can be used to seal moisture in at the end of a shampoo and styling routine. Acidic products (think apple cider vinegar) will also help smooth a rough, raised cuticle.

Final thoughts

Now that you know your hair’s porosity level, you’re armed with the knowledge of how to properly care for it. With so many shampoos, conditioners, treatments, gels, cremes, and sprays to choose from, it can be a relief to be able to narrow down what’s best for your hair.

Knowing what your hair needs is the first step to a manageable, healthy mane, whether it’s acidic and oily products or alkaline ones. Embrace and enjoy your beautiful hair!

At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

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    At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

    Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

    Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

    JOIN THE GROUP