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Porosity: All About Hair Porosity & Moisturizing Natural Hair

What are your natural hair struggles? That is a question I recently posted to my luvs on my Instagram account. I asked the quesiton because in 2017 I want to see all my subscribers, supporters, followers,etc. mastering challenges on their own and LuvMika is here to help. The majority of the responses that I got back pertained to moisturizing natural hair.
I have a plethora of videos in which I’ve shared how I moisturize my natural hair, products that have left me with moisturized results, but y’all there’s one little EXTREMELY crucial aspect of maintaining moisturized natural hair that I have never shared and it is hair porosity.
So if you are..
  • struggling with constantly dry natural hair
  • stuck with products that just don’t seem to be doing anything for you
  • straight up tyahd (Caribbean translation: tired) of natural hair fails
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Because in this post we will be discussing…
  • the definition of hair porosity
  • the different types of hair porosity
  • tests and clues to determine your hair porosity type
  • how your hair porosity dictates your moisturizing regimen
What is Hair Porosity? 
Hair porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb and also lose moisture. This ability to absorb and/or lose moisture is based on the very structure of your hair strands, more specifically your hair’s cuticles. Looking up close at the magnified structure of a hair strand you will see little shingles or panels that run across down each hair strand. These are your hair cuticles and the positioning of those cuticles dictate what type of hair porosity you have.
Natural Hair Porosity
The three types of hair porosity are low porosity, medium (or “normal”) porosity, and high porosity. All of which has to do with the way your cuticles are set up.
  • Low porosity hair strands have cuticles that are tightly closed down along the strands. This makes it difficult for moisture to get into your hair.
  • High porosity hair strands have cuticles that are wide open. Getting moisture into highly porous hair is very easy, but it’s also easy to lose the moisture because those cuticles are open.
  • Medium “normal” porosity is the  “goldilocks” of all three porosity types. The cuticles are not flailing open, but they’re not closed shut either. They’re “just right” in the middle.
How Determine Your Hair Porosity Type
While it’s relatively easy to look at your hair under a super expensive microscope, because not many of us have a microscope lying around in our homes. 🙂 No worries!
There are two common tests in which you can determine what type of hair porosity you have.
The Strand Test for Hair Porosity
Taking a strand from your head. Hold the end (not the roots side) between your fingers. Slide your fingers to the roots side of the strand.
If you felt friction, bumps, or any abrasiveness, that indicates your cuticles are open and have either high porosity or medium porosity hair.  If you did not feel any abrasiveness or bumps, that indicates your cuticles are closed rather tightly and you just may have low porosity.
For a more definitive answer, you may want to follow-up with the water test.
Hair Porosity Tests Natural Hair
The Water Test for Hair Porosity
Taking a couple of strands from your head. Place the strands in a container of water (preferably transparent for observation purposes) Wait 3-5 minutes and observe the position of the hair in the glass of water.
  • Top of the Glass: If your hair is still at the top of the water, that indicates that your hair has low porosity. The cuticles are shut and are not allowing much moisture into the hair strand.
  • Suspended/Middle of the Glass: if your hair is suspended somewhere in the middle of the water, that indicates that your hair has medium “normal” hair porosity.
  • Bottom of the Glass: If your hair is at the bottom, that indicates that those cuticles were wide open and drew in as much moisture as they could take. You have high porosity hair.
Other Clues that Indicate Your Hair Porosity
If you’ve been caring for your natural hair and trying different regimens for a while, you may have already gotten a few clues as to what your hair porosity is.
Clues to High Porosity
  • dries rapidly once wet
  • shrinks really quickly once wet
  • hair is absorbed quickly
Clues to Low Porosity
  • long drying time
  • water beads up when applied to hair
  • products feel like they’re sitting on the hair vs penetrating the hair
I Know My Hair Porosity What Now?
Your hair porosity, dictates what type of moisturizing products and moisturizing methods that you should incorporate into your hair care regimen. Ask yourself “what is the problem when it comes to moisture in your porosity hair type?”
Moisturizing High Porosity Hair
  • Problem: The problem with high porosity hair is the ease in which moisture leaves your hair because of your open cuticles.
  • Solution: Use efficient sealants.
    • Heavy butters and oils are the perfect for sealing in between your open cuticles and providing long-lasting moisture. Light oils may seal your hair as well, but you’ll find that your moisturized hair won’t stay that way as long. You may need to remoisturize more often with a lighter oil.
Moisturizing Low Porosity Hair
  • Problem: The problem with low porosity hair is the difficulty of getting moisture into your hair.
  • Solution:  Incorporate heat into your hair care regimen to lift your cuticles so that they can receive moisture.
    • The use of a steamer, steam from your warm showers, hair dryer and other heating options encourages your cuticles to open.
Moisturizing Medium Porosity Hair
While moisturizing your hair and retaining moisture may not be a challenge, you may have to be mindful of  oils, butters, and other heavy that may weigh your hair down.
Share this post with anyone that is struggling with moisturizing their natural hair and/or new naturals in need of Natural Hair 101 help.