Hair Porosity Explained

“Hair porosity” may not be a term you hear often but knowing what type you have can help you better understand how to care for, manage, and treat your hair. And that can result in hair that’s healthy and strong.

Read on as we take a closer look at what hair porosity is, how to figure out what type you have, and how best to take care of your hair.

What is Hair Porosity?

In simple terms, hair porosity describes the ability of the hair shaft to absorb and retain moisture. The cuticle, the outermost layer of hair, is made of plates that overlap each other in a structure similar to roof shingles. The porosity of one’s hair affects how well oils and moisture pass in and out of that outermost layer of hair.

Hair porosity is typically divided into three categories:

  • Low Porosity: Cuticles are close together.
  • Medium Porosity: Cuticles are less tightly bound.
  • High Porosity: Cuticles are more widely spread.

If the cuticles are too close together, it’s difficult for water and oils to penetrate the hair. If they are too widely spread, hair has a harder time retaining moisture. While one’s hair porosity is largely due to genetics, harsh styling products and techniques can damage hair over time, causing the cuticles to become raised and open, making it harder for hair to retain moisture.

Testing Hair Porosity

To test your hair porosity, shampoo and rinse your hair to remove any product buildup and allow it to air dry. Fill a clean glass with water and drop a single strand of your hair in. If the strand floats at the top before sinking, you probably have low porosity hair. If it floats in the middle of the glass, you likely have medium (or normal) porosity hair. And if the strand sinks to the bottom quickly, you probably have high porosity hair.

Low Porosity Hair

You may have low porosity hair if hair products “sit” on your hair and don’t absorb easily, it’s hard for water to saturate your hair, and it takes a long time for your hair to dry. Use protein-free conditioners that absorb more easily without causing buildup. Look for shampoos and conditioners with glycerin and honey, and avoid products with oils.

Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair allows moisture to penetrate easily and retains it for a longer period of time. Hair is easy to style, takes color well, and tends to look and feel healthy. It requires the lowest level of maintenance. Use products that are gentle on the hair and scalp and won’t cause damage.

High Porosity Hair

While high porosity hair absorbs moisture easily, it doesn’t retain it for long. Hair breaks easily, is frizzy and dry, and doesn’t take much time to air dry. Choose shampoos and conditioners with ingredients that help moisturize hair, like butters and oils. Wash and rinse hair in lukewarm water instead of hot. Use leave-in conditioners to help hair hold on to moisture, and apply a heat protector before using heat-styling tools.

Know what people with low, medium, and high porosity hair have in common? They can all suffer from hair thinning and loss. If your hair isn’t as thick and full as it once was, or you’re finally fed up with the ever-increasing bald spot, thinning hairline, or widening hair part, it’s time you take charge of your appearance and call DiStefano Hair Restoration Center.