How to Deal with High Porosity Hair

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By Cipriana of

Natural hair can be a challenge to deal with (depending on thickness, length and the time you have available), but add high porosity levels to the mix and you have a whole new game. Stay with me as I break down the three hair porosity levels and offer three helpful tips that will ensure some successful results in maintaining your hair!

Porosity simply refers to the condition of the cuticle layer. There are three levels of porosity… low, normal and high.

Low porosity hair is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is very compact and does not allow moisture to easily enter or leave. The overlapping scales (in the photo above) make up the outer layer of the strand, with the cortex layer inside. Hair with a low porosity level is more resistant to chemicals and tends to reject product rather than absorb it. This explains why some individuals have to wash their hair more frequently because they experience much more buildup from products that will just sit on top of the strands rather than being absorbed by it.

Normal porosity hair permits moisture to pass through the shaft into the cortex as necessary, but not too much.

Now High porosity strands typically results from irreparable damage to the cuticles caused by chemicals, heat and harsh treatment. The damage creates holes and spaces along the hair shaft. High porosity strands are capable of soaking up drastically higher amounts of water. This can spell disaster for the strands when wet because the weight of the water absorbed by the hair causes it to lose elasticity which leads to breakage.

 Strand Water Glass Test

To find out the porosity of hair I found a helpful test on You take a strand of your hair (make sure your hair is clean of any product to ensure accurate results) and place it in a glass full of water (cold water is fine). Normal to low porosity strands will float, but if your hair is of high porosity it will sink to the bottom of the glass from increasing its weight and becoming too heavy to float. (Leave the strand in for about 5-8 minutes to see if it’s floating or not.)

If you test your hair for the first time and find out your strands are high porosity, fear not. Here are three tips to help you deal with high porosity strands.

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  • nelle

    than you thank you thank you, everytime someone talked about the porosity of their hair, I gave the blank stare b/c I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about and I wasn’t sure if they fully knew either.

  • jazzy jaz

    I learned that I have high porosity hair and so, I have increased my protein tx, how often I moisturize(every other day) & I do a two step sealing the moisture process…all worth it bc I have already seen improvement in my hair.

  • Chyscurlz

    Yup, I’m definitely high porosity just based on how quick my hair gets wet and then dry minutes later. But I will do the strand test for good measure.

  • ttemfash

    Informative post. I have implemented dry/damp detangling, finger combing,washing in sections, regular cassia and light protein treatments with great result. My fine, high porosity,medium density is finally retaining length.

  • Iraolyn

    Great information. This is a blessing to know! My hair is like this and Juicy Leave In Conditioner by Naturalista Cosmetics really does the trick for keeping my hair moist and strong.

  • Nelly

    Just did the test, and the verdict is my hair is highly porous! Thanks for some useful steps on what to do next…

  • Jahtik54

    Just did the test – my hair sank to the bottom in less than a minute. Thanks for the article! This helps.

  • Cipriana

    Thank you so much everyone. I am so glad you found this article so informative and useful :DDD

  • Bella

    My hair started sinking is less than 30 seconds of being in the water. I’ve been considering cutting it all off because I’ve so desperate and nothing seems to help. At least now I know specifically why I’m cutting it all off.

  • Martini

    I did the test and my hair floated but it’s always dry. Since my hair is low porosity how do I keep it moiturized?

  • Layah

    Just did the test & my hair floats but it is STILL really prone to dryness so I moisture & seal ALL the time, deep condition & do the baggy method for extra moisture .. that helps.

    • Em

      I have low porosity hair too. I finally decided to detox my hair (I used Terressentials Mud Wash) & now I put very little product in my hair so that its easier to get moisture in. Because with low porosity, if I seal(with alot of product), then I cant add any extra water to my hair for the entire week till I wash it, since my hair absorbs very little product. So far, my new regimen seams to be working well. i use 30% of the amount of product I used to use before cleansing my hair and my hair is much better moisturized.
      Another thing that really helps me in NYC winter.. is a humidifier. When the air in my apt is moist, I dont have much problems with dry skin or hair.

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  • Halisi

    So if your hair floats, you have either low or normal porosity. But how are you able to tell which is which? You said that people with low porosity hair need to wash their “more frequently” due to product buildup. More frequently than what? Are there other signs that people can use to determine their porosity?

  • Nina Sowah

    So how would you recommend blow drying a straightening highly porous hair? Whenever I blow dried mine myself it always felt very dry afterwards, and I didn’t want to use grease because apparently it’s not good to flat iron with grease. Should I use like a heat protecting straightening grease?

  • Tiesha Starr

    OMG…This article is definitely what I needed to read. My hair soaks up as soon as I add water on it. So basically once my hair dries, I would need to detangle it and add my essential oils right?

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  • Nikki

    I’m so frustrated with my high porosity hair. I have SO many holes up my hair strands. I thought maybe I was washing too much so I cut back to one time per month and ONLY finger detangle.

  • Brenda

    Some of us just have naturally porous hair. Mine is curly and fine and porous all at the same time my whole life. To compound my troubles my hair doesn’t have the same level of curl throughout. I am 43 and tried everything on the market. I love Keratin, but I’m allergic. About the only thing that helps my natural curl is Olive Oil. It adds weight and manageability.

  • Ella

    My hairs all weird! It half sinks, half floats! I’m debating whether I chop it off or not…

    • Ify

      No dot chop it all of that means u have normal porosity hair which is fine