By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Porosity. What is it? It is a measure of how easily water and other substances can enter and exit the hair strand. Depending on the condition of the hair’s cuticle layers, the porosity can rank from low (i.e., the result of flat, tightly bound cuticles) to high (i.e., the result of gaps or lifted cuticles). Highly porous hair is more susceptible to moisture loss. On the other hand, low porosity hair is more resistant to moisture loss … and also more resistant to moisture uptake. If you have low porosity hair, check out these techniques for getting moisture into your strands:
1. Steam your hair
Some naturals with low porosity strands benefit from this routine. The process is fairly simple and involves sitting under a hair steamer for 15-30 minutes. Even if you do not own a steamer, you can still perform this step by being innovative (e.g., soak a towel in warm/hot water, wring slightly, wrap around your hair, then cover with a large plastic bag, and sit under a hooded dryer). The purpose of this step is to lift the cuticle layers and infuse the hair strand with moisture.
2. Baggy your hair
This process involves applying a moisturizer to your hair, then covering with a plastic cap/bag until water vapor builds up in the cap/bag. Some naturals prefer to do this process overnight while sleeping or during the day with a beanie or head wrap to disguise the plastic cap/bag. Either way, the purpose of this method is to create a humid environment in which the hair has no choice but to absorb some moisture.
3. Lather twice while washing
Some of us prefer to lather once so as to not strip our strands of its natural oils, but those with low porosity hair may benefit from lathering twice. Why? Well, lathering twice can better remove product buildup and improve moisture uptake by the hair. Additionally, some naturals who have low porosity claim to benefit from mixing a little baking soda with their shampoo. (Take caution with doing this latter step as baking soda may or may not be harsh depending on your hair.)
4. Use a curl activator
Do you remember the “jheri curl” or “leisure curl”? Curl activators were used to replenish and retain moisture to these chemically treated looks in order to prevent dryness and breakage. Though naturals obviously do not have these chemical treatments, many of those with low porosity have found the use of curl activators to be beneficial in moisturizing their strands.
5. Apply your moisturizer to damp not wet hair
Many naturals who have low porosity find that applying moisturizers (and even sealants) to soaking wet hair is not as effective as doing so to damp hair. This is probably because as the hair dries, water droplets on and in the strand have evaporated a bit leaving room for your moisturizer to penetrate (and your sealant to coat your cuticle layers). Obviously, you do not want to wait until your hair is completely dry; apply these products when your hair is damp.
Do you have low porosity? Have you tried any of these methods?