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How to Deal with High Porosity Hair

• Oct 22, 2011

Natural Hair, Natural Hair Pictures, Natural Hair Styles
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By Cipriana of Urbanbushbabes.com

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 KisforKinky.com. 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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27 Comments on "How to Deal with High Porosity Hair"

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nelle
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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

Jahtik54
Guest

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

Cipriana
Guest

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

Bella
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
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[…] Hair that isn’t porous has a harder time allowing product into through the cuticles because they lay flat as opposed to being raised. Product applied to non-porous hair will sit on the outside of the strand, leading to buildup. Try steaming your hair (in the shower of with a hair steamer) before applying moisturizing and conditioning products. The steam will help lift the cuticles, allowing moisturizing product to get inside. Click here to determine your hair’s porosity level. […]

Halisi
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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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[…] heat usage, and gentler handling. (For more details on these steps, read this earlier BGLH post on “How to Deal with High […]

trackback

[…] Hair that isn’t porous has a harder time allowing product into through the cuticles because they lay flat as opposed to being raised. Product applied to non-porous hair will sit on the outside of the strand, leading to buildup. Try steaming your hair (in the shower or with a hair steamer) before applying moisturizing and conditioning products. The steam will help lift the cuticles, allowing moisturizing product to get inside. Click here to determine your hair’s porosity level. […]

Nikki
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest

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

Ify
Guest

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

Ki
Guest

I hate the negative undertones of this article. Be happy with what grows out of your head and stop complaining. Learning how to manage your hair is apart of getting to know yourself. I have highly porous hair and I manage just fine. It ain’t that bad, sheesh

hshsh
Guest

you legit just got on my nerves so bad. im not complaining im trying to figure out how to handle it.

Tyiesha
Guest

Lol right! She really annoyed me with that comment.

ThinkDeep7
Guest

I think for those of us with high porosity should use more protein and keep a healthy balance of mositure/protein. And its also real important not to over condition or moisturize. Seems like its all about balance; and sealing shaft wont hurt either.

OBJECTIVELYyours
Guest
Either I did the test wrong or I inherited some weird hair! According to the test, I should have high porosity hair, however, some of my hair strands took a minute to sink while the others sunked instantly. Overall, my hair takes a while to dry which is the total opposite of high porosity. Therefore, I’m not so certain about how accurate this test is, but I know my edges/napes are high porosity because they dry faster than the rest of my hair, however, they don’t break easily while dry, lol. It may be because they don’t clump together like… Read more »

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