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Hair porosity is a term that’s used to describe how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture and oils. There are many factors that can affect what porosity you have, such as over use of heat treatments, over exposure to natural elements and of course chemical processing. However for most its genetic so you can thank your parents!
If you have low porosity hair (that’s me!), it means the structure of your hair doesn’t easily allow moisture to be absorbed into the hair shaft. The cuticle is tightly bound and tries to reject moisture when wet. This type of hair is also prone to protein build up which can result in straw like, woolly hair (check out my piece on Protein and your hair type for more information on this).
High porosity hair if you haven’t already guessed this is the opposite to low porosity. This cuticle has gaps and holes in which lets in too much moisture into the hair and leaves it prone to frizz and tangling especially in humid weather. Due to how porous this type of hair is, a real effort is needed to ensure further damage isn’t done on a daily basis, even shampooing can lead to more damage due to how much it wants to absorb.
Medium porosity hair has a cuticle that is looser allowing just the right amount of moisture in, so if you fall into this category your one of the lucky ones! However porosity can change over time, if exposed to excess colouring, heat treatments this can result in damage to the cuticle leading to a change in its porosity.
How can you determine what type of porosity you have?
Often referred to as the float test and the easiest way to find out what porosity your dealing with is to take a couple of stands of hair and drop them into a bowl of water and leave for a couple of minutes. When you return to check, if you hair is floating, you have low porosity and if its sunk you have high porosity. If it’s floating somewhere in the middle it’s medium. Its also worth remembering occasionally you can have different types porosity on one head and sometimes even one strand! But you will know (once you have an understanding) what your overall porosity is.
What does it mean when choosing hair products?
Ok, so you have now determined what kind of porosity you have the next step is understanding what it needs and the right products to ensure you’re doing just that.
Loves moisturisers rich in emollients with ingredients such as oils and butters.
However Stay light when applying stylers, liquid gels or foams are great as they don’t sit on the hair weighing it down or leaving is greasy. Ingredients such as
Using heat while applying protein – free treatments or deep conditioners helps to open up the cuticle and let the product penetrate the hair.
Hates to much protein so stay away from daily protein filled products such as leave in’s and stylers that have heavy proteins in
Heavy creams that sit on the hair weighing it down and making it greasy
Loves leave in conditioners, moisturisers and creams the key here is to try and lock in all the moisture you have applied during your wash day routine, filling in the gaps within the cuticle
For summer months or periods of heat exposure use products with anti-humectants in to seal the seal cuticle and prevent it from trying to grab excess moisture from the air
Hates – products containing large amounts of Glycerin
Over use of chemical processing, now any type of hair is not a fan of this, however due to how open the cuticle is, this hair sucks up anything that’s put on it. Ask your stylist to add in a bonding treatment like Olapex to your colour to help maintain the structure of the hair and prevent less damage
Loves – deep conditioning treatments with protein added in (this should be done occasionally, once a month for example not weekly)
Hates – protein in every day products
A easy (funny) way to remember porosity!
Low – Door closed not interested in letting anyone in
High – Door wide open exited to let anyone in
Medium – door ajar will assess if your worth allowing in
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