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Super Simple Way To Figure Out Your Hair Porosity

What even is Hair Porosity? I briefly described it as how “thirsty” your hair is in my “Differences Between Hair Masks and Conditioners” post.

Hair Porosity can be visualised on a scale from Low to High.

1) What Is High Porosity?

High Porosity Hair has lifted cuticles, which causes moisture to be as easily absorbed as it is lost. Due to this, high porosity hair can get dry very quickly.

Factors that Lift The Hair Cuticles:

  • Heat (not bad for all porosities)
  • Water (only slightly, not a bad thing you’ll see why…)
  • Chemicals (eg. Relaxers, colour treatments)

The lifted cuticles are a consequence of damage such as; heat damage, colour treated hair damage and relaxers. This is why high porosity hair may be rough and literally snaps off at times.


Aim: To Close The Hair Cuticles

  1. One solution is Protein Hair treatments/ Protein hair masks. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, our hair is made up of keratin (a protein.) This protein rebuilds itself when hair is damaged. Therefore, protein treatments just add protein to the hair to help it rebuild itself.

As heat and other chemicals tend to gravely damage the hair over-time using protein based hair masks is a good long-term solution. You can make your own protein mask DIY style or buy it from a reliable source. I recommend the GreenBeauty Protein Treament!

2. Using Products of acidic pHs, like Apple Cider Vinegar rinses (ACVs)You may have frowned at the word ‘acidic’ but our hair, more specifically our sebum, is acidic! It has a pH of around 3-5.

The term pH just means ‘the potential of hydrogen.’ The more hydrogen ions a substance ha,s the more acidic it is and the lower on the scale it is.

So sebum has a pH ranging from 3-5, therefore, it is acidic. If an alkali substance is applied onto the hair then the hair cuticles will lift, this is what happens when relaxers are applied.

How Does pH Affect The Hair Cuticles:

Relaxers have a pH of around 13 so they dramatically lift your hair cuticles. Lifted cuticles make resulta in your hair losing moisture and becoming dry.

Over time, the effect of using relaxers is that the cuticles will just stay open and wont close anymore so your hair will practically be numb to moisture… It will be like having dead ends but all over your head!

Here is a Ph scale to help illustrate the next points…

When an acid and an alkali mix they are involved in a chemical reaction called neutralisation. This reaction results in a substance that has a pH in between those two starting reactants. As well as Carbon dioxide and water.

For example, If a substance with a pH of 3 and another substance of a pH of 9 mix they will react and the product will theoretically have a pH of 6. Bang in the middle!

Q. Why Does my Hair Get More Moist Under Water?

Well, water has a pH of 7 which is ‘neutral.’ Since your hair is more acidic then this and substances with a more alkali pH lift hair cuticles that’s what water does. But only slightly.

For example, water lifts your hair cuticles slightly and allows you to shampoo and cleanse out excess oils out! Consequently, it is important to at least condition your hair after shampooing to give your hair cuticles some moisture back.

Allow the conditioner to sit for 5-10 minutes so moisture can re-penetrate your hair cuticles. Low Porosity hair should use a deep conditioner instead at this stage so the moisture has a better chance at penetrating.

But back to High Porosity…

You may have seen people saying that your final rinse should be done with cold water. This is done to close the hair cuticles.

Yes water opens them up slightly but HOT water will open them up even more as heat is one of the factors we highlighted. So using cold water to rinse your hair one last time will help close them back up and seal in some moisture 😉

Q. How often should I do a Protein Treatment?

They can be done every 4-6weeks as adding too much protein to your hair/ too regularly can lead to stiffness and rigidity. This is because the protein binds and coats the hair strands to retain the moisture but if you have more protein than moisture then your hair will lose its elasticity due to the imbalance.

A simple way to distinguish between protein and moisture is that protein strengthens the hair, making it stronger. Whereas moisture gives the hair more elasticity. If you’re unsure about how to differentiate moisture and protein this blog post will help you out and some DIYs are also included depending on your hair porosity.

2) Medium Porosity

This section of the scale can still have its moments of drama like frizzing or dryness. But Medium Porosity hair is manageable and does not require much except for protein and moisture to be balanced. And again, it does not need much from you to do this!

Amazing right?

Your hair care routine and what you apply on your hair can definitely change your porosity over time so just be regular and listen to your hair’s needs.

3)Low Porosity

The cuticles of low porosity are closed which is why moisture has trouble finding its way in, but once it does it ain’t going anywhere for a while!

For Length Retention and Moisture Absorption Low Porosity hair will benefit from:

  • stretching techniques such as blow-drying. As this allows both the cuticles to lift slightly and prevents the tangling of hair strands.
  • Heat like the hooded drier in the deep conditioning step or
  • Using warm water in your styling spray bottle
  • Hot oil Treatments

Water in the form of steam or warm water can help lift the cuticles of low porosity hair.

For example, this is can be done during deep conditioning. It is recommended for low porosity hair girls to sit under a hooded drier for about 30 minutes before rinsing the deep conditioner out and resuming your hair wash routine.

As the hair cuticles have a hard time opening up, if you have low porosity hair you could experience build-up. Imagine an increasing queue of people waiting at a locked door, it’s just like the relationship between low porosity hair and moisture.

To get rid of the build-up, clarifying (shampooing) is important for low-porosity hair. Shampoo at least once a week because build-up inhibits hair growth and we don’t want any of that here. Uh uh…

How Can I Test What Hair Porosity I Have?

Overall, remember that your hair will give you a lot of answers, it knows what it needs so listen it and do what feels right for your hair!

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