When searching for the best hair product, there are often many questions you are asked that you don’t even know the answer too. What is your hair type or, my favorite, what is your hair porosity?
Porosity is the measure of how well your hair can absorb water and moisture. Porosity is often genetic but can also be affected by the overuse of heat and chemical processing (color, relaxers, texturizers, etc.)
When determining your hair porosity, you must use the cuticle of the hair (the flexible outer hair layer) because its helps to see how easily moisture and oil pass in and out of your hair. There are 2 tests to determine porosity: The Float Test and the Slip and Slide Test.
The Float Test
Take a strand of your hair and drop it in a bowl of water. Allow the strand to sit in the water for 2-4 minutes.
- If the strand floats, you have LOW POROSITY HAIR
- If the strand sinks, you have HIGH POROSITY HAIR
Slip and Slide Test
Take a strand hair and slide your fingers up (toward the scalp)
- If you feel bumps along the way, you have HIGH POROSITY
- If your fingers, glide smoothly, you have LOW POROSITY
You now have more information on porosity and the ways to figure out your porosity. But you’re wondering what next? Depending on your porosity, it will determine type of products better suited for retaining moisture.
If you have low porosity hair, your cuticles are tightly bound and lay flat, your hair often has a natural shine. The tightly bound cuticles make your hair repel moisture when wet and resist the penetration of chemicals. Low porosity hair also is prone to build up when using protein rich conditioners. The build – up can make your hair feel stiff and straw like.
With low porosity hair, you should use protein free conditioners and moisturizers that have emollients (oils that soften your hair and prevent water loss).
Some examples of emollients are:
- Chia seed oil
- Almond oil
- Cocoa butter
You should also look for products that have humectants, ingredients that hold moisture. Some examples of Humectants are:
- Baobab butter
- Aloe Vera
The rule of thumb for low porosity hair is to use products that are light that won’t just sit on top of your hair but penetrate the strand.
If you have high porosity hair, your hair has gaps and holes in the cuticle which causes too much moisture into your hair. The excess moisture makes your hair prone to tangling when the weather is humid. Just as fast as highly porous hair gains moisture, it loses it as well. High Porosity hair is normally caused by chemical processing or environmental damage (heavy sun and temperature changes). Due to the climate being a factor for high porosity, when it is warmer outside your hair treatment can change.
In humid weather, it is best to use anti-humectants because they help to seal your cuticles and prevent the absorbance of excess moisture in the air. Some examples of anti-humectants are:
- Shea butter
- Avocado oil
When treating your high porosity hair protein treatments will help you regain hair strength. You should also deep condition after every wash and add heat to seal the moisture in. Apple cider vinegar or Aloe Vera can be used to help adjust the pH of your hair and flatten your hair cuticle, as well as, seal in moisture.
The rule of thumb for high porosity hair is to use heavier ingredients, like shea butter and castor oil, will increase the seal of moisture.