We’re always excited to go on the natural hair and skin journey with you. Would you agree with us if we say knowing something very well helps you understand it better and know how to handle it? Well today, let’s talk about natural hair porosity…the ins and outs.
What is hair porosity?
Did you know cuticles are not only in the nail department, but in the hair department as well? (We’re sure you do). Well, porosity has a lot to do with the hair cuticles (outer layer of the hair) and simply refers to how easily your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture. The nature of these hair layers (that is, how strong and flexible they are) determines how easily your hair takes in all the oils and moisture your glorious crown is often pampered with. Although hair porosity is often described as hereditary, other elements such as chemicals, treatment of your hair and exposure to harsh conditions can affect your hair’s porosity. This porosity could be either low, high or medium.
Hair with low porosity does not absorb moisture very easily, and therefore requires the use of hair products that can help the hair retain moisture, such as coconut oil and shea butter. Hair with low porosity is quite healthy and especially when the hair is dark, has a great sheen. However, it needs a lot of care and attention, as it requires the use of more moisturizers. Products used for low porosity hair are often more effective when they are applied whilst the hair is wet. (Have you read our article on LOC and LCO method yet?) Not taking proper care of hair with low porosity or using the wrong products could end up making the hair stiff and thin, which is a definite no-no for our natural hair. Lighter based products that can be absorbed faster are highly recommended, to prevent your hair from being overly oily.
This level of porosity is a hybrid between low hair porosity and high hair porosity and doesn’t require as much maintenance. Hair with this kind of porosity allows the optimum amount of moisture to be absorbed by the cuticles. Medium porosity is often described as normal and is very easy to style…which is very ideal especially because we love some variety when it comes to our natural hair styles! However, this porosity shouldn’t be taken for granted by excessive use of chemicals, as it could affect the hair’s porosity level.
High hair porosity often comes about not just from genetics but poor treatment of the hair or too much processing. With highly porous hair, the hair’s cuticles rapidly open, making the level of absorption very high. This makes it very easy for the hair to become either tangled or frizz especially when the weather isn’t favourable. Having highly porous hair means taking extra care with your hair even in daily activities such as swimming, as the hair absorbs water much too quickly. Styling hair with high porosity can be quite a task, making it a bit difficult to be versatile with it. If you happen to find yourself in highly humid weather especially, it’s ideal to find ways of protecting your hair, for example, using anti-humectants such as shea butter and olive oil (readily available in our hair care range). These act as sealants for your cuticles, helping to reduce water retention in the process. Leave-in conditioners are also ideal for highly porous hair, because here’s the trick…although hair with high porosity absorbs moisture really quickly, it also loses the moisture just as quickly, hence the frizz! So, layer away with the hair moisturizer, and keep your hair looking healthy!
How can you determine your hair’s level of porosity?
It is vital to have an idea of your hair’s porosity level, so you can treat it right and know what kind of products you can use to protect and sustain your hair. You could simply do this in the comfort of your home by picking some strands of your hair from your favourite hairbrush or comb and leaving them in a bowl of water for a few minutes. These strands sinking is an indicator that your hair is highly porous, whilst its floating shows that your hair porosity level is low. Alternatively, you could simply slip your fingers through your hair (a few strands will do), towards your scalp. If this ride proves to be a bumpy one, it shows that you have high porosity as the bumps indicate that your hair cuticles are lifted. If they aren’t, your fingers won’t encounter many bumps, meaning your hair has low porosity. Hope this didn’t sound too technical! Now that we understand hair porosity more, we can give our hair even better treatment…just the kind of love it deserves.
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