What is porosity?
There is quite a bit of talk in the natural hair community about “hair porosity.” But, what does this mean and how does it affect your hair care ritual? To fully understand this term, let’s take a look at the definition of the root word for porosity: “porous.”
po·rous | \ ˈpȯr-əs \
1: possessing or full of pores
2: permeable to fluids
3: capable of being penetrated
What does this mean for my hair?
Given these definitions, hair’s porosity level refers to the amount of pores, or openings, the hair’s cuticle (outer layer) contains, and how capable it is of being penetrated by moisture. The more porous the hair, the more moisture it will be able to absorb. This is why low-porosity hair tends to get weighed down by moisture-rich products, and high-porosity hair soaks them right up.
Hair porosity is typically divided into 3 categories: low-porosity, medium-porosity, and high-porosity. There are different factors that can determine hair porosity; some people are born with more porous hair, and some develop highly porous hair through heavy manipulation, heat damage, or chemical processes such as perms, relaxers, or color treatments.
Why does hair porosity matter?
Knowing your hair’s porosity level will help you determine the best products to use to keep your hair healthy and hydrated.
Low-porosity hair tends to repel moisture, which is why it does well with humectants, which draw moisture into the hair. Someone with low-porosity hair would benefit from lightweight, water-based products like leave-in conditioners and hair milks, such as Omiaje Jasmine & Bamboo Curl Elixir. If you have low porosity hair, stick to products with lightweight oils to prevent build-up.
Oils for low porosity hair:
- Apricot kernel oil
- Sunflower oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Argan oil
If you have medium-porosity hair, (somewhere in between low and high porosity) the good news is that your hair is probably lower maintenance, and you have many options when it comes to hair products. Your hair journey can revolve more around experimentation rather than sticking to a strict product regimen.
Universal/medium-porosity hair oils:
- Babassu oil
- Avocado oil
- Jojoba oil
- Mango butter
People with high-porosity hair may want to use thicker, more moisture-rich styling products and deep conditioners, like Omiaje Marshmallow & Babassu Whipped Curl Creme and Moisture Masque. High-porosity hair usually reacts well to products with heavier oils and butters that will help seal in moisture.
Oils and butters for high-porosity hair:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Shea butter
- Cocoa butter
How to test hair porosity:
The Float Test: Take a couple of strands of clean, shed hair and drop them into a glass of water. Let them sit for a few minutes. If your hair sinks immediately, it is high-porosity. If it floats, it is low-porosity. If it sinks after about 4 minutes, or sits somewhere in the middle of the glass, it is medium porosity.
The Slide Test: Take a strand of hair on your head and slide your fingers up the shaft, towards your scalp. If you feel lots of little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and your hair is high-porosity. If your fingers slip smoothly, then you have low-porosity hair. If you feel a small amount of bumps, your hair is probably medium-porosity.
The Spray Bottle Test: Take a small section of your hair and mist it with a spray bottle. If the water sits on top of your hair and beads up on your hair, it is low porosity. If it absorbs quickly, your hair is high porosity. If the water sit on your hair for a couple minutes before absorbing in, you have medium porosity hair.
We hope this information helps you in your search for the most suitable hair regimen! Our favorite (and most fun) method for determining the best products and hair care ritual will always be trial and experimentation!