Natural Hair

How to Determine Your Hair Porosity the Right Way

October 26, 2018
A black woman putting natural hair into a high puff

Learning about the porosity of my natural hair was one topic I didn’t want to research because it seemed confusing. However, after finding out my porosity, I see why knowing this information is important for your journey!

What is natural hair porosity?

Your natural hair’s porosity refers to its ability to absorb and retain moisture. It’s broken down into three different categories:

  • Low Porosity
  • Normal Porosity
  • High Porosity

Knowing the porosity of your natural hair will help you learn how to properly care for it and choose quality products. You want to choose products that’ll keep your hair moisturized and healthy.

How do I find out my porosity?

If you’ve researched this topic, then you probably heard about the ‘Float Test’. After looking up more information, I found out this test isn’t accurate for determining your porosity. It’s best to pay attention to the characteristics of your hair and how it behaves in certain situations.

Here are some characteristics of each porosity, let’s see if you can find out which category you fall in!

Low Porosity Characteristics

Low porosity hair has tightly sealed cuticles which makes it difficult for water to enter the hair shaft. If you notice your hair takes a while to get saturated under running water and it beads on top of your hair, those are signs you have low porosity.

You may also notice that products sit on top of your hair instead of penetrating your strands. After you style your hair, it can also take forever to dry! Although this can become frustrating, there are ways you can effectively care for low porosity hair:

  • Steam your hair or add heat while deep conditioning. This will open up your cuticles which will allow the product to effectively penetrate the hair shaft.
  • Avoid using silicones, heavy butter, and thick oils. Low porosity hair is prone to build-up, so using these will cause more. Some light oils you can use are Grapeseed + Avocado.
  • Clarify your hair frequently. This will help you remove product build-up and give your curls a fresh start each month.

Related Post: How to Start Effectively Caring for Low Porosity Hair

High Porosity Characteristics

High porosity hair has cuticles that are wide open which means your hair absorbs moisture quickly, however, it can lose moisture just as fast. I have high porosity hair and it can become difficult to find ways to retain moisture.

If you have high porosity hair, you’ll notice that your hair gets saturated quickly under running water and your styles dry fast. Your hair may also tend to look dry and you’ll notice that your hair tangles easily. Since the cuticles are wide open, it’s easy for your curls to become tangled, which can be a pain to deal with at times!

Here are some ways you can care for high porosity hair:

  • Use heavier butter + oils as sealants. Heavy products will seal in moisture and you’ll be able to retain it longer. Some good ones to use are Shea Butter and Castor Oil.
  • Do protein treatments at least once a month or more often. High porosity hair has gaps in the hair shaft. Using protein will help temporarily fill those holes and strengthen the hair.
  • Aloe Vera and Apple Cider Vinegar are great products to use for high porosity hair. They balance the pH of your hair and flatten your cuticles. This will ensure moisture is sealed into your hair and limit tangles.

Related Post: 6 Ways to Care for High Porosity Hair

Normal Porosity Characteristics

If you have normal porosity, this means your hair’s cuticles are raised just enough to readily absorb moisture and retain it. Normal porosity hair tends to retain moisture and shine better than low or high porosity.

Make sure you create a healthy hair regimen and remain consistent with cleansing, deep conditioning, moisturizing, and sealing moisture into your hair. Keep a good moisture-protein balance by alternating between moisturizing and protein treatments each month.

The Importance of Porosity

Learning your porosity will help you determine what type of products to choose. Reading the ingredient labels and ensuring the consistency of your products will work for your hair will save you time and money. It’ll take trial and error to find what works, however, you’ll at least know what to look out for if you know your porosity.

Another benefit is you’ll learn how to properly take care of your hair. When you know your porosity, you can moisturize your hair and retain it with the correct products and techniques. Learning how to effectively moisturize your hair will help you maintain healthy, manageable curls.

Knowing your true porosity will make your natural hair journey easier since you’ll know how to take care of your hair.

I found my porosity by paying attention to the characteristics of my hair and comparing the signs of each one. My hair is easily saturated under running water, I’m able to use protein treatments frequently, my hair loves heavy butter and oils, and my styles dry quickly.

Each porosity has its pros and cons, however, learning how to manage it will help you be successful on your healthy hair journey.

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  • Reply Tess Petersen November 20, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I have some issues getting to know what kind of porosity I have. It gets dump easily but takes forever to dry, oils are not enough to get rid if the frizziness but when I use heavy products volume says buh-bye. I am a 2c-3a and have coloured hair and ten years of heat damage… The only thing I know for sure is my hair really loves cold water. Any help?

    • Reply Kimberly Ellis April 29, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      Hi! I have the exact same issue: hair gets damp easily, but takes forever to dry; frizz occurs fairly easilt, but heavy products flatten. Also have 2C/3A hair. I would love suggestions, too. Thanks

    • Reply Kimberly Ellis April 29, 2020 at 6:48 pm

      Wow! You just described my hair, too. In have the exact same issues, especially the easily damp hair that takes forever to dry. I get frizz without products, but get weighed down with heavy products. I also have 2C/3A hair. I would love ideas, too.

    • Reply Dee Ossy September 18, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      OMG other people who have my same problem. My hair also gets wet quickly but literally take several hours to dry. I just assumed I was low porosity.

      • Reply Madisen September 19, 2020 at 1:14 am

        Yeah it’s possible that you could have both low + high porosity. We have many different textures and one blogger that I follow has high porosity hair in the back and low porosity in the front. It can get a little confusing lol but looking out for these characteristics and how your hair behaves will help you figure it out!

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