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What is Hair Porosity & Why Is It Important?

Our hair is a precious part of our identity. And we can all agree that most of us yearn for full, bouncy, shiny, and healthy hair. Sometimes we engage in several different hair care routines but don’t always get the results we want.

That may have something to do with our hair porosity. Addressing our hair’s ability to take on certain products and adapt to a routine is very important. Different types of hair porosity directly affect our hair health. 

That's why understanding the meaning of hair porosity meaning and your own porosity health is essential. Let’s take a look!

What is Hair Porosity

What is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity is our hair's ability to retain moisture. It also includes our hair’s ability to retain vitamins and essential nutrients from different substances found in our favorite hair care products. Hair porosity is the result of our hair cuticle health. 

Our hair cuticle is the outermost layer of our hair strands. This outer layer directly impacts how well it protects and nourishes the inner layer of our hair. When we zoom in close to our cuticle, it looks like overlapping scales that protect that inner layer. 

Our hair cuticles can have different levels of health. The flatter the scales lie, the smoother and more hydrated our hair is. This gives beautiful and shiny locks. When the scales are roughed up, it allows the inner layer to lose moisture and creates a dull look.

What Causes High or Low Porosity Hair?

So, what determines whether you have high or low hair porosity? Here are the most common reasons. 

  • Genetics is one of the top factors in hair porosity. You can inherit low, medium, or high hair porosity from your parents and genetic DNA, just like we can inherit thick, thin, curly, or straight hair. 
  • Damaging the hair cuticle leads to a higher porosity. This can happen in various ways, such as excessive heat, chemicals, unhealthy hair treatments, and so on. 
  • Environmental factors, such as excessive sun, wind, and pollution, is another way that the hair cuticle can be damaged, leading to higher porosity. 
  • Like most parts of our bodies, as we age, our hair cuticle can lose some of its strength.  Our hair naturally has wear and tear. 
  • Heat and chemicals aren’t the only things to watch out for. Using our hairbrushes, combs, or other hair tools too frequently can cause friction and damage the hair strands. 
  • Swimming in pools that have chlorine leads to harsh chemicals that can break down our hair’s protective barriers. 

What is Hair Porosity & Why Is It Important?

How Hair Porosity Influences Hydration and Moisture Retention

What’s confusing about hair porosity is that loose scales allow for a lot of moisture in, but it goes out just as quickly. This is a result of high hair porosity. And that’s why high hair porosity is less optimal even though we are absorbing more moisture. 

What we really hope for is tighter scales, but not so tight that nutrients can’t penetrate. This is called medium hair porosity. 

The tighter the scales, the stronger the protective barrier. The looser and farther apart the scales are, the less moisture and nutrient retention. When the scales are too loose or tight, it ultimately leads to undernourished hair. 

Influence of Hair Porosity on Hair Product Absorption

Understanding your hair porosity will help you choose better products suited to your hair needs. The influence comes from the fact that your hair porosity works better with certain products that are more or less humectant. Humectants have an easier time retaining moisture because they help create additional barriers to lock in moisture. 

Types of Hair Porosity

Let’s define and take a closer look at the different types of hair porosity since there are varying levels. 

Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity hair means that your cuticles or hair scales are tightly wound together. They are overlapping and potentially too tight, not allowing moisture or nutrients in.  

Common characteristics: 

  • Products tend to sit on your head rather than do their job
  • Your hair doesn’t saturate from water quickly. 
  • Your hair takes a longer time to air dry. 

Medium Porosity Hair

As you might guess, medium hair porosity falls in between both extremes. This is the optimal place to be. The hair cuticles are close enough but not so close that they don’t let any moisture in. 

Common characteristics: 

  • Your hair is easy to style and holds the style well
  • It is not hard to color your hair
  • Your hair is shiny and glossy but not greasy
  • Your hair doesn’t take long to air dry

High Porosity Hair

High hair porosity means our hair cuticles are widely spread, allowing a lot of moisture in. But this also means it allows a lot of moisture out and leads to dull hair that is undernourished. 

Common characteristics:

  • Your hair quickly absorbs product and water
  • You have a lot of hair breakage
  • Your hair is dry and frizzy
  • Your hair dries easily

What is Hair Porosity & Why Is It Important?

How to Determine Hair Porosity

There are a few different ways that we can test our hair porosity so that we can adequately address our hair needs. The quicker we understand, the faster we can feed our hair the right products. 

The best approach to testing your hair is to use a combination of tests to confirm results. For instance, the Slip ‘n’ Slide test should be followed by another hair porosity test to confirm results. 

Water Test

One of the most popular tests is the water test. Take a clean and unconditioned hair strand and place it in a glass of water that is at room temperature. If the hair sinks to the bottom, then it falls into the high porosity. 

If the strand of hair floats at the top of the water, then you have low-porosity hair. The optimal result is to have the strand of hair float in the middle of the glass halfway between the bottom and the top. 

Slip 'n' Slide Test

The Slip ‘n’ Slide test is a little more subjective. To complete the test take a single strand of hair and hold it straight out. With your other hand, run the strand between your thumb and pointer finger. Move up the strand from the bottom to the root. If you feel it is bumpy, you have high porosity because you feel the raised scales. If you feel it is smooth, you have low porosity. 

Professional Assessment

The best way to see where your hair falls is through a professional assessment. With there being varying levels of hair health and porosity, you can have a much closer look at where your hair stands. Hair professionals know exactly what to look for and how to test our hair to determine how well it’s absorbing nutrients as well as retaining them. 

What is Hair Porosity & Why Is It Important?

How to Care for Low-Porosity Hair

  • Focus on conditioners that are protein-free. The reason is that conditioners with protein tend to be more absorbent. In the case of low-porosity hair, a conditioner that is packed with protein will cause extra build-up on hair instead of absorbing into your hair. 
  • Conditioner should be applied to hair that is well-saturated and wet. This will allow for better absorption. 
  • Honey should be one of the top ingredients on your list. Honey is a natural humectant with multiple benefits for hydrating and repairing low-porosity hair
  • Using heat indirectly to your hair will help low-porosity hair absorb the products like conditioners and hair masks. Try applying a moisturizing product before you work out to maximize absorption. 

How to Care for Medium Porosity Hair

Medium hair porosity is the goal, but you must take steps to maintain it. Constantly evaluating your hair needs is important. To stay in this range, you want to stay away from harsh chemicals, which can damage the hair and lead to low porosity. 

  • Medium porosity hair benefits from regular and consistent moisture. Incorporating leave-in conditioners and deep-conditioning hair masks into your routine is key to maintaining the health of your hair.
  • Although medium porosity hair can handle some heat, try to minimize the use of heat tools whenever possible. When you do use heat, apply a heat protectant spray to reduce damage.
  • Choose a sulfate-free shampoo and avoid hair products that harsh chemicals, which can strip your hair of its natural oils.

How to Care for High Porosity Hair

  • Using quality oils is key for high-porosity hair. Our Honey-Infused Hair Oil is ideal for strengthening high-porosity hair and enhancing its natural shine
  • Always use heat-protectant products and avoid hot tools as much as you can. Hair breakage is a top concern for high-porosity hair, and heat is your enemy. 
  • Nobody likes a cold shower, but you should opt for lukewarm water instead of hot. This will help to reduce dryness and minimize breakage.

Can Hair Porosity Change and How Can I Improve It?

By paying close attention to your hair porosity and how it changes over time, we can continually improve it. While genetics certainly play a part, we have control over how we treat our hair. By implementing the steps above, once we determine where our hair falls, we can seek to improve the condition. 

This is why it’s important to emphasize high-quality products that meet your hair needs. Products that are overloaded with chemicals or harmful ingredients can make you feel like nothing is working. Just know that it may not be you! Or your hair!

What is Hair Porosity & Why Is It Important?

Taking It One Step At a Time

Understanding hair porosity is a crucial step toward achieving luscious and healthy locks. By identifying your hair’s porosity, you can tailor your hair care routine to meet its unique needs. Moisture retention is key, and finding the right products can make all the difference!

Gisou Honey Infused Hair Care harnesses the natural power of honey to nourish and revitalize your tresses from root to tip. Whether you’re seeking a gentle shampoo or deeply hydrating hair oil, Gisou’s honey-infused hair care is ideal for all hair types! 

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