How to Test Your Hair Porosity at Home

The relevance of hair porosity has been discussed extensively, and the amount of information available might be daunting. The definition of the term “hair porosity,” if it warrants concern, and how to find out your hair porosity will all be clarified in this article.

Hair Porosity: What Is It?

Your hair’s capacity to retain and absorb moisture is known as hair porosity. The right strategy for managing your hair can be determined by knowing your hair’s porosity. Genetics can affect porosity, but so can heat damage, chemical processing, sun exposure and pollution exposure, over-shampooing, and physical manipulation—frequent brushing and combing can make hair more porous.

Determining hair porosity is important, but there are divergent views on whether or not it is a cause for concern. The cuticle, a thick layer of protective tissue covering the hair fibers, comprises six to eight layers of flat, overlapping cell-like structures. The proteins and lipids that make up this outer layer.

The cuticle’s job is to protect the cortex by absorbing water so that the cortex can use what it needs and let out what it doesn’t. The cortex appears to be spongy. Porosity is the rate at which the cuticle allows moisture; the more damage there is to the cuticle, the more porous the hair will be. 

Virgin human hair has smooth, unbroken scale edges at the proximal or distal end, close to the scalp; broken scale edges can usually be observed a few centimeters away from the scalp.

Types of Hair Porosity

Test for Hair Porosity
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These shingle-like cuticles’ degree of openness or closure determines the different forms of hair porosity. Typically, three levels of hair porosity are distinguished: low, normal, and medium.

Low Porosity Hair

low Hair Porosity
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The cuticle of low porosity hair sits flat, preventing moisture from being easily absorbed and enhancing moisture retention. If your hair shines well, it is not porous; low porosity hair is considered healthy because the cuticles are intact and lay flat.

If you limit your exposure to the sun, over-manipulate your hair—that is, brush and comb it excessively—and avoid chemical processing, your hair is probably not porous.

You may feel that your hair doesn’t appear healthy after applying conditioner and other style products, but that isn’t the case! Since the hair doesn’t lose a lot of water in the first place and the body can create the nutrients the hair needs, these hair products, such as conditioners, wouldn’t significantly impact.

Characteristics of Hair with Low Porosity

What are the characteristics of a hair with low porosity? Below are a few of them.

  • Water and products sit on the hair since it takes a while to absorb moisture.
  • Product buildup is prone to occur on hair.
  • It does not respond well to permanent waving and is resistant to chemical straightening and hair dye.
  • The hair could need a few minutes to become soaked before a wash, prolonging wash time.
  • It takes a very long time to dry after you’ve managed to get it wet.
  • Oils and butter-based products keep your hair looking greasy.

Normal Porosity Hair

Normal Hair Porosity
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The cuticle is gently elevated and can absorb the moisture required to thrive in hair with a medium porosity. If you’ve exposed your hair to some heat, some chemical processing, sun, or chlorinated water, you can have hair with a normal porosity.

Normal porous hair appears to fall between low and high porosity in the range. It retains moisture well, much as low porosity, yet it doesn’t get greasy or heavy after using various hair care products.

Normal porosity hair can sometimes become frizzy looking, and that can be fixed with some hydration; your hair can be of a low porosity at the root and a normal porosity at the ends, which is why conditioners are applied from the mid-length to the tips because it is more prone to damage.

Features of Hair with Normal Porosity

  • It readily absorbs moisture and retains it effectively.
  • Hair typically appears healthy and lustrous.
  • The porosity is the simplest to style and maintain.
  • Holds styles well.

High Porosity Hair

High Porosity Hair
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The cortex is susceptible to high porosity hair because the cuticle has been damaged or split; it may absorb moisture easily but loses it just as rapidly.

Hair can become porous through excessive sun exposure, high heat styling products such as curling or straightening irons, hot rollers, blow dryers without diffusers, and swimming in chlorinated or salt water frequently. Up to 30% more pores are immediately created by bleaching or highlighting than before.

The cuticle can be elevated by excessive brushing, over-washing, tight hairstyles, and ponytail holders.

Properties of High Porosity Hair

  • It readily absorbs moisture but does not hold onto it; additional products are needed to keep moisture in.
  • Less likely to accumulate product.
  • Water is easily absorbed.
  • Hair also dries quickly.
  • It tangles very quickly and is always frizzy.

How to Test Hair Porosity

There are several at-home metrics to measure our hair porosity, but the truth is accurate lab testing would be necessary to ascertain your true hair porosity. I’ll describe these techniques to help you get a sense of the porosity level of your hair, but keep in mind that there are some restrictions, which I’ll also cover.

The three procedures are the cup, spray, and slide tests.

The Cup Test

Cup Hair porosity test
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A clean hair strand and a glass cup are required for this test method. Pour purified water into the cup, if possible, and for the hair strand, take one from the wall or your comb after washing instead of pulling one out.

Place the hair strand in the cup of water, wait a few minutes, and if it floats, the hair’s porosity is low since it is repelling the water. Normal porosity is defined as being in the middle, not floating at the top, and not entirely sinking to the bottom. Additionally, it has a high porosity if it settles to the bottom.

The limitations of this test:

  • The surface tension of water is the first characteristic of water, known as “viscosity.” Therefore, if you set a light object on top of the water, it will float. Push or poke your hair into the water for a more precise outcome after placing it in the cup. Even after several minutes have elapsed, the hair strand continues to float because the surface tension may have overcome its weight and porosity.
  • Your hair will probably repel water if there is product buildup in it, and it will probably sink more rapidly if there is a conditioning agent in it.
  • Due to the comparable specific gravities of hair and water, hair will float in the liquid.

Spray Test Method 

Grab a bottle of water with a spray top, and mist some water through your hair. If water beads are sitting on your hair, your hair probably has low porosity. Your hair has higher porosity if it feels like it is starved of moisture. The normal porosity will likely be in the middle—not too fast or slow.

The Slide Test

Take a hair strand and place it between your fingertips to achieve this. You may have low porosity hair if it is straight or smooth; on the other hand, high porosity hair may feel rough and ridged.

Due to some variances, the test mentioned above may not precisely assess your hair’s porosity. You will still need to pay great attention, study, and watch your hair to determine its porosity.

The Porosity Grading System

Further research showed that the hair porosity follows a five-grading system ranging from extremely low porous to extremely high porous hair with grade one( extremely low porous)  as a virgin natural hair and tightly overlapping cuticles with a natural shine and smoothness to it. 

The second-grade porosity in the spectrum may be easily maintained. It can be detangled without needing a conditioner even after being exposed to the sun, occasion coloring, or heat style.

Third-grade porosity hair can still be maintained with hair treatments even though it has been degraded by heat damage and some chemical processing.

The fourth-grade system has been lightened by over seven levels, is quite damaged, has a frizzy appearance, and the cuticle has split up to reveal the cortex. At this point, the fifth-grade class’s hair has lost its color, developed gelatinous cuticles, and grown extremely thin and soft. The only option for this extremely porous hair is a major chop, which is terrifying.

Basic Care Tips for Normal, Low, and High Porous Hair.

Understanding your hair’s porosity should guide how to take care of it so it may flourish properly. Here is how to take care of the various hair porosity types:

Low Porosity Hair Maintenance

  1. Heat treatment can help by gradually raising the cuticle, which helps the hair absorb moisture more quickly because it has a hard time doing so. This doesn’t imply that you should use hot tools; instead, use a hooded dryer or a heat cap when adding a deep conditioner. You might also wash your hair in hot water.
  1. Purchase hair care products with light oils like almond, argan, jojoba, and grape seed to prevent your hair from becoming weighed down and to help it absorb moisture. Less is more when applying styling products to hair with low porosity.
  1. Include a clarifying shampoo in your hair care routine because low porosity hair can become weighed down by product buildup and would benefit greatly from being washed with one weekly.
  1. Another option is to perform an acid vinegar rinse by combining water and raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) in a nozzled bottle at a 3:1 ratio, shaking the bottle and waiting a little period. In this instance, regular shampoo should be added first, followed by washing, direct application of ACV to the scalp, and rinsing. Deep condition your curls after cleansing to moisturize and nourish.

Caring for Medium Porosity Hair

  1. Your hair products should be a combination of protein and hydrating products if your hair has this type of porosity. Hair with normal porosity doesn’t need as much upkeep!
  1. Regular deep conditioning is beneficial since medium porosity hair may be more prone to dryness and split ends. Your hair will stay hydrated if you use a deep conditioning treatment, but be careful not to overdo it as this could lead to moisture overload. Damage brought on by too much moisture inside the hair cortex.
  1. Create a protein moisture balance by incorporating protein-strengthening treatments in your hair care routine, providing strength and rigidity to the strands. Regularly use a clarifying shampoo to remove extra oils, product buildup, and minerals.

Caring for High Porosity Hair

  1. Your hair won’t be drained of its natural oils if you wash it with a moisturizing or sulfate-free shampoo. High porosity already has trouble keeping moisture; it would not be healthy for your hair to deprive it of its oils throughout the cleansing procedure.
  1. Rinse hair with cold water after shampooing and conditioning to help lock in moisture. To enhance moisture, choose hair products with oil or cream bases. As a general rule, shop for thicker, richer products to hydrate and nourish your hair.
  1. To give your hair a significant moisturizing boost, look for products with the words “cream” and “oil” on the label rather than water-based chemicals. Use the liquid, cream, or powder (LCO or LOC) application method to apply the product.
  1. Wash your hair with a moisturizing or sulfate-free shampoo; this ensures that your hair isn’t stripped of its natural oils. High porosity already has a problem retaining moisture; stripping it of its oils during the cleansing process would not be suitable for your hair.
  1. High porosity readily tangles. Use a wide tooth comb to get through that when detangling conditioned hair; using a brush can put more tension on your hair and cause hair breakage; therefore, be patient while detangling, and you’ll enjoy the outcome.
  1. Hair with high porosity has numerous sizable pores that quickly absorb moisture and styling ingredients but also quickly lose them. Your hair gains strength, structure, and hardness from protein treatments by establishing new internal links that make your hair rigid. Additionally, it gives water a new place to bond in these pores, which aids in controlling moisture.
  1. Protective hairstyles, such as braids, twists, or locs, provide you the freedom to refrain from frequently tampering with your hair, which promotes hair growth. The porosity of hair is increased by excessive manipulation, which also promotes hair breakage and damage. Additionally, it would be best if you swapped out your terry towel with a softer item of clothing, preferably a microfiber towel, as the terry towel is harder on the hair strands and can cause breaking.
  1. To remove product buildup, extra oils, grime, and minerals, clarify hair. To remove buildup from the hair, use a clarifying or chelating shampoo. Since these shampoos typically have a stronger sulfate class, you should follow up with a deep conditioner to prevent dryness. You can also use natural household items like baking soda, salt, and lemon juice.

Is there cause for concern regarding porosity?

Not, in my opinion, The hair is naturally designed to repel water, and the body naturally gives it the sebum and oils it needs. However, because textured hair has an oval-shaped hair follicle, it is much harder for these oils to penetrate the hair shaft, making it difficult for them to travel down the hair shaft. For this reason, conditioners are beneficial in nourishing the hair and ensuring that it stays moisturized.

Although there are some discrepancies in the porosity tests, as was previously discussed, and we may have more than one type of porosity on our heads, it is still much simpler to determine your hair’s porosity after the grading system.

In general, the porosity increases with the amount of damage. The cuticles’ raisedness, which facilitates moisture absorption and expulsion, is measured in terms of porosity. The new growth at the root is often healthy and without pores, but with exposure to stressors including treatment, the environment, sunshine, friction, chemical processing, and more! The cuticles can lift or break depending on the damage, and this doesn’t occur equally because the top layers and ends of our hair sustain the most damage because they are more exposed.

The Bottom Line

No matter how careful we try to be, avoiding damage is difficult, so no one has extremely low porosity hair. However, if you’ve had little to no exposure to damage and take good care of your hair, you’re probably low or medium porosity. If you’ve had a lot of exposure to hot tools and chemical processing, you’re probably high porosity.

Numerous variables influence how porosity influences your hair’s behavior, including genetics, products used, water hardness, thickness, curl type, etc. 

I’m sure this article has covered all you need to assess your hair’s porosity and how to take care of it. Most significantly, it eases any concerns about your hair’s porosity.

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