The Critical Element of Hair Porosity

Giodona Campbell, Columnist

Do you ever wonder why your hair dries so fast? No matter how much hair grease and moisturizer you coat it with, it feels like dead grass the next day. Well, this is probably happening because you don’t know one of the most essential pieces of information about your hair: its porosity.

Hair porosity is a measures the flexibility of your hair cuticle which is the outermost part of your hair shaft. It detects how long and the amount of moisture your hair can retain, in addition to how often moisture passes in and out of your hair strands.

Many people with coarse, textured hair tend to get frustrated because their hair dries out so fast and it’s usually because they are unaware of their hair porosity. Knowing your hair porosity can aid in determining what products to use on your hair. In fact, learning the porosity of your hair means saving money as you will, ultimately, cut down your spending on products that may not work on your hair.
An article on explains the two methods you can use to find out your hair porosity: the first one is called the Float Test. For this test, you take a strand of hair and drop into a bowl of water. Then you let it sit for 2-4 minutes. If the strand of hair floats, you have low porosity. If it slightly submerged in the water, then it’s medium porosity. If it sinks to the bottom, you have high porosity. The second method is called the Slip ‘n Slide Test. For this test, you take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up the shaft. If you feel little bumps along the way, this means that your cuticle is lifted and that you have high porosity. If your fingers slip smoothly through the strand, then you have low porosity hair.

High porosity hair people have the most trouble keeping in moisture because the cuticle is always lifted. A key tip to keep in mind if you have high porosity hair: when rinsing the conditioner out of your hair, rinse with cold water to close the cuticle. As for low porosity hair people, which is what my hair is, we have to make sure our cuticle is open when we’re about to apply products. To do that, wet your hair with warm water when you are about to apply conditioner and lukewarm water when rinsing.

Even though your hair’s porosity is mostly due to genetics, other factors can contribute as well. According to Healthline, these factors include: “Blow drying, bleaching, straightening, overwashing, and using harsh products…” This source also states that “too much ultraviolet [the sun] exposure can also increase the porosity of your hair. To protect your hair from the sun, wear a hat or some type of head covering when you’re outdoors.” No matter what the porosity of your hair is, handling your kinks with proper care and a daily dosage of moisture will make it thrive.