WTH is Porosity?

Originally published on February 6, 2018

I have said before that porosity is the most important “hair type.” You and I can both be 3B but if we have different hair porosities we use different products and we have different routines. If you want to know where you fall on the popular hair (texture) type chart you can see one here. I know a lot of hair bloggers say that they don't like this hair type system because it separates naturals. As someone who is constantly told by women with type 4 hair that I can't relate to them because I have "good" hair, I can understand that. I don't care for it either way. Any hair that grows from any head is good hair. My hair type: Dominican curly.

Understanding your porosity is the first step in managing your hair type and finding the perfect routine for healthy, frizz-free, POPPIN hair. DISCLAIMER that I find necessary to include in every post… I am not a licensed professional. I have learned a lot from my mother who is one and I have done a ton of research. (After @SunKissedAlba on YouTube introduced me to porosity - I searched “porosity” and watched every single video in the first two pages of results - prior to having Ethan I had a lot of time on my hands lol) For this post I went digging a little further into more reliable sources. You most definitely do not have to trust everything I say. I encourage you to do your own research and continue to learn! This is just a summary of what I have learned so far and what works for me. I learn new things every day and I swear my hair be changing all the time too. Committing to your natural hair really is a journey.
WTH IS POROSITY?
Porosity is your hair’s ability to both take in moisture and hold on to it. Knowing your porosity and how it works can help you figure out what techniques and products are more likely to work for you. Moisture is key for hair health but if you have been reading my posts you already know THAT PART.
WHAT DETERMINES YOUR POROSITY?
Your porosity is determined by how open or closed your hair cuticles are. Porosity is genetic but it can be altered by chemical and heat manipulation. I really hate it when people with natural hair are high porosity and others say it is because their hair is damaged. That is most certainly not the case. You can be fully natural all your life and be high porosity if that's what the good Lord decided you’re going to be.
HOW CAN I FIGURE OUT MY POROSITY?
This video here shows you the 3 most popular tests. Out of those 3, the one you probably heard of is done as follows… you take a glass of clean room temperature water and simply place a clean strand of hair on top. You want it to be clean because products or oils can weigh your hair down giving you a false result. Don’t go cutting your hair off just take a strand after you shampoo. Then let it still for a few minutes.
I did this test and got an accurate result. However, I have read that often your hairs natural oil will cause the hair to float regardless of porosity. After you do the test, take your spray bottle and observe how your hair reacts to water. Does the water sit on top? Take a minute to fully penetrate the hair? If so you may be low porosity. If your hair takes in the water immediately you may be high porosity.
Keep in mind that like with all things hair related it’s not black and white. Things vary from head to head so you still have to experiment and find what works for you - this is almost like a guide.
 
CHARACTERISTICS
Low Porosity
  • Cuticles are tightly closed making it hard for moisture to come in.

  • Products tend to build up on your curls rather than absorb.

  • Curls take much longer to get fully saturated when you wet them and take a long time to dry.

  • Takes longer to absorb color.

Normal Porosity
  • Curls are full of bounce and elasticity.

  • Easily accepts and retains moisture inside the cuticle soooo get off my blog. (I kid, lol stay and give us curl envy.)

  • Holds styles well and can easily accept color.

High Porosity
  • Cuticles are wide open making it easy for moisture to come in... and out.

  • Curls easily absorb water, however, it requires more products and dries quickly.

  • Curls often look and feel dry.

  • Curls are often frizzy.

DEALING WITH YOUR POROSITY
Low Porosity
  • Your cuticles are closed so when you deep condition (or even pre-poo) apply heat to help open the cuticle - that way your hair can absorb all that moisture. You can sit under a hooded dryer, use a heated cap, a steamer or a warm towel.

  • Your hair is prone to build up so your cleanse regimen needs to be on point. You have to clarify often honey, put the co-wash down. I shouldn’t be talking lmao if by the grace of God I get to wash my hair midweek I will definitely co-wash but you already know I will shampoo on the weekend. Recently it was kind of cold in Florida (up North peeps I don’t want to hear it) and I chose to co-wash 3 weeks in a row. The build-up was worth it I guess because my hair didn’t dry out but it was definitely frizzy af after that 3rd week. So yeah you want to shampoo regularly, use things like clay washes and clay masks, and throw in an apple cider vinegar rinse here and there if that’s your style. When you are washing it's definitely okay to use warm water.

  • When you’re applying products you might have to “help” your hair absorb them. Try applying products to damp hair and in smaller sections so that it is distributed evenly.

  • Low porosity hair loves humectants like honey, aloe, glycerin and seaweed extract.

  • Be careful not to overuse protein - every 4-6 weeks should be enough. When you do try to use Hydrolyzed proteins (proteins with a lower molecular weight). When reading the ingredients on a protein treatment just look for the word ‘hydrolyzed.’

  • Because your hair is prone to build up thinner products might work better - think spray/watery leave-ins, hair milks, and sealing with lighter oils like grape seed.

  • Heavier oils do have a time and a place for you baby girl and it’s when you pre-poo or mix them with your deep conditioner.

Normal Porosity
  • You probably don't have too many issues with moisture retention.

  • Deep condition regularly to maintain the health of your hair but you can probably get away without using heat.

  • You can take tips and tricks from either porosity and do what works for you.

High Porosity
  • Seal your hair with heavier oils or butters to weigh down your cuticle and keep moisture in. Be careful not to weigh your hair down too much. Like with most things, all our hair requires trial and error; you have to find your balance. If you aren’t sensitive to Shea butter my whipped recipe is a great sealant and it’s very inexpensive to make a full 16 oz jar. 

  • You want to regularly do protein treatments to strengthen your hair. Also look for “hydrolyzed” proteins. That means that they have been broken down and can easily enter your hair.

  • I don’t have personal experience with this hair type but I found some for you guys!

  • HIGH POROSITY HAIR CARE | HOW TO DEAL this is a video. She mentions the aloe vera pre-poo I mentioned in this post. I told you guys this is a great routine for all hair types and porosities!!

  • HIGH POROSITY: how to identify & REAL solutions to common setbacks this is also a video.

So that was a bunch of information, wasn’t it? You’re probably over it right about now, but hopefully, this can help you figure out your porosity and maybe slightly alter your routine if you need to. If you use any of this or found it helpful please let me know in the comments down below. 
Like always thanks for reading. Feel free to share this post with your curl friends in need. 
XO
Consy

1 comment

  • I loved this post Consy! I just started going back to my curly hair routine and this was the first place I thought to come to get back in the swing of things! I definitely have high porosity hair, so thanks for the additional posts for reference. xoxoxo

    Imoni Heard

Leave a comment