Feature Image: Graham Hunt
We did a bit of digging into what is really important to understand about your hair – particularly if it’s curly – and found that porosity is what we should learn about.
Forget texture, colour or length, the main cause of any pros and cons dealing with your hair is actually due to its porosity. Essentially, hair porosity is how well the strands of your hair can absorb and then retain moisture. Hair does this because of its cuticles; they’re either closed, normal or raised. Imagine hundreds of tiny doors lifting up from a strand of your hair; dependent on how wide the door opens effects how much moisture gets in the hair. These three categories of hair cuticles place hair into these sectors of hair porosity:
Low – Cuticles are closed meaning that products and water sit on the hair and struggle to be absorbed which can be recognised by:
• You feel that products tend to build up in your hair quickly.
• Any oils/ conditioners feel as thought they sit on your hair.
• Your hair taking a while to feel fully wet under water.
Medium – Cuticles are at a ‘normal’ in-between and so moisture can get in and be retained, this can be symptomised by:
• Your hair has plenty bounce and elasticity.
• Your hair doesn’t require much maintenance (washing, conditioning and drying regularly).
• If you dye your hair the colour takes to it evenly and well.
High – Open Cuticles are open therefore the hair absorbs moisture quickly but also releases it just as fast, this is noticed by:
• You find you need to use a lot of products for them to have the desired effect on your hair.
• Your hair often feels dry.
• Frizziness is persistent and occurs easily.
For most people, porosity is genetic, but elements such as environmental stresses, hard water, heat-styling, and chemical treatments can also have an effect. To ensure you’re caring for your hair the best way for it’s porosity levels is to test it. A easy way to determine whether your hair is on the low or high end of the spectrum is the the cup of water trick. Basically, all that is needed is to drop a strand of hair into a cup of water, if it sinks to the bottom, it is high porosity and if it floats on the top, it is low.
Knowing where your hair falls on the scale, to best care for it use products with low protein for hair with low porosity. Also, whilst washing your hair it will help to wash with warm water first to open the cuticles, and after with cold to seal them. For hair with high porosity, incorporate a deep conditioner to your hair routine. Bailey says that those with low-porosity hair should make sure to use products with low protein.