Understanding hair porosity

Understanding hair porosity

This article is a bit technical and not our usual tips and suggestions.  It is for those who are interested in why different products yield different results for different people.  Porosity refers to the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. Understanding  hair's porosity can be helpful when choosing styling products and treatments, as well as in preventing damage caused by heat styling tools.

Hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture.

Hair porosity is a measure of how easily your hair can absorb and retain moisture. The more porous your hair is, the more it will soak up moisture from products like conditioners or deep conditioners.  Hair can be naturally low, medium or high porosity (or somewhere in between).


You can help manage the health of your curls by understanding the effects of porosity on them.

 In order for hair to grow and remain healthy, it needs to be able to absorb and retain moisture. There are four distinct types of hair porosity: high, normal, low and porous (aka "normal-to-high"). It's important to determine your own type because it will help you understand how best to care for your curls.


The first step in determining your porosity level is assessing the texture of your strands--do they feel smooth or coarse? Next look at their length--are they long or short? If so then take note because these factors play into whether or not a strand has been damaged by heat styling tools like flat irons which can damage both cuticles (outer layer) as well as internal structure underneath them called cortex (middle layer).


If your hair is coarse or short, then it's likely that you have a high porosity level. You may also have a history of heat damage or chemical treatments in the past, which can cause your cuticles to open up and make them more susceptible to damage. High porosity hair needs extra moisture because it absorbs water quickly but also loses it just as fast. This means that you should always be sure to use products with humectants like glycerin and coconut oil.


A high porosity hair type is also prone to tangles and knots because their cuticles are more open than they should be. This means that a conditioner with slip agents like dimethicone or silicones will help prevent these tangles and keep your curls looking smooth.


If you have low porosity hair, then it's most likely that your hair is fine or very fine. Your strands are also going to have a hard time holding onto moisture which means that they're prone to dryness and breakage when left untreated. This type of hair is usually easier to style without heat tools but can be difficult because it tends to be limp and lifeless without any product. A good cuticle sealer like argan oil will help keep your curls looking shiny and healthy by sealing the layer of your hair closest to the scalp where the cuticles live.



Understanding your hair porosity can be helpful in your decisions related to products and heat tools.   The way that you style your hair impacts porosity which impacts the hair’s ability to absorb water and hold onto moisture.