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Ask the Pro | Hair Porosity: What Is It & Why Does it Matter?

written by Toia B. February 27, 2014

Welcome back to another edition of Ask the Pro!

Today, hair care professional Simeko Watkins-Hartley tackles another issue on the minds of many naturalistas… porosity.

Are you like many other naturals who seem to have dry hair no matter what products you use and how often you use them?!

Consider this: you could be experiencing POROSITITOUS (Just kidding… there is no such thing! I figured I’d come up with something new since everyone else does and most of us seem to go with it)! On a more serious note, your hair may have either low or high porosity.

porosity

The porosity level of your hair has a large effect on its ability to absorb and maintain moisture. Having low porosity means that the cuticles are so tightly closed, that when you put moisturizing products on your hair, they don’t readily absorb into your hair (in other words, products seem to sit on your hair and your hair still feels dry). OR, you could be experiencing the exact opposite, high porosity.  This means that the cuticles are open so much that just as quickly as your hair takes in moisture, it lets it out (in other words, no matter how many times you moisturize your hair, it never feels like you put anything on it and it feels dry all the time).

So, what’s a gal to do…?

Test & Adjust!

There are a couple of ways to test your hair for low & high porosity:

  1. Take a strand of hair and run your index finger and thumb up and down the strand.  If the strand feels really smooth then you may have low porosity and if it feels really rough then you may have high porosity
  2. Take a strand of hair and place it in a glass of water.  If the strand floats at the top of the glass then you may have low porosity and if it immediately sinks to the bottom of the glass, then you may have high porosity.

If you find that your hair has low porosity, then you may want to try steam treatments and products that are alkaline (bentonite clay, baking soda, and clarifying shampoos, have a pH more than 7) as these will help to open up the cuticle to allow the hair to absorb moisture.

If you find that your hair has high porosity, then you may want to try using products that are acidic (apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, and pH balanced shampoos, have a pH between 3.5-5) as these will help to seal the cuticle allowing the hair to retain moisture longer. Protein treatments are great as well because they often help to fill in the open spaces on the cuticle which aids in retaining moisture.  You can also try using heavier oils/butters (shea butter, extra virgin oil, castor oil) because they act as a sealant and tend to lock in moisture a lot longer because it takes longer for them to absorb into the hair.

So go ahead and take the porosity test… it might just be what you need to help solve dry hair problems!  

Naturally Yours,

Simeko Watkins-Hartley

Owner & Creative Director of Meko, New York Natural Hair Care Spa & Boutique

Disclaimer: This information serves as a guide to inform, inspire and encourage women, like myself, to regain and maintain their healthiest hair possible.

*opening image via The Coiffure Project by Glenford Nunez

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