The deal with hair porosity: What it is, how to identify your type, and ways to handle it

The deal with hair porosity: What it is, how to identify your type, and ways to handle it

Hair me out

Text: Jeway Tan

Editor: Emily Heng

Here's the deal: most of us are well-aware of the different hair types. There's thin strands; curly locks; and damaged tresses to name a few, all of which requires special attention and TLC. And while you might be aware of what kind of products to use to handle these concerns, said goods are hardly going to be efficacious if your mane isn't equipped to absorb all that nourishment. Introducing: porosity, the latest addition to the beauty lexicon to know about. Think of it as an essential to boosting your hair health — and to understanding your crowning glory better. We've detailed the important points of note, below.

So, what is hair porosity?

It is in reference to how much moisture you hair can retain. The meaning of porous is something that possesses or is full of pores. Like your skin, your hair also contains pores, albeit a different kind. When you have highly porous hair or high porosity hair, this means the pores of the hair are "open", and thus is able to absorb more moisture. But this also means that while the hair can absorb a ton of moisture, it is not able to hold on to it, which causes strands to be more fragile and prone to breakage. On the other side of the spectrum, there is low porosity hair. This means the pores in the hair are not as open, and hence, has difficulty absorbing moisture. But when it does, it's able to retain long-lasting moisture, which helps keep the hair from looking dry and damaged.

How and what can you do to determine your hair's porosity level?

One of the easiest ways is simply to drop a strand of hair into a glass of water. If the strand sinks slowly, then you have a regular hair porosity level. If it sinks to the bottom almost instantly, then you have high porosity hair. If the hair floats, then it is on the low side of the porosity scale.

Another way to test it is to spritz some water on dry hair and take note of how fast it absorbs the water. If it soaks the water up really quickly, that is a solid indication of having high porosity hair. If it takes a while to soak in, then you have low porosity hair.

What can you do to take better care of high- or low-porosity hair, then?

For low porosity strands,

  • Try using protein-free conditioners. They are least likely to cause a build-up on your scalp and tend to be better absorbed into your hair.
  • Diluting your conditioner might make it easier for your hair to absorb, too, so try applying conditioner when your hair is already wet. Leaving it on for at least 10 minutes will also allow your hair to absorb the product better and fully.
  • Avoid products with oils as these they tend to have a more challenging time penetrating the hair cuticle.
  • Add a little bit of heat when you are conditioning your hair. Try adding a steamer, heat cap or hooded dryer into the mix.

For high porosity strands,

  • Look for and use shampoos and conditioners that contain oils. This will help moisturise your hair.
  • Use leave-in conditioners as they help seal and hold moisture in.
  • Be sure to use heat protectors before using any heat styling tools to protect your hair from heat damage.
  • Avoid using hot water to wash your hair. Cold water would be ideal, but lukewarm water works too.