Well, I’m sure you’ve heard about the hair porosity test doing the rounds over the internet. So, what is all the hype about this “hair porosity test”?  Read on, to find out!

Hair Porosity  - tests and treatments

What is hair porosity?

The hair has three parts – the cuticle (the outer part of your hair or the protective layer), the cortex (the thickest layer that gives the hair the colour and contains the essential proteins) and the medulla (the central part of the hair which is soft in nature). The only way the water, oils, conditioners and other hair treatments can enter into your hair shaft, is by the cuticle.

Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. So the more porous the hair cuticle is, the more moisture it absorbs.  The cuticle opens and closes to absorb or get rid of moisture.

Hair porosity often depends on genetics, but also has other factors contributing to it, like hair treatments like heat, bleaching, dyeing, over washing, over use of products etc and even over exposure to sunlight, causing the cuticles to open up. Knowing the porosity of your hair can help you choose and determine what kind of hair treatment you require to be able to get the best results.

Hair porosity is of three types:

Low porosity: Hair with low porosity has compact cuticles. This means that lesser moisture can be absorbed into the hair and it doesn’t penetrate easily.

Medium/normal porosity: This type of hair, with medium or normal hair porosity means that it is an in between type where the cuticles aren’t very tightly bound, but does absorb and get rid of moisture.

High porosity: High porosity hair type absorbs moisture in quickly, but can lose its moisture very easily causing hygral fatigue. Which means this kind of hair type can dry out quite fast.

The hair porosity test:

Here are three ways you can test your hair’s porosity levels:

Method 1: The hair float test

Fill a transparent glass full with water and drop in one strand of your hair into the glass of water. Then, wait for the results.

Note: It is important to make sure your hair is well shampooed and washed, before performing this test.

What do you see and what do the results mean?

So once you have dropped your strand of hair in, observe carefully and watch the glass to see whether the hair strand sinks to the bottom, stays afloat or floats somewhere in the middle of the glass.

The results:

Low porosity: If the hair strand floats at the top of the glass, it means your hair has low porosity.

Medium/normal porosity: If the hair strand floats somewhere in the middle of the glass, it means your hair has medium/normal porosity.

High porosity: If the hair strand immediately sinks to the bottom of the glass, it means your hair has high porosity.

Method 2: The hair texture test

Another way you can do the hair porosity test is by running your finger down the hair shaft. If your hair is low in porosity, it will feel smooth in texture, while a high porosity hair strand will feel rough and uneven as the cuticles will be open.

Method 3: Hair characteristics

Low porosity hair will:

  • Take longer for you to get your hair wet while having a head bath.
  • Make your hair take longer to dry once you’ve had a head bath.
  • Not make it easy for the penetration of the hair products you use into your hair shaft.

Use – Use clarifying shampoo to remove any buildup. If you have low porosity hair, you need to treat the cuticles by providing it with moisture. Before hair wash use a hot oil hair treatment – READ MORE – Hot Oil Hair Treatment – benefits and how to

Medium/normal porosity hair will:

  • Make it easy for hair styling and setting.
  • Make the hair dry out easily after a head bath.
  • Give your hair a healthy, smooth and shiny look.

If you have medium or normal hair porosity, it needs lesser maintenance than the other two types and using regular hair oils and conditioners can help maintain your hair as it is. Use deep conditioner like shea butter once a week and also clay mask to remove any buildup from the hair. 10 BEST HAIR MASKS to solve all your hair problems

High porosity hair will:

  • Easily let hair products penetrate into the hair shaft.
  • Make it easier for the hair to get damaged, break, cause split ends to appear and make the hair look dry, rough and frizzy.
  • Dry out quickly after you have had a head bath.

If you have high porosity hair, you will need to use oils that can penetrate into the hair shaft, while it can also help your hair retain the moisture for longer time. Apply a drop of oil every day just at the ends of your hair to keep them hydrated and nourished.

Here are some common myths about hair porosity:

Myth 1: Hair porosity remains the same for life

Well, this is not true! You hair porosity can change and even though genetics plays a major role in hair porosity, there are many other factors contributing to one’s hair porosity. Treatments like heat, bleaching, dyeing, over washing, over use of products etc and even over exposure to sunlight can cause the cuticles to open up and change your hair porosity over time.

Myth 2: Hair porosity depends only on the products you use

Well, no! Products aren’t the only reasons your hair porosity turns out a certain way. Like mentioned earlier, one can be more genetically prone to a certain hair porosity type, but it can change over time due to contributing factors like over exposure to sunlight and UV (ultra-violet) rays. Then, the chemicals that we use on our hair from hair dyes, to hair styling products, over exposure to heat treatments, hair care and hair maintenance treatments, type of water we wash our hair with or in which our hair comes in contact with (hard water, sea water, chlorinated water for those who go swimming often), can all have an impact on the hair cuticle.

Myth 3: High Porosity hair makes it the best hair type to have

This is a big no! Just like everything else, hair porosity also has its pros and cons. Well, having the medium or normal hair porosity type is of course the best, but when it comes to choosing between the low and high hair porosity type, it would have to be low porosity type (because even though it makes it difficult for water and moisture to get absorbed in, it also makes it difficult for the water and moisture to get out, which means it can be retained for longer time, compared to high porosity hair type).