Hair Care

What the Heck is Hair Porosity, and Why Should I Care? (A Beginner’s Guide)

If you’ve ever wondered why certain hair products work wonders for your friend but leave your hair looking lackluster, the answer might lie in your hair’s porosity. Hair porosity is a critical factor in determining how your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Understanding this can transform your hair care routine and lead to healthier, more manageable hair. But what exactly is hair porosity, and why should you care?

What is Hair Porosity?

Definition and Importance

Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. It’s determined by the state of your hair cuticle, which is the outermost layer of your hair. The cuticle’s condition can affect how well moisture and oils penetrate and stay within your hair strands.

“Hair porosity is essentially your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Understanding your hair porosity can help you choose the right products and techniques to keep your hair healthy and hydrated,” explains Shab Reslan, a certified trichologist.

Types of Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is generally categorized into three types:

  1. Low Porosity: Hair with a tightly bound cuticle layer that resists moisture penetration but also retains moisture well once it’s absorbed.
  2. Medium Porosity: Hair with a slightly raised cuticle that allows moisture to enter and stay within the hair shaft efficiently.
  3. High Porosity: Hair with a highly raised or damaged cuticle that absorbs moisture quickly but also loses it just as fast.

Why Should You Care About Hair Porosity?

Personalized Hair Care

Understanding your hair’s porosity can help you choose products and techniques tailored to your hair’s specific needs. This personalized approach can lead to healthier, shinier, and more manageable hair.

“Low porosity hair is like a tightly woven fabric, high porosity hair is like a loose weave, and medium porosity hair is somewhere in between. Each type requires different care to maintain optimal health,” says Gwenda B., a licensed cosmetologist and educator.

Achieving Hair Goals

Whether your goal is to increase moisture, reduce frizz, or enhance shine, knowing your hair porosity can guide you in achieving these objectives more effectively.

“Caring for your hair according to its porosity is key to achieving your desired hair goals, whether it’s moisture, shine, or strength,” notes celebrity hairstylist Anthony Dickey.

How to Determine Your Hair Porosity

The Float Test

A simple and popular method to determine your hair porosity is the float test. Here’s how it works:

  1. Take a strand of clean, dry hair.
  2. Fill a glass with water.
  3. Drop the hair strand into the glass of water.
  4. Observe what happens over the next 2-4 minutes.

“If you’re unsure of your hair porosity, a simple ‘float test’ can give you a good idea. Just drop a strand of hair into a glass of water and see if it sinks, floats, or hovers in the middle,” advises natural hair expert Aishia Strickland.

  • Low Porosity: The hair floats on top.
  • Medium Porosity: The hair hovers in the middle.
  • High Porosity: The hair sinks to the bottom.

Other Methods

Slip ‘n’ Slide Test

Another method is the slip ‘n’ slide test. Take a strand of hair and slide your fingers up the shaft towards the scalp. If it feels smooth, you likely have low porosity hair. If it feels rough and bumpy, you might have high porosity hair.

Water Absorption Test

Spritz some water on your hair and observe how long it takes to absorb. If the water beads up and takes a while to absorb, you have low porosity hair. If it absorbs quickly, you have high porosity hair.

Caring for Low Porosity Hair


Low porosity hair tends to be resistant to moisture and products, which can cause buildup on the scalp and hair shaft. It often appears shiny and healthy but can feel dry and stiff.

Tips for Low Porosity Hair

Use Lightweight Oils

Lightweight oils like argan or grapeseed oil are more easily absorbed by low porosity hair without causing buildup.

Apply Heat

Heat can help open up the hair cuticle, allowing moisture to penetrate. Consider using a steamer or applying a warm towel over your conditioner.

Avoid Protein Overload

Low porosity hair can be sensitive to protein treatments, which can make it feel even stiffer. Opt for moisture-rich conditioners and avoid protein-heavy products.

Personal Anecdote:

When I discovered my hair was low porosity, I switched to using lightweight oils and incorporating heat into my conditioning routine. The difference was incredible—my hair became softer and more manageable.

Caring for Medium Porosity Hair


Medium porosity hair usually requires the least maintenance. It absorbs and retains moisture well and is less prone to damage. This hair type often looks and feels healthy.

Tips for Medium Porosity Hair

Balanced Routine

Maintain a balance of moisture and protein in your hair care routine. Use moisturizing conditioners and occasional protein treatments to keep your hair healthy.

Regular Maintenance

Continue with regular trims and deep conditioning treatments to keep your hair in top condition.

Caring for High Porosity Hair


High porosity hair absorbs moisture quickly but also loses it just as fast. This can be due to damage from chemical treatments, heat styling, or environmental factors. It often looks dry, frizzy, and feels rough.

Tips for High Porosity Hair

Use Heavy Oils and Butters

Heavier oils and butters like shea butter and castor oil can help seal moisture into high porosity hair.

Avoid Heat

Avoid excessive heat styling, which can further damage the cuticle and exacerbate porosity issues.

Protein Treatments

Regular protein treatments can help strengthen high porosity hair and reduce breakage.

Personal Anecdote:

I used to struggle with frizz and dryness until I learned my hair was high porosity. Incorporating heavier oils and regular protein treatments transformed my hair’s texture and health.


Understanding your hair porosity is like unlocking a secret code to achieving your best hair days. As Dr. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist, says, “Understanding your hair porosity is like unlocking a secret code to achieving your best hair days.” (Source: MindBodyGreen). By tailoring your hair care routine to your hair’s porosity, you can ensure it receives the right balance of moisture, protein, and care. Whether you have low, medium, or high porosity hair, the right knowledge and products can lead to healthier, shinier, and more manageable locks.

The Science Behind Hair Porosity

The Correlation Between Hair Porosity and Hair Damage

A study examining the relationship between hair porosity and different types of hair damage, such as breakage, split ends, and frizz, could provide insights into the specific needs of each hair type. Understanding how various hair care practices impact porosity levels can help in developing more effective treatment plans.

The Effectiveness of Personalized Hair Care Routines Based on Hair Porosity

Investigating the effectiveness of customized hair care routines tailored to individual hair porosity levels can reveal the impact of different products and techniques on hair health, moisture retention, and overall appearance. This research could lead to more personalized and effective hair care solutions.

Final Thoughts

By understanding and catering to your hair’s unique porosity, you can achieve healthier, more beautiful hair. Remember, whether your hair is low, medium, or high porosity, the key is to find the right balance of products and techniques that work for you. So, take the time to understand your hair, experiment with different routines, and enjoy the journey to your best hair days yet!

Nyla Rose

Nyla Rose stands at the intersection of beauty and fashion as both a seasoned hairstylist and an influential blogger. Starting her journey in the bustling salons of the city, Nyla honed her skills, specializing in creating transformative hairstyles that not only fit her clients' personalities but also set the pace for emerging trends. But her passion didn't stop at the salon chair.

Eager to share her insights with a broader audience, Nyla embarked on a blogging journey, shedding light on the ever-evolving worlds of beauty and fashion.

Through her blog, she provides a unique blend of practical style advice, in-depth product reviews, and trendspotting, all conveyed with a personal touch that her readers have come to love. Her dedication to the craft and her ability to weave together the realms of hairstyling and fashion writing have cemented her reputation as a trusted voice in both fields.

Contact: LinkedIn | E-Mail

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