Quick hair quiz: What hair type dries fast, dampens fast, and soaks up product fast? The answer: high porosity hair. If you have this type of hair, you might be the kind of person who rushes out of the shower to apply product so your hair won’t dry up before you get a chance to add some moisture. Or perhaps, regardless of how many expensive oils you run through your strands, you can never escape dryness.
Is it your fault that you have such porous hair? Well, yes and no. Hair porosity is partially attributed to your habits. If you frequently use heat styling tools or chemically process your hair with dye, or straight or curly perms, you are likely contributing to your high hair porosity. But what if you avoid all these culprits and you still have high porosity hair? In this case, your natural hair may just tend towards high porosity because of genetics.
Whatever the cause, high porosity hair doesn’t have to get you down. In fact, it’s possible to attain softer, healthier-looking hair. With the right hair products, hair care tips, and hair maintenance routine, you can manage your high porosity locks and make them work for you.
What Is High Porosity Hair?
At this point, you might be wondering what is porosity exactly? According to the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists (NYSCC), porosity is the hair’s ability to absorb and retain water, hair products, and treatments. It can be influenced by genetics as well as hair grooming practices.
Porosity is based around the condition of the hair cuticles, which is the outermost layer of a hair strand. A hair shaft (the part of the hair cuticle that is exposed above the scalp) with high porosity has a raised texture, which allows it to absorb more moisture than it can actually retain.
To better understand what this looks like at a microscopic level, picture a piece of yarn that has been frayed from heavy use. The smaller strands that make up the yarn are flying every which way — what was once one piece of string now looks like a bunch of smaller strings compressed together. This is what a high porosity hair strand looks like.
The raised texture of the hair shaft, which can look like a bunch of smaller hairs branching off the main strand, allows water and other liquidy products to easily cling onto the strand without actually being retained.
But how does hair become highly porous? NYSCC states that high porosity hair can be compromised by configurational, chemical, and/or mechanical stress. Even if you don’t chemically process your hair or use heated tools, you can still have high porosity hair.
For example, overbrushing or overwashing your hair can lead to more porous strands. Likewise, if you have a coily or curly hair texture, it can cause the cuticle to naturally lift at different points along the hair shaft. Of course, you can end up with highly porous hair if you often dye, straighten, curl, or receive other heated or chemical treatments.
The Upside to Highly Porous Hair
Anyone with high porosity has become all too familiar with frizz, breakage, and generally dry hair texture. This is due to your hair’s struggle to retain any moisture it lets in. While these annoyances can be challenging, there are some benefits to high porosity strands.
The first is that your hair is quick to take in color. So if you’ve been in the salon chair for 10 minutes and your hairstylist notices that your locks are already taking in color, you’ve got your high porosity to thank for that. On top of this, having quick-drying hair can be a great benefit because it means you can skip blow-drying and avoid added heat damage.
While there’s no doubt that highly porous hair can be high maintenance, a healthy balance of the right products and minimal hair processes can make it much easier to work with on a daily basis.
The Hair Porosity Test
How can you be sure that you have high porosity hair? To determine your porosity level, there’s an easy test you can do at home.
Simply take a strand of hair and place it in a lukewarm glass of water. If your hair floats at the top, you have low porosity hair that is slow to absorb water and hair product. If it lingers around the middle before falling to the bottom, you have medium porosity hair. This type is also known as normal porosity hair and is considered to be the easiest hair type to manage. If your strand sinks to the bottom of the glass quickly, you have high porosity hair.
While having high porosity hair may not be the easiest to maintain, don’t lose hope in having fabulous hair. There are millions of other people like you who struggle to keep their hair from drying or becoming frizzy. And there are also hydrating products designed to rejuvenate tresses and boost strength.
How to Treat Your High Porosity Hair
What people with high porosity hair need the most is hydration. This can be accomplished by sealing the ends of the cuticles with oil. Oils, such as coconut oil, can penetrate the hair shaft without leaving a greasy residue.
Using a hair serum with nourishing oils and moisturizing ingredients can benefit high porosity hair types by:
- Reducing frizz
- Increasing shine
- Improving detangling
- Thermally protecting hair
Function of Beauty’s hair serum uses naturally-derived ingredients like jojoba, sunflower, and argan oils and a silicone base that coats the surface of the hair to help promote smoothness, hydration, and humidity protection. It’s designed to make hair appear less frizzy, prevent moisture loss, and give hair a beautifully lustrous look.
According to NYSCC, a popular and effective method for applying styling products to high porosity hair is the LOC method: leave-in conditioner, oil, cream. Using a lightweight leave-in conditioner on a hair wash day works to help smooth and hydrate hair after you’ve showered. The oil then seals the hair cuticles and the cream works to replenish the moisture that your highly porous hair needs.
Another way to treat high porosity hair is to use a hair mask in place of regular conditioner. Masks are great for those with dry, damaged, or over-processed hair. But not all hair masks are created equal. Opt for masks that are free of sulfates, which can be drying and harsh for sensitive skin. Also look for naturally-derived ingredients like:
- Shea butter: Revitalizes hydration lost from heat and chemical processing
- Aloe vera: Replenishes your hair’s moisture balance
- Palm fruit extract: Enhances your strands for optimum color uptake
Take our custom hair mask quiz to find out the perfect hair mask formula for your high porosity hair needs and goals.
Enjoy Healthy-Looking Hair
Some people may view their high porosity hair as a life sentence to dry, dull, frizzy hair, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Now that you understand how the raised texture of your hair strands allows liquids to quickly absorb without retaining them, you can invest in haircare products made specifically for your porosity level.
Function of Beauty offers a nearly endless variety of haircare products that you can fully customize to address your unique hair needs. From shampoo and conditioner to hair mist and beyond, you can select 100% personalized products that will help you reach your hair goals. It’s time to enjoy hydrated, healthy-looking hair.