Porosity is the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture; it tells a story of how quickly or slowly moisture enters and leaves the hair’s strands. Understanding porosity can be immensely helpful in choosing hair care products &/or developing a regimen for achieving your best hair results ‡

High Porosity 

Hair strands are very porous; outer cuticle layers are not tightly bound and have large gaps along the surface (naturally occurring, or from heat/chemical damage)

Main Objective: To slow down moisture loss

Main Concern: Extreme dryness, fragile strands 

Hair may exhibit a few or all of  the following behavioural traits: 

  • The hair is a sponge, it soaks up plenty of water and products readily.
  • Extreme dryness daily or every few days.
  • Hair gets tangled and matted easily; de-tangling is a challenge (esp without a pre-poo).
  • Hair strands are likely to favour products of a thick consistency, including butters.
  • Hair strands are fragile and may break easily; length retention may be slow to achieve.
  • After washing & styling, hair dries quickly (relative to its density and length)
  • If colour-dyed or bleached, hair is extremely dry, requiring moisture input daily.
  • Hair gets frizzy (loses curl pattern) easily in response to environmental stressors.

Must-do to slow moisture loss: 

  • Use an effective sealant after applying leave-ins.
  • Regular protein treatments.
  • Wear a  bonnet (as part of a night-time routine)
  • Wear protective styles

Must-do to add & maintain moisture:

  • Weekly deep-conditioning
  • Daily application &/or mid-week moisture refreshers
  • Apply leave-in products in layers  via methods such as LOC (Liquid, Oil, Cream) or LCO
  • Apply leave-ins on soaking wet hair
  • Wear protective styles
  • Drink your weight in water

Must-do to strengthen strands & encourage length-retention: 

  • Weekly deep-conditioning or at every wash
  • Regular protein treatments
  • Low manipulation of hair/protective styles
  • Gentle handling of fragile strands
  • Maintain a healthy diet

Medium Porosity

Hair strands are adequately porous. 

Main Objective: To maintain healthy hair 

Main Concern: To maintain moisture 

Hair may exhibit a few or all of the following behavioural traits:

  • Hair absorbs and loses moisture at a steady pace.
  • A wide range of hair care products produces predictable results.
  • De-tangling efforts are made easier with a pre-poo. 
  • Hair strands are not fragile, length retention comes easy.
  • Hair styles may last for  4-5 days (without mid-week moisture refreshers).

Must-do to slow moisture loss:

  • Wear a bonnet or  gather hair in a ‘pineapple’ (as part of a night-time routine)

Must-do to add & maintain moisture:

  • Weekly deep-conditioning
  • Maintain adequate protein treatments
  • Apply leave-ins on wet instead of ‘soaking wet’ hair
  • Drink your weight in water

Must-do to strengthen strands & encourage length retention:

  • Maintain adequate protein treatments

Low Porosity 

Hair strands are non-porous; outer cuticle layers are tightly bound, no large gaps along the surface unless caused from heat/chemical damage

Main Objective: To get moisture into the hair’s strands 

Main Concerns: Dryness, product build-up

Hair may exhibit a few or all of the following behavioural traits:

  • Hair does not absorb moisture readily; hair does not lose moisture readily.
  • Hair does not absorb a lot of water or product.
  • Hair strands are likely to favour products of a light consistency, hair butters need not apply.
  • De-tangling the hair takes less effort due to smooth cuticle layers
  • Hair strands are not fragile, length retention comes easy.
  • After washing & styling, hair takes a long time to dry.
  • Hair styles last all week, no daily or mid-week moisture refreshers necessary.
  • Applying leave-ins products in layers produces unpredictable results; greasy and dull-looking hair may occur.

Must-do to slow moisture loss:

  • Not much, low porosity hair hangs onto moisture.

Must-do to add & maintain moisture:

  • Use gentle heat (via hair dryer/microwave) when applying leave-ins to hair
  • Use leave-ins of light/watery consistencies for product layering (LOC, LCO methods)
  • Apply leave-ins on damp hair
  • Drink your weight in water

Must-do to strengthen strands & encourage length retention:

  • Not much, tightly bound cuticle layers ensures strong strands and length retention.

Porosity is not the only determining factor in choosing a regimen or hair care products; other characteristics such as thickness of strands (thin, medium, thick) also play an important role. For example, high porosity hair typically can absorb thick products but high porosity thin strands are better off with less frequent applications of light watery products (product build-up/greasiness will occur).