Hair porosity

Hair porosity is a crucial aspect of hair health, influencing how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture. This characteristic plays a significant role in determining the most effective hair care routine for your unique hair type. What do porosity, hair and proper curl care have to do with each other? Here I explain why and how you should determine the porosity.

What ist Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. This characteristic is primarily determined by the condition of the hair’s cuticle, the outermost layer of the hair shaft. Factors like genetics, as well as external influences such as heat styling and chemical treatments, can affect hair porosity.

The hair consists of the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. The fibrous layer and the cuticle layer are made of keratin, which are fibrous proteins. Thick hair is made up of more proteins than fine hair (another thing to keep in mind!).

When we talk about porosity of hair, it means how the cuticle is arranged to the hair marrow, that is, how much the hair marrow is protected and healthy.

It’s important to know your hair porosity, because that’s how you know how your hair absorbs and holds moisture. This is crucial for your choice of products. (By the way, here you can find my tutorial on the Curly Girl Method).

Types of Hair Porosity

There are three main categories of hair porosity:

  1. Low Porosity Hair: This type has tightly bound cuticle layers, making it challenging for moisture to penetrate or escape. Such hair often takes longer to dry, is resistant to chemical treatments, and is prone to product buildup.
  2. Medium Porosity Hair: This hair type allows a moderate flow of moisture in and out. It typically balances moisture retention well and is less prone to damage from styling and environmental factors.
  3. High Porosity Hair: Characterized by gaps in the cuticle layer, this hair type easily absorbs and loses moisture. It often dries quickly, is prone to frizz, and can feel dry due to its difficulty in retaining moisture.

How to Determine Your Hair Porosity

Understanding your hair porosity can guide you in choosing the right products and care techniques. Here are some simple tests to help determine your hair’s porosity:

The Float Test

Place clean hair strands in a glass of water. If they float, you likely have low porosity hair; if they sink, your hair is likely high porosity.

The Strand Test

Slide your fingers up a hair strand towards the scalp. If you feel bumps, you may have high porosity hair. If the strand is smooth, it suggests low porosity.

Hair Porosity

The Spray Bottle Test

Mist a section of hair with water. If the water beads up, the hair is low porosity. If it absorbs quickly, the hair is high porosity.

Tailoring Your Hair Care Routine

For Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity hair requires specific care to ensure proper moisture penetration:

  • Use light products to avoid buildup.
  • Opt for heat treatments to open up the cuticles.
  • Choose products with humectants to attract moisture.

The following products may be suitable for your hair.

For Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair is relatively easy to manage, but it still benefits from balanced care:

  • Use a gentle cleanser to maintain moisture.
  • Deep condition periodically, especially if you frequently style or color your hair.
  • Protect your hair from excessive heat and environmental damage.

For High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair needs extra nourishment and moisture:

  • Use rich, moisturizing products with added proteins.
  • Apply anti-humectants to seal the cuticles in humid conditions.
  • Rinse with lukewarm or cool water to encourage cuticle closure.

If your hair shows high porosity, you need care products with proteins. Because they form a protective layer on the hair and smooth the cuticle. These include, but are not limited to, the following ingredients:

  • Amino acid (amino acids)
  • Elastin (elastin)
  • Oat protein (oat extract)
  • Keratin (keratin)
  • Collagen (collagen)
  • Milk protein (milk)
  • Rice protein (rice protein)
  • Silk protein (silk protein)
  • Soy protein (soy protein)
  • Wheat protein (wheat protein)

The Hair Porosity can change!

Did you know that the porosity of your hair can change with your care? This result is easily achievable and I can tell you from experience of many many curly heads that most of the time with high porosity hair you will think about healthier curl care. However, it may be that individual strands of hair, mostly in the lower hair, are normal porous.


Understanding your hair’s porosity is the key to optimal hair care. Remember, every hair type is unique, and embracing your natural hair’s characteristics is essential for healthy, vibrant hair.


What is hair porosity?

Porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and hold moisture. Curls or hair in general with high porosity have a high ability to absorb moisture, but they can not hold it for a long time. While hair with low porosity has a lower ability to absorb moisture, it can hold it longer.

How do I test hair porosity?

A simple test to check the hair porosity is to place a hair in a glass of water and observe if it sinks or floats. If it sinks, you probably have low porosity hair. If it floats on the surface of the water, it is probably highly porous. If it floats anywhere in between, you probably have normal porosity.

What is low porosity hair?

Low porosity hair means that the hair cuticle lies flat and moisture has difficulty penetrating. This often results in hair that is difficult to moisturize and quickly becomes greasy.

What is high porosity hair?

High porous hair needs moisture and proteins to stay healthy. Moisture helps to hydrate the hair and smooth the cuticle, while proteins help to strengthen the hair and repair damage.

How do I know if my hair needs protein or moisture?

One indicator of whether your hair needs protein or moisture is the Elasticity Test. To do this, pull apart a strand of hair and let them snap back together. If they bounce back to their original shape quickly, you need moisture. However, if it bounces back slowly or not at all, you may need protein.

Is coconut oil good for low porosity hair?

Coconut oil can be a good option for low porosity hair as it is a lightweight oil that can penetrate the hair shaft easily. However, it is important to note that not all hair types react the same way to coconut oil, and some people may experience dryness and brittleness from using it. It’s always best to do a patch test and see how your hair responds before using it regularly.

Is rice water good for low porosity hair?

Rice water is a great option for low porosity hair as it helps to hydrate and strengthen the hair. The amino acids and vitamins in rice water can penetrate the hair shaft, making it a great option for those with low porosity hair.

What does high porosity hair look like?

High porosity hair often appears dry, frizzy, and dull. It may feel rough or brittle to the touch and can be difficult to manage. High porosity hair is often the result of damage from heat styling, chemical treatments, or harsh products.

Does high porosity hair need protein?

Yes, high porosity hair often benefits from protein treatments as it helps to strengthen and repair the hair. However, it’s important to be careful not to overdo it with protein treatments as too much can lead to further damage and breakage.

How to moisturize low porosity hair daily?

Moisturizing low porosity hair can be challenging as the hair shaft is often resistant to moisture. To moisturize low porosity hair daily, it’s best to use lightweight, water-based products that can penetrate the hair shaft, such as leave-in conditioners, moisturizing sprays, and water-based gels. It’s also important to use heat to open up the hair cuticle before applying products, such as using a steamer or applying products to damp hair and using a hooded dryer.

Profilbild Laura
About the author

I've been a curly girl since I was little. 💝 But it wasn't until I discovered the right curl care for me that I learned to understand my curls. I'm happy to pass all this on to you - so that you too can learn to love your curls.

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