Hair porosity

What do hair porosity and proper curl care have to do with each other? In this article I will explain why you should determine the porosity. I will teach you a hair porosity test and I also created a hair porosity quiz for you to find out on the go if you have low or high porosity hair.

Hair porosity – what does it mean?

You should definitely know the porosity of your hair, because it indicates how dense the cuticle is that coats your hair.

Your 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!).

hair structure

When we talk about hair porosity, it means we are talking about how the cuticle is arranged to the hair marrow, in other words you get to know 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

Hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. Understanding your hair’s porosity is important in determining the best hair care routine and products that will work best for your hair. There are three types of hair porosity: Low, normal and high porosity hair


Low porosity hair

Low porosity hair has a tightly closed cuticle layer, which makes it difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. This means that products tend to sit on the surface of the hair instead of being absorbed, which can cause buildup and weigh down the hair. Low porosity hair may take longer to dry, and hair care products may need to be applied in smaller amounts or warmed up before applying to help penetrate the hair shaft.

If you have low porosity hair, it is recommended that you use lightweight products, such as oils and leave-in conditioners, that can easily penetrate the hair shaft. Avoid heavy, creamy products that may sit on the surface of the hair and cause buildup. It is also important to use warm water when washing your hair to help open up the cuticle layer and allow products to penetrate better.

Normal porosity hair

Normal porosity hair has a slightly raised cuticle layer, which allows moisture to enter and exit the hair shaft easily. This type of hair is easy to maintain and requires less effort to style. Hair care products are easily absorbed into the hair shaft, and hair dries at a normal rate.

If you have normal porosity hair, you can use a variety of hair care products without worrying about buildup or weighing down your hair. However, it is important to avoid using too many products, as this can still cause buildup and weigh down your hair.

High porosity hair

High porosity hair has a cuticle layer that is raised, making it easy for moisture to enter the hair shaft. However, this also means that moisture can easily escape, leaving hair prone to dryness and damage. High porosity hair is often caused by chemical treatments, heat damage, and overuse of hair care products.

If you have high porosity hair, it is important to use products that will help retain moisture in your hair. Deep conditioning treatments, hair masks, and leave-in conditioners are all great options for high porosity hair. It is also important to avoid using too much heat on your hair and to protect it from the sun and other environmental factors that can cause further damage.

In conclusion, understanding your hair’s porosity is important in determining the best hair care routine and products for your hair type. Low porosity hair requires lightweight products that can easily penetrate the hair shaft, normal porosity hair can use a variety of hair care products, and high porosity hair needs products that will help retain moisture and protect it from further damage. By understanding your hair’s porosity and using the right products, you can achieve healthy, beautiful hair.

Can the hair porosity change?

Yes, it can. It is indeed the case that hair dyes (especially bleaches), water containing chlorine or even sun and salt water can change the porosity.

How to test the porosity of your hair

There are several ways to test your hair porosity. Here I show you the simplest methods.

Water test

For this test you will need a glass of water and a single hair. Make sure that your hair is freshly washed and that you do not have any care products in your hair.

hair porosity test

How does the hair porosity water test work?

Put your hair in the water. If it remains on the surface, it has low porosity. If it sinks to the center of the water glass, your hair is normally porous. If the hair migrates to the bottom, your hair is highly porous.

Hair care for high porosity hair

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 following products may be suitable for your hair.

Conditioner with proteins:


Care for normal hair porosity

Hair with normal porosity requires a balanced mix of products with and also without proteins. I myself have had exactly this experience. At the beginning of the Curly Girl method I used a lot of moisture for my hair, products without proteins. Finally, I got the best result when I used a new product with proteins. I thought I had found THE product for me. However, after some time my hair became straw-like and hard. This showed me that I had to find the right balance between the products. Since then, I use both products with and without proteins. Meanwhile, I also notice when my hair needs what.

Conditioner without proteins:

Curl care for low porosity hair

Your low porosity hair needs increased hydration and less protein. However, make sure you use products with protein from time to time, the goal is to create the right balance for your hair.

Hair conditioner for moisturizing:

Good to know

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.

Find your perfect hair care

Do you not yet know exactly what your hair needs in terms of care? Then I recommend you to read my guide about hair care, where you can also do a hair care test and get my direct tips and product recommendations for you. If you already know what your hair is like, you can choose the right products below.


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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