Hair Porosity 101: What It Is and How to Manage It

Hair's porosity is a key element in crafting an effective hair care routine. 

What is Hair Porosity? Hair porosity refers to your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. It is determined by the hair's outer layer, known as the cuticle, and can be categorized into three main types: low porosity, normal porosity, and high porosity.


We'll guide you through simple tests to identify your hair porosity at home. Understanding whether your hair has low, normal, or high porosity is crucial for selecting the right products and treatments.


The hair shaft's cuticle, which is the outermost layer of each hair strand, can open or close based on various factors. The cuticle consists of overlapping scales that resemble shingles on a roof. These scales can be lifted or flattened, affecting the overall condition of the hair shaft.

Factors that can open the hair cuticle:

  1. Heat: High temperatures, such as those from hot styling tools like straighteners and curling irons, can cause the cuticle to open. This is why heat protectants are often recommended to minimize damage during styling.

  2. Alkaline Solutions: Products with a high pH, such as some types of hair dyes and chemical treatments, can raise the hair's cuticle. This is a necessary step in many hair coloring processes, allowing the color to penetrate the hair shaft.

  3. Mechanical Damage: Rough handling, aggressive brushing, and excessive friction can contribute to cuticle damage, causing the scales to lift.

Factors that can close the hair cuticle:

  1. Cool Water Rinse: Rinsing your hair with cool water after washing helps to close the cuticle. This is because cool water constricts the hair shaft, sealing the scales and promoting shine.

  2. Acidic Solutions: Products with a lower pH, like some types of conditioners and apple cider vinegar rinses, can help close the cuticle. This can make the hair smoother and more manageable.

  3. Protein Treatments: Protein-based treatments can temporarily fill gaps in the cuticle, providing a smoother surface and aiding in cuticle closure.

Understanding how to open or close the cuticle is essential in maintaining hair health. For instance, opening the cuticle may be necessary for certain treatments, but leaving it open for an extended period can lead to moisture loss and damage. Balancing these factors contributes to an effective hair care routine tailored to your hair's needs.

Grasping the porosity of your hair extends beyond product selection—it's a game-changer in maintaining overall hair health. Armed with this knowledge, you can craft a targeted care routine that addresses your hair's specific needs. For instance, considering sun exposure, low porosity hair may be more prone to product buildup under the sun's rays, necessitating protective styles or lightweight products. On the other hand, high porosity hair, vulnerable to sun damage and moisture loss, benefits from UV-protective products and deep conditioning treatments. Additionally, awareness of your hair's porosity aids in combatting environmental stressors like dirt and pollutants. By tailoring your care routine to fortify the hair shaft against external aggressors, you not only enhance its resilience but also promote long-term health and vitality. Embracing this understanding is akin to providing a shield against the elements, ensuring your hair remains radiant and damage-resistant.

Determining Your Hair Porosity Now

To understand your hair's porosity, you can perform simple tests at home. These tests are crucial for identifying whether your hair has low, normal, or high porosity, enabling you to make informed choices in your hair care routine.

The Float Test: Take a strand of clean hair and drop it into a bowl of water. Observe how it behaves. If it floats on the water's surface, your hair likely has low porosity. If it sinks slowly, your hair is of normal porosity. Rapid sinking indicates high porosity.

The Slip 'n' Slide Test: Slide your fingers up a strand of hair from the tip towards the scalp. If you feel little bumps along the way, your hair likely has high porosity, as lifted cuticles create a rough texture. If your fingers glide smoothly, your hair is probably of normal or low porosity.

The Spray Bottle Test: Spritz a section of hair with water and observe how it reacts. If the water beads up and sits on the hair's surface, it suggests low porosity. If the water is quickly absorbed, your hair likely has high porosity. If it absorbs water at a moderate pace, your hair is of normal porosity.

By performing these simple tests, you gain valuable insights into your hair's porosity, allowing you to tailor your hair care routine to its specific needs.

Hair Care Tips Based on Porosity

Understanding your hair's porosity level is crucial for tailoring a hair care routine that meets its specific needs. Here are practical tips based on your hair's porosity:

Low Porosity Hair:

  1. Pre-Conditioning with Heat: Low porosity hair tends to resist moisture absorption. Pre-conditioning with heat, like using a warm towel or a hooded dryer, can help open the cuticles, allowing for better product penetration.

  2. Lightweight Products: Opt for water-based, lightweight hair products that won't weigh down your strands. These products are easily absorbed and won't contribute to buildup.

  3. Clarifying Shampoos: Use clarifying shampoos occasionally to prevent product buildup. This helps maintain a clean and receptive surface for moisture.

Normal Porosity Hair:

  1. Balanced Moisture: Your hair is naturally adept at retaining moisture, so focus on maintaining a balanced routine. Regular deep conditioning treatments and a moderate use of styling products work well.

  2. Protein Treatments: Incorporate protein treatments into your routine to support the structure of the hair shaft. This helps maintain the health and resilience of normal porosity hair.

  3. Varied Products: You have the flexibility to experiment with a variety of products. Find what works best for your hair texture and styling preferences.

High Porosity Hair:

  1. Deep Conditioning: High porosity hair often needs intense moisture. Deep conditioning treatments, using products with ingredients like shea butter and argan oil, can help nourish and strengthen your hair.

  2. Leave-In Conditioners: Seal in moisture with leave-in conditioners to create a protective barrier. This helps minimize moisture loss throughout the day.

  3. Gentle Detangling: Handle your hair with care, especially when detangling. Use a wide-tooth comb and start from the tips, working your way up to prevent unnecessary breakage.

Incorporating these tips into your routine based on your hair's porosity, you can enhance its health and appearance. Remember that consistency is key, and feel free to adjust your regimen as needed..