Take my hair porosity quiz to find out how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture! When you know your hair’s porosity level, it will help you to choose the right oils, shampoos and conditioners for your hair.
What is Hair Porosity?
Hair porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb and retain water and oils. If your hair cuticles are close together it is more difficult to moisture to be absorbed and your hair is more prone to dryness. If the cuticles are widely spaced on the other hand then moisture is easily absorbed but also easily lost making this hair type prone to frizz.
In the image above you can see an example of low porosity hair on the left where the cuticle layer is tightly bound with overlapping scales that lay flat. On the right you can see an example of high porosity hair where the cuticles are raised and have gaps and holes in them.
What Causes High or Low Porosity Hair?
The porosity of your hair is mostly down to genetics however styling and chemical treatments can alter your hair’s porosity level.
If you regularly use hair straighteners, wash your hair too often, or use hair dyes, this can make your hair more porous as it is damaged over time. Damaged hair is more likely to have raised and open hair cuticles which makes it more difficult for your hair to retain water. UV rays from the sun can also increase your hair’s porosity level.
How to Determine Your Hair Porosity
A quick way to do a hair porosity test is by dropping a single strand of hair into a glass of water as in the image below. If your hair cuticles are tightly bound together your hair will float near the surface as it will find it hard to absorb the water. If the cuticles are raised however or have gaps and holes, the hair will absorb the water and sink to the bottom of the glass.
Take the hair porosity quiz below to discover your hair type!
Hair Porosity Quiz
Answer each of the following questions and take a note of the number of points you score for each. At the end of the quiz you need to add up your point score for your result. Choose only one answer for each question, and pick the option that describes your hair best.
1. How would you describe the appearance of your hair?
- Very shiny & gets easily greasy (0 points)
- Very Frizzy, Dry and dull (10 points)
- It looks thin and sparse (5 points)
- Damaged with split ends (10 points)
2. What is your main hair problem?
- Too much hair falls out when I brush it (5 points)
- Humidity causes my hair to become frizzy and uncontrollable (10 points)
- My hair is so greasy I need to wash it often (0 points)
- Chemical treatments and heat have ruined my hair (10 points)
3. Does your hair tend to break easily?
- Yes (10 points)
- No (0 points)
4. Do you regularly use hair dyes or relaxers?
- Yes (10 points)
- No (0 points)
5. Would you say your hair has been heat damaged from straighteners, curling tongs, or over styling?
- Yes (10 points)
- No (0 points)
6. How long does it take for your hair to air dry?
- Very fast (10 points)
- A long time (0 points)
- Not too long (5 points)
7. Which of these statements best describes your hair?
- It’s gummy or mushy when wet (10 points)
- It’s hard for water to saturate my hair (0 points)
- My hair is easy to wash and style (5 points)
- If you scored 0-20 you have low porosity hair
- If you scored 20-40 you have medium porosity hair
- If you scored 40-60 you have high porosity hair
- If you scored 60-70 your hair is very high porosity
What are the Best Products for Your Hair?
Caring for Low Porosity Hair
If your hair’s porosity is low, products are not easily absorbed, it takes a long time for your hair to dry, and in water your hair floats. This hair type is the most prone to product buildup which can leave it feeling and looking like straw. It is also the hair type that would benefit the most from heat since heat helps to open the cuticles and allow products to be better absorbed.
General recommendations for looking after low porosity hair include:
- Use protein free products to prevent build up
- Choose lighter products like hair milks that won’t sit on your hair or leave it greasy
- Use humectants such as glycerin or honey to add hydration
- Good moisturisers include shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil
- Use moderate heat with deep conditioners to open up the cuticles
- Apply conditioner to hair that’s already wet as this makes it easier for your hair to absorb
Related: 13 Best Oils for Low Porosity Hair
Recommended Products for this Hair Type
The following products have been hand selected for low porosity hair types and do not contain any protein based ingredients. They are also rich in humectants like honey, glycerin or shea which are all excellent for this hair type.
Noughty Wave Hello Curl Defining Shampoo
The Noughty Wave Hello Curl Defining Shampoo is perfect for hair with a bound cuticle layer that’s prone to product build up. It’s free from protein based ingredients and contains avocado oil which seals in moisture.
This shampoo is recommended for both curly and wavy hair and has a fresh ocean scent.
TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask
The TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask is a deep conditioning treatment containing raw honey, aloe vera and olive oil. You may want to apply this to the hair in sections depending how long and thick your hair is. A wide tooth comb would also be helpful to distribute the product evenly through the hair strands.
This hair type needs hydration as it is not able to retain much moisture, so ensure you use good deep conditioners regularly.
Kinky-Curly Curling Custard
The Kinky-Curly Natural Styling Gel is one of the best styling products for this hair type. It locks in moisture and helps to add definition to your curls. It contains aloe vera which holds moisture and helps to improve your hair’s health by keeping it well hydrated. It works well on any curl type.
Caring for Medium Porosity Hair
If the hair porosity quiz indicates you have medium porosity hair, you probably will find in the water test that your hair strand floats, but not all the way to the surface. With medium porosity hair your hair absorbs some water but does not become saturated. This is because your cuticles aren’t too close together, but are not completely open either.
With this hair type the hair strands are able to retain moisture for a longer period of time. The hair tends to look healthy and shiny and it doesn’t take long to air dry. It also takes colour well and is easy to style. It will also hold styles for a good length of time.
If this is your hair type it will require the least amount of maintenance. Try occasional deep conditioners and avoid protein treatments. Be aware that heat and chemical treatments can damage the hair over time causing it to become more porous.
Caring for High Porosity Hair
If this is your hair type, moisture is easily absorbed by the hair but it’s also easily lost. You will find your hair sinks in a bowl of water since water seeps in through the gaps in the hair cuticles.
Having very porous hair can be down to genetics, but it may also be a result of damage from heat and styling products. This hair type is the most prone to hygral fatigue. This is when the hair becomes damaged from excessive amounts of water entering and exiting the hair cuticle. One sign of of hygral fatigue is low hair elasticity.
You may also notice your hair tends to break easily and becomes easily frizzy and dry. This hair type takes the least amount of time to dry.
General recommendations for looking after high porosity hair include:
- Use butters and oils to help heal seal the hair cuticles and moisturise the hair
- Apply protein treatments
- Leave-in conditioners will help your hair to retain moisture
- Avoid using heat on your hair and if you do always use heat protectants
- In the shower use lukewarm water instead of hot
Recommended Products for this Hair Type
If the hair porosity quiz suggested you have high porosity hair you will want to use anti-humectants if you are in a high humidity environment. Anti-humectants help to prevent your hair absorbing excess moisture from the air and becoming frizzy.
You will also want to use leave-in conditioners and protein treatments to help seal the hair cuticles and prevent your hair loosing moisture. Heavy butters also help to fill in the gaps in damaged cuticles.
The products listed below have been hand selected for high porosity hair.
Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Shampoo
The Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Shampoo was specifically formulated for very porous hair which has become rough, dry, damaged and unmanageable. The product is sulphate free and enriched with Mongongo and Hemp Seed Oils which are highly moisturising, and help to repair damage and seal the hair cuticles.
The formula also contains baobab proteins, shea butter and apple cider vinegar which help to smooth porous, rough and dry hair. If your hair has been damaged from colour treatments, perms or too much styling, this would be a good shampoo for you.
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Protein Treatment
The Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Protein Treatment helps to repair and moisturise brittle and dry hair. It contains Mafura and Baobab Oils which are good deep conditioners and help to hydrate the hair. You should smooth this product from the root to the tip of the hair shaft and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.
If you have high porosity hair it is good to use a protein treatment regularly but not on a daily basis. They work well at sealing the hair cuticles, helping your hair retain moisture and preventing frizz. My recommended protein treatment works well at repairing the hair structure if it has been damaged through heat treatments.
Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle with Silk Protein & Neem Oil
If you have hair that’s been damaged from chemical processing, the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle is perfect for your type of hair. It contains silk protein, aloe vera, neem oil, and shea butter which all help to reseal the damaged cuticles. This formula is also effective at preventing your hair from becoming frizzy in humid weather.
Open cuticles are filled in with proteins, natural oils and thick butters, leaving your hair smoother and your curls bouncy and defined. This product works well on high porosity hair of any curl pattern including wavy hair and coils.
What’s the Best Oil for Your Hair Type?
Now you know your hair porosity, and the right products for your hair type, do you want to know which natural oil best suits your hair? I have very high porosity hair and am best suited to castor oil or coconut oil due to my Ayurvedic hair type. If you want to discover which oil is right for you click here to read more about Ayurvedic hair oils and order my eBook on Ayurvedic Hair Care.
I hope this post gave you an understanding of the various hair porosity types, and you have discovered your own hair porosity level. If you have tried out any of the products I’ve recommended in this post then please leave me a comment below and let me know how you got on!