Believe it or not, there’s actually a lot of science behind all of your gorgeous curls, kinks, and waves! And knowing some of this curly-girl science can play a major role in the maintenance of healthy and happy hair.
Hair porosity is one trait in particular that can really dictate the way you treat and handle your curls. So, if you’re new to the curly hair journey and have no clue what porosity is, or you just want a refresher, you’ve come to the right place!
Let’s dive in...
Hair Porosity: The Basics
So what the heck is porosity, anyway? Whenever you think of porosity, it helps to think about a sponge soaking up water. Why? Because porosity refers to an object’s ability to absorb and retain moisture.
For example, sponges are extremely porous and will absorb a lot of water, while something impermeable like plastic or glass won't soak up any. But what does this have to do with your curls? Different people have different porosity types, and your curls can soak up and retain more or less water depending on how porous they are.
Curly girls can either have low-, medium-, or high-porosity hair. The major differences all have to do with the structure and health of your hair.
If you took a microscope to your curls, you could actually see the outermost layer, aka the cuticle. It actually looks pretty cool, because you can see the layers of your hair packed together kind of like fish scales!
If you have low-porosity curls, then these cuticles are packed very tightly together. That’s why low-porosity hair can be a little tricky: It naturally repels water, oil, and product. However, when you finally do get products to penetrate low-porosity hair, they aren’t going anywhere! The tightly packed cuticles will help to seal everything in. Amazing, right?
Curly girls with medium porosity curls have hair that is easy to penetrate with water and products. Their cuticle layer is slightly open, which allows their curls to retain moisture pretty well, resulting in sleek and manageable kinks, curls, and waves.
You’d think that high-porosity hair should be an amazing thing! Of all of the hair types, high-porosity hair soaks up moisture and products the quickest. However, it also loses everything it drinks up just as easily! Why? Because high-porosity hair has a lottttt of gaps in the cuticles (most likely due to damage from stressors like heat, chemicals, and general styling).
So any work you do to get moisture into the hair shaft will quickly be undone, resulting in curls that may look dry and damaged.
Do you want to learn your porosity type?
Depending on their hair’s porosity, curly girls will have to take care of their hair a little differently in order to keep it healthy and moisturized.
Wondering how to figure out your hair’s porosity? No worries, we have two pretty easy methods to help.
The Float Test: Many curlies swear by the float test. All you need to do is grab a clear glass, fill it with water, and place it on your bathroom counter. Then, pluck a strand of hair, drop it in the glass, and watch what happens.
If it sinks all the way to the bottom, you’ve got high-porosity hair! If the strand only drops to the middle of the glass, then you’ve got medium-porosity hair. If it floats on top, then you’ve got a head full of low-porosity curls!
The Mist Test: At LUS, we are huge fans of the mist test! In order for this method to work, you’ll need to start on clean, dry, product-free curls. You’ll also need to grab a spray bottle that sprays a light mist.
Now grab a section of your curls, hold the spray bottle about 6–8 inches from your hair, and spray the section. The next step is the most important — and the easiest. All you need to do is watch what happens to your curls once they’re sprayed.
If the water beads up on the hair without absorbing and/or starts to drip and roll off the hair immediately, you have low-porosity hair. If at first there are small beads of water that are then absorbed soon after, you have medium-porosity hair. If the water is immediately absorbed, you have high-porosity hair.
Porosity & Ur Curly Hair Routine
Whether you try the float or mist test (or you’ve tried both!), you should now have a pretty good idea of what porosity level your hair is!
Now, let’s talk about how to care for your unique porosity!
LOW-POROSITY HAIR TIPS
Product Distribution: Carefully section out your hair so that you can ensure that every strand is hit with your product. While doing this, make sure that the product is distributed evenly and that you’re not using too much of it; too much product can weigh down the hair.
MEDIUM-POROSITY HAIR TIPS
Curls are not naturally highly porous, so there’s a good chance you are dealing with some dryness and frizziness due to damage. No worries, we have some tips to help nourish your curls!
Deep Condition: Just because your curls drink up moisture like crazy does not mean you should skip the deep conditioner! Deep conditioning at least once a month will add strength and balance to your kinks and curls.
HIGH-POROSITY HAIR TIPS
Avoid Heat: Right now your curls are fragile. Avoid heat so you don’t suck out any more moisture.
Deep Condition Regularly: Deep conditioning will help to infuse moisture into your curls, lock it in, and strengthen the hair cuticle by filling in the gaps caused by damage.
Always Rinse with Cold Water: We know a cold shower can feel like torture for most curly girls, but it’s great for our hair! Why? Cold water actually encourages the hair cuticle to close and will help lock in the moisture. So, after deep conditioning, be sure you rinse your curls with a shot of cold water!
Ur Curls Need Love
The more you learn about them, the better you’ll be at taking care of every single curl.
So, whether you have low-, medium-, or high-porosity hair, you now have all the tips you need to kick your curl care up a notch!