Hair Porosity: Characteristics and Care

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Let’s talk about hair porosity and how it affects the characteristics and care of your hair.

Low Porosity Hair: Characteristics and Care

  • Difficulty absorbing moisture
  • Resistant to chemical processing
  • Lengthy drying time
  • Prone to build up from conditioners and styling products
  • Sensitivity to proteins (for some)

Low porosity hair thrives on moisture. The trick is to get it into the cuticle which is a difficult task as the cuticle layers are closed. There are different approaches but some favorites include using heat with your deep conditioner and using baking soda in your regimen.

  • Heat: Opens the cuticle layers and allows for better water absorption. After washing your hair apply your deep conditioner. Place a plastic cap over your hair and steam under a hooded dryer, steamer, or thermal cap for 20-30 minutes.
  • Baking Soda: Raises the hair’s cuticle thus allowing the water to penetrate the hair shaft. Some naturalists like to add it to their shampoo or to their deep conditioner. While others use a baking soda rinse in lieu of shampoo.

At the styling stage of your regimen, use the LCO (liquid/leave-in, cream, oil) method, not the LOC (liquid/leave-in, oil, cream) method. Oil is a sealant and should be used on low porosity hair as the last step. Lighter oils work best for this hair type.

Use water-based products for your conditioners, leave-ins, and styling aids (such as hair milks). Try to avoid heavy butters that can produce product build-up on low porosity hair.

High Porosity Hair: Characteristics and Care

  • Too porous – absorbs and loses moisture very quickly.
  • Damaged – can be the result of overprocessing, environmental exposure, heredity
  • Can be easily overprocessed causing more damage and breakage
  • Prone to frizzing and tangling
  • Quick-drying time

While it is very easy to get moisture into high porosity hair, it is also very easy to lose moisture. High porosity naturals complain that by the end of the day their hair is dry and out of control.

The more important concern with high porosity hair is keeping the moisture in. Again there are several ways to go about this. Layering products, using a sealant, and using protein treatments are probably the most essential points.

Layering: Similar to layering your clothes to keep warm during the winter months, layering product on your hair has a similar effect with locking moisture in. Following the L.O.C method, you can start out with a leave-in, follow with an oil, and follow with cream and/or butter or pomade.

Sealant: As the name indicates, sealants trap moisture into your hair. For those with thick hair, common sealants used for high porosity include heavy oils such as olive oil and castor oil. You can also use butters or pomades infused with oil. Fine/thin hair may be weighed down by the use of heavy oils or butters. You may need to use a lighter oil or cream to seal such as grapeseed oil, milks, or lotions.

Protein Treatments: This will help build up the strength of your hair thus protecting against further damage. Do protein treatments as often as you think your hair needs.

Normal Porosity Hair: Characteristics and Care

  • Absorbs and maintains moisture easily
  • Holds styles well
  • Takes well to processing

This hair type is ideal. You can use products that work best for your hair. There are no definitive best care practices that apply to your hair type. But you must ensure to continually monitor your hair to evaluate its needs.

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