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Why Knowing Your Hair’s Porosity is More Important Than Knowing Your Hair Type

Avatar • Jun 8, 2014

by Christine of Amor Artistry

BGLH3

Hair Typing

Hair typing can be defined by the texture of your hair. Textures can range from 1 to 4c; in other words straight to curly. You can easily find out your hair type by examining your own hair and comparing it to any hair typing chart. Hair typing charts can easily be found on any hair blog or during a quick google search.

Hair porosity

Porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb in water and moisture. Porosity is broken down into different categories.

1) High Porosity

The cuticles are lifted; this allows moisture to get in easily and also let out very easily. To find out if you have high porosity hair, take a strand of hair and drop it in a cup of water that is room temperature. If the hair drops to the bottom the bottom of the cup immediately, then you have high porosity strands. All this means is gear more towards products that help keep in that moisture, such as leave in conditioners.

2) Low Porosity

The cuticles in the hair are shut tight and moisture is not easily taken in by these types of strands. With low porosity hair, you may find build up on your strands. Have you ever watched a YouTube video and heard, “don’t worry; the white stuff/product residue will dry and go away”? Have you noticed that after doing the style you look at your hair hours later and the product is still there? You may have low porosity hair. To test this, take a strand of hair and drop it in a glass of room temperature water. If the strand takes more than a few minutes to sink then you have low porosity hair.

Let it go!

Now that you know the difference, you can let the hype of hair typing go! Yes, I said it. Let it go!

Instead of focusing on the hype of hair typing, you may want to focus on the actual health of your hair. Nothing is more important than healthy hair! We all know the journey to natural is not an easy one. Knowing the porosity of your hair can make it that much easier for you. This can also help further navigate anything from drying time, to which products and regimens work best for you!

Christine Amor is natural hair blogger from New York. With her own YouTube channel, she is very familiar to the social media side of natural hair. You can connect with her by clicking the following links below: www.youtube.com/AmorArtistry www.instagram.com/Amorartistry

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Which is more important – Hair typing? Porosity? or Density? | Kinky Curly Coily QueensDianeBakka KarriemUrban Health GoddessAngela W Recent comment authors
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Adina
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Adina

You forgot normal/medium porosity.

If you have this type of hair, you have to do the least in terms of retaining moisture. But it’s still worth mentioning.

Jasmine
Guest
Jasmine

The cup of water test isn’t that accurate though. Surface tension will cause most hairs to just sit on top of the water, regardless of porosity.

LBell
Guest
LBell

THANK YOU! I’ve done this test off and on over the years and I have yet to see a strand sink. I’ve even left a strand in a glass of water for 24 hours…nope.

Porosity is the one hair characteristic I completely ignore.

ive
Guest
ive

I’ve done it before. I have low porosity hair. I know because when doing the test, I push the strand down to the bottom and swirl it around a bit. It floats to the top and stays there. My roommate did the same thing and it never came up. Def worth a try.

Shari
Guest
Shari

Great, so I have low porosity. But what kind of products should I gear more towards? Even though I don’t really notice build up when I use anything…

iamnotasian
Guest
iamnotasian

some suggest a hair steamer

Robi
Guest
Robi

I agree! stop with the hair typing. Especially since so many of us have multi textured strands. Hair porosity has helped me learn and care for my hair in a much more effective way then trying to decipher my hair type.

Nubiahbella
Guest
Nubiahbella

I believe hair porosity, strands thickness, hair state ( chemically processed e.g. hair dye , texturizer etc…),scalp condition are definitely more important than hair type when choosing a product IMO.It explains why people with various hair types can use the same product. Many naturals use drugstore products not necessarily targeted to curly/kinky/coily hair yet have great result with it.

JazzWife
Guest

Very good post. Focusing on porosity is infinitely better than the letters and number of hair typing.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Guys… Honestly. Maybe Hair typing IS maybe a bit overrated, but don’t you think it has it’s place?? new naturals may look at someone’s hair and say, “Heyyyyyy, why can’t my hair do this?!” I know that when I started getting into Naturalistas on youtube, the first one I found was Simplyounique, and we have COMPLETELY different textures (I didn’t know that then). I wondered why she could do a flexi‐rod set and end up with such smooth results. I got excited and tried it, and got damp frizzy results. I didn’t understand this until I understood hair typing. Sooo…… Read more »

Elle
Guest
Elle

It has no relevance in my life. I’ve lived with, styled, cared for and known my natural hair before Andre’s system existed. That being said, I don’t care how other women describe their hair.

Returning natural meant reclaiming ownership of my identity, describing my hair any way I please. And exploring my own hair has always been my teacher, not comparing it with others. But, if comparison is useful for someone, and they want to identify as 4a,b,c or even 4‐ellaminnapea, do it and nevermind the chatter.

Urban Health Goddess
Guest

Thank you for this article! No, I don’t think “hair typing” has any real relevance in the natural hair community. It’s propelled many women of color who are natural from going from the “light skin” vs. “dark skin” ignorance to emphasizing the ignorance of “good hair” vs. “bad hair” ignorance. It’s been used as more of a way to have some naturals want to say they’re better than other because their “hair type” isn’t “as bad” as another woman’s. It’s all crap and useless. If people paid more attention to the characteristics of their hair (such as porosity, general health,… Read more »

joshlyn
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joshlyn

Shari, I have low porosity hair. I heat my products up. Lo po naturals have to use heat to open the hair cuticles. That’s why it’s a good idea to apply products while in the shower. Seems like a lot to do but it’s well worth it.

pikkonac
Guest
pikkonac

Actually isn’t it the ph that raises or lowers cuticles? If I’m remembering correctly the heat of the water doesn’t do anything as far as raising or lowering the cuticles.

Seriously
Guest
Seriously

Jasmine who posted above is correct. It should also be mentioned that any oils on the hair will cause the hair to float. The cup of water test is junk science.

Aida
Guest
Aida

There are also other tests to know hair porosity … my english sucks then you should go to see the video of GreenBeautyChannel Hair Porosity‐3 Best Ways to Test 🙂

Chanda
Guest
Chanda

I’m gonna try that hair porosity test test tonight but that hair‐typing mess is silly anyway. Many people have various textures, who wants to sit there and explain their hair types. Straight, wavy, curly, or kinky. Simple as that. BGLH, you are guilty for asking these “hair icons” their hair types too. Talking about “let it go”. Don’t be a hypocrite.

Aida
Guest
Aida

And normal porosity? I have normal porosity

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[…] porosity, hair density, strand size, and length. It’s at least a start though, that’s for sure. Why Knowing Your Hair’s Porosity is More Important Than Knowing Your Hair Type | Black Girl wi… I worried so much about my curl type in the beginning because I thought I would have much better […]

silkynaps
Guest
silkynaps

When my hair is moisturized, it’s silky. When it’s not moisturized, it’s cottony. Moisture in my hair lasts a day or two. Maybe more depending on the humidity. If I apply products to wet hair, they absorb. If I don’t, they won’t. I don’t need a porosity test to know that. I dig that people want to understand the science of hair, but most of what’s right with my hair is the result of COMMON SENSE and simplicity. Anything that’s ever been wrong with my hair is the result of USER ERROR or worrying too much about the wrong thing.… Read more »

Deb
Guest
Deb

I wouldn’t even say ugly hairstyles, I’d say unflattering hairstyles. But then again, if the person looks in the mirror and loves what they see, that is more important than anything and I will not tear that person down.

Elle
Guest
Elle

I have low porosity hair. I read negatives from time to time so here are MY positives:
super‐smooth cuticle in both directions
no tangling and rare knots
little to no breakage
hair is resilient and protected longer against harm
fewer $$$ products because many just sit
easy maintenance
thrives on humectants and me drinking a lot of water!

Angela W
Guest
Angela W

Elle, I agree with everything you said, except, about the knots. I prone to fairy knot, but I spray my ends with Oyin Handmade Juices & Berries Herbal Leave‐in & now I have NO MORE fairy knots(I have fine hair & that may make the difference too)!!

XhosaGoddess
Guest
XhosaGoddess

Do I try this porosity test on product free hair or moisturizers/ shampoos won’t affect the results?

Aida
Guest
Aida

You have to try this test on dry and clean hair

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

Honestly, I don’t feel porosity is that significant of a factor in my hair care. The cup of water test is completely inaccurate, as has been previously mentioned, and I don’t feel like forking out $$$ to get my porosity professionally tested. I’m pretty much of the same mind as silkynaps upthread. Furthermore, as a multitextured natural, I find that different sections of my hair with the same curl pattern (and with different patterns too) have different textures and behave differently with products…so what would be the point of trying to slap any form of one‐size‐fits‐all care on my head?… Read more »

Jacky
Guest
Jacky

Nice article, thanks for posting! My natural hair seems to be low porous, i have to wet it thoroughly and wait for it to absorb the moisture before the water gets into it.

Hannah
Guest
Hannah

But the cup of water test for porosity is not accurate at all! I encourage you to read JC’s article over at The Natural Haven debunking this method.

Angela W
Guest
Angela W

Getting tired of the debate about which is more important, hair porosity or hair typing, because, in my opinion, they are both important. Finding out that I had Low Porosity helped my to know that I needed to pre‐poo using heat, use shampoo instead of co-washing(my hair just doesn’t like co‐washing), and deep conditioning with heat after every time I shampoo helps my hair to retain moisture & the pre‐poo melts tangles away. Knowing that I have 3c/Fine hair helps me determine what products are suitable for my hair, because heavy butters/creams leave my hair weighed down. I tried using… Read more »

Bakka Karriem
Guest

My hair has a high porosity! I’m not too sure on what exactly to say about it except thzt the summer months are best for my hair because I tend to sweat oil anyway. The winter is when all of me get the blues from dry itchy skin, scalp, and hair. I have learned alot and apply it to my boys. My 2nd oldest son has course or thick straight hair. What should I do for him? Lol. Anyway, this article has taught me alot and now I rtnse my hair in cool water to try to keep moisture from… Read more »

Diane
Guest
Diane

I have low porosity hair, so I have combined my pre poo and deep conditioner, I do this oñ dry hair once a week. So far so good!!!

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[…] to the hair porosity they have then they are better able retain more length. According to BlackGirlLongHair, instead of focusing on the hype of hair typing, you may want to focus on the actual health of your […]

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