How much moisture does your hair absorb?


Have you ever wondered why what others swear to be a miracle hair product hardly works on yours? The answer has to do with a term called “porosity,” which is the measure of the hair’s ability to absorb moisture.

According to a piece by health and beauty writer Carol Belanger [] understanding your hair porosity is an essential step in selecting the right hair care products for your hair.

Understanding your hair porosity is an essential step in selecting the right hair care products for your hair PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKME PHILIPPINES

She further explained, “Porosity is determined by the condition of the hair’s cuticle layer (the overlapping scales of the hair shaft), and is rated as low, normal, and high. A good analogy would be to consider your hair like a sponge. When the sponge is new it is very porous and absorbs water thus it has good porosity. On the other hand, an old sponge where the tiny holes have been damaged does not absorb water as well as it used to.”

Low porosity hair is described in the article as “resistant to hair coloring and perms and must be softened to open the cuticle layers prior to a treatment.” As such, deep conditioning products and products rich in moisture and/or products that contain humectants are recommended to attract moisture to the hair.

High porosity hair on the other hand “has open cuticle layers and absorbs moisture and color treatments more easily.” Recommended products for this type of hair are those with natural plant based oils, and mildly acidic rinse. Belanger warns that sulfate-based surfactants to prevent dullness.

Finally, normal hair porosity “is somewhere in the middle and requires the least amount of maintenance as it will allow moisture to pass in the hair shaft as needed.” Those with normal hair porosity are the lucky ones whose hair will effect exactly what hair treatments promise.

“However,” cautioned Belanger, “note that repeated chemical processes can change the normal porosity of your hair by damaging the cuticle layer.”

Finally, she outlined three different tests to determine hair porosity in the hopes that their results will serve as an effective guide choosing the right hair products.

Test 1: When washing your hair notice how long it takes for your hair to become saturated and fully wet. Hair that wets easily is porous, much like a new sponge. There is also a possibility that your hair could be covered with too many hair care products such as oils and conditioners. Additionally, consider how long it takes your hair to dry, hair that dries quickly is porous as the cuticle layers are open and allow air flow.

Test 2: Wash and condition your hair as normal. Towel dry (do not add any other products). Gather one strand of hair and run your index finger and thumb along the shaft starting from the end of the hair strand to the root. Low porosity will feel slick, normal porosity will feel smooth, and high porosity you will feel catches as you move your fingers down the hair shaft.

Test 3: Take a few strands of hair (from comb or hair brush) and place in a bowl of water. If the hair sinks to the bottom of the bowl in less than a minute or, it is porous. If only a part of the strand sinks you your hair is porous in certain areas and this is quite common.


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