I know most naturals are concerned with hair type and hair products when first going natural, but there are quite a few things that are super important when going natural. First off, knowing your hair and what it needs are important and one of the best ways to figure that out is to understand what hair porosity it, and where your hair falls on the spectrum.
What is hair porosity, you ask? Let’s discuss what it is, what the three types there are and then we can adequately share how this helps you on this journey.
What is hair porosity and why do I need to know this?
Porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and holds moisture, oils and even chemicals like hair color and hair straighteners like the creamy crack. Your hair’s porosity is directly related to the health of your hair. How porous are the strands of your hair will effect how much moisture gets in, leaves out and can prevent damage. Knowing your hp is necessary to know how certain products, procedures and techniques will effect your hair.
There are three types: Low, Medium and High
There are three types of HP, high, medium and low. While the middle gets neglected because it is considered “normal”, high gets the biggest bad rap because it is considered “damaged hair” or hair that needs assistance the most. Here’s a breakdown:
Low Porosity Hair
Hair with low porosity has the hardest time getting moisture, oils and even chemicals in because there is a tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales. What is good about this type is it will hold the moisture in very well. This is why some have a harder time keeping hair moisturized or taking on new hair color.
People suffering from low porosity strands often need to steer clear of heavy oils and products that will just sit on the hair and keep moisture from penetrating the cuticle. Even though we are heading into winter and many are opting for heavier products, women with low porosity hair need to lean towards lighter products and oils.
Medium Porosity (Normal)
Medium porosity is the middle of the road and requires the requires the least amount of maintenance of all three. The cuticle layer is less tight and allows just enough moisture in and retains it well. This means you are in the middle of the road when it comes to haircare on most accounts with this hp. Your hair will absorb moisture well, keep it in, and when using hair color your hair opens up to take it in well, and closes after nicely.
Just know that normal hp can become damaged by those hair styling techniques too and become high porosity hair. Caring for your hair properly when coloring, using heat styling and keeping hair moisturized all helps to stave off damage.
High Porosity Hair
High porosity can be either inherent or from damage as the strands with this type of hair have gaps and holes in the hair’s cuticle. This is often from over chemical processing from straighteners or color or from heat damage. The problem is not getting moisture in but keeping it in as the raised cuticle can receive as much as it can loose.
Because it can let too much in it is more prone to frizz and tangling and because it can be lost so easily, sealants are necessary to capture it and keep it. It also takes color really well (other chemicals too) so over-processing can occur easily. I must share that I suffer from high HP and have learned how to deal with it really well. Check out a post on how I handle it.
Each one has it’s own challenges with haircare including styling and there are certain products that work better than others according to your HP. The biggest takeaway from this post is figuring out which HP you have and keep that in mind when buy hair products,hair styling and most of all, using hair color and other chemicals and using direct heat on your tresses. All of those factor in to the porosity of your strands and can effect them negatively.
I am a big proponent of trial and error when it comes to going natural and learning what your hair needs. I’m sorry, but there is no way around this but this makes for a well educated natural while in this journey. Instill good hair care practices and don’t overdo the heat, chemicals or neglectful with moisturizing your strands and doing deep conditionings with heat on washday. All I am saying is be kind to your hair and your hair will be super kind to you!