Natural hair can be hard enough as it is depending on thickness, length and the time you have available to deal with the care of your strands, but add high porosity levels into the mix and you have a whole new game to deal with! Let’s just say high porosity levels don’t make the management of your hair any easier, individuals who may have high porosity strands may be thinking “tell me something I don’t know”. So with that being said maybe I can. Stay with me as I breakdown the three levels of hair porosity (low, normal and high), and offer a few helpful tips that will ensure some successful results in maintaining your hair!
Low porosity hair is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is too compact and does not allow moisture to enter or leave the hair shaft. If you take a strand of your hair the shaft is overlapping scales which make up the outer layer of that strand, within that strand is your cortex. Hair with a low porosity level is more difficult to process and more resistant to chemicals also low porosity hair tends to reject product rather absorb it. This explains why an individual might have to wash their hair more frequently, because they experience much more buildup because the products will just sit on top of the strands rather than being absorbed by them.
Normal porosity hair is when the cuticle is compact and permits moisture to pass through the shaft into the cortex as necessary, but does not allow too much moisture (water) to penetrate the cortex, which means strands at normal levels are capable of absorbing 30% of its weight in water.
Now High porosity is irreparable damage to the cuticles of your hair shaft which is usually from the direct result of chemicals, too much heat and harsh treatment to your strands. The damage creates holes and spaces along your hair shaft. High porosity levels are capable of soaking up drastically higher amounts of water about 10-20% more than normal or low porosity hair. This can straight up spell disaster for your strands when wet, because the weight of the water absorbed by your hair can cause you to lose too much elasticity, which leads to breakage because of too much water weight stretching the strands beyond their comfort zone. So this is a good example of someone who might want to try dry detangling (with oils or butters) because regardless of hair type, all hair is at its weakest state when wet because of some loss of elasticity due to water weight.
Strand Water Glass Test
To find out the porosity of your hair I found a helpful test on KisforKinky.com where you take a strand of your hair (make sure your hair is free of any product because if not you will not reveal true results) and place it in a sink full of water (cold water is fine) or I tested my strand in a clear glass because for me it was easier to see. Normal to low porosity strands will float, but if your hair is of high porosity it will sink to the bottom of the glass from doubling over in its weight and becoming too heavy to float. (She also suggests leaving the strand in for about 5-8 minutes to see if it’s floating or not.)
*If you are testing your hair for the first time and finding out your strands are high porosity fear not here are three tips that may help you maintain high porosity strands. Also the individual strand can have multiple porosity levels.
Tip 1: Minimal to no Heat
Your cuticles have already been compromised and you are only risking breakage by using too much heat, in some cases any heat at all. Applying heated tools to your hair naturally absorbs moisture from your strands, and for high porosity strands this is absolutely treacherous ground that shouldn’t even be treaded upon. So if you are looking to maintain length with high porosity levels please stay clear of heat. Also remember improper use of heat on your hair could only take one time to cause irreparable damage to your strands.
Tip 2: Dry Detangling.
Now since high porosity strands equal weak hair, wet detangling may not be an option for you. Wet hair regardless of hair type is at its weakest state when wet because of some loss of elasticity due to water weight. Then add on top of that the stress that is enforced when you are pulling on your strands to detangle knots from your strands. High porosity strands plus wet hair most likely equal breakage under the strain of water weight and detangling, no matter how careful you may be! So dry detangling could definitely be a solution for you. Just remember when you dry detangle use your favorite oils, butters or both to aid in an easier detangling process (use as much oil as needed to give your strands plenty of slip).
Tip 3: Finger Detangling
Possessing normal porosity strands I am utterly in love with this method and for individuals with high porosity strands this could help you see a huge improvement in length and density of your hair as well. Since your fingers are a part of you they literally can feel more tangles within your hair, that you may be able to detangle that a comb being an inanimate object might simply break those strands, and especially if your strands are high porosity you need all the edge you can get. Now if you don’t want to completely throw away the use of the wide tooth comb just a little “good old fashion finger action” on a tangled section of hair before you use that wide tooth comb could decrease the amount of hair you lose after your detangling session.
If you have high porosity hair your strands can survive but the only way to truly repair high porosity strands is too cut them due to damage but if that is not an option for you, just make sure you implement a regular routine that really places moisture into your hair since high porosity strands not only can absorb moisture quickly but lose moisture just as fast.