These days, the natural hair community in general throws around the term “hair type” a lot. Everybody’s asking everybody what their hair type is, especially their favorite hair influencers, in an effort to achieve the same amazing results they have gotten with their hair. But there’s a problem. The term, “hair type,” or the action of “hair typing” as we have been using it, refers only to one’s curl pattern. That’s all.
Knowing your curl pattern alone is not going to help you make the best choice regarding product selection and how you should go about your regimen. If you want to get into your actual hair type, there are other characteristics about your strands that are just as, if not more, important like porosity. The difference between our hair retaining moisture and always being dry has much to do with our hair’s porosity level. If you’ve heard this term but aren’t exactly sure why you should even care about it, we’re here to help!
When something is porous, it has the ability to absorb moisture. Think of a sponge. In its dry state, it can easily soak up water in order to perform the job it was made to do. When it comes to hair, the same thing applies, only everyone’s hair has different levels of porosity or ability to absorb and retain moisture.
Let’s walk through a few examples:
When you apply product to your hair, let’s say an oil or cream, do you find that it just sits on your strands? Maybe, while your hair may appear to be moisturized (i.e. it has a sheen or shine to it) it still feels dry? Then your hair may have a low porosity level. This means your hair’s outer layer, the cuticle, is tightly closed and doesn’t easily allow moisture in.
Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum. If you find that no matter how much you moisturize your hair, it always feels dry, as if you did nothing, then your strands may very well be highly porous. The cuticle layer is raised so high that just as fast as moisture is absorbed, it comes right on out. Moisture goes in quickly but isn’t retained, so you end up with dry hair.
Think of the cuticle layer of the hair as shingles on a roof. When the shingles lay flat, rain does not affect the house, and it just slides right off. But if they’re not laid properly or have gaps in between, rainwaters can easily seep in.
If you don’t seem to have any issues retaining moisture, good for you! Either you stumbled upon a routine and products that work in your favor or your hair has normal porosity and can easily absorb and retain moisture for a time.
If you’re not exactly sure where you fit in here, there are two easy ways to test your hair’s porosity:
Depending on what you’ve got going on with your hair like permanent color or some level of damage in certain areas, the porosity level may be different in those spots.
But you’re probably thinking, “that’s great. But what do I do with all this info?!”
With low porosity hair (mostly closed cuticle layer), using a steamer or your own body heat by using a plastic cap while deep conditioning or along with our moisturizers will help to open up the cuticle layer to allow the moisture into the strand.
If your test reveals that you’re on the high porosity end (mostly open/raised cuticle layer), protein treatments or products that contain protein like our Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner can help to fill in any gaps in the cuticle and help you retain moisture.
Using heavier products like those contained in our Pomegranate & Honey Collection and sealing with an oil like our Mint Almond Oil can also help hair that’s highly porous lock in moisture longer. And, as we know, retaining moisture helps you retain length and makes for overall healthy hair.
So, if you find that your hair is always dry, you may be in one of these categories. Hopefully, these tidbits will help you on the way to the hair you’ve always wanted!What is Hair Porosity and Why You Should Care?