One of the things that makes going natural so hard is all of the information you don't know that you don't know. When I first went natural, it was all about curl typing. Who knew that years later, that would be the least of my worries. The products we use, where we live, and our genetics tell us a lot about our hair. In fact, all of these things are key to understanding one important natural hair concept - porosity.
What is porosity? It refers to your the cuticles of your hair. If they are on the flat end or tightly packed, then the hair is low porosity. If the cuticles are raised or broken, then the hair is high porosity. And, if the cuticles are slightly raised, then the hair is medium porosity. The state of the cuticle is extremely important because the cuticle is the hair shaft's protective layer. It determines how your hair will absorb moisture and oils, which can help you figure out what ingredients to use for your hair.
This may comes as a shock to a few naturals, but there isn't really an at-home method to test your porosity. Instead, you should depend on other, more reliable factors.
Because the cuticles tightly packed, it can be difficult for low porosity hair to absorb moisture. If you relate to any of these:
- Hair hasn't been dyed or chemically altered.
- Hair has been dyed within 3 levels of natural color
- Rarely use heat styling tools
Then you may be a good candidate for having low porosity hair. Here are some more clues:
- Products sit on top of/coat your hair and don't soak in well.
- Heavy products, oils, and butters make your hair feel dry and greasy.
- It takes ages to completely drench your hair with water.
- When wetting your hair, it takes a long time for your texture to show and/or your curls to shrink.
- Your hair thrives in humid weather.
High porosity hair is often thought of as damaged hair, but that isn't necessarily true. The most important thing to know about porosity is sometimes that's just the way your hair is. With high porosity hair, the raised cuticles allow moisture to flow throw easily. The problem is, it flows out just as quickly. It has the same effect when the cuticle is broken or cracked; this is a damaged cuticle.
If your hair has been bleached, heat damaged, exposed to excessive heat you may have high porosity hair. Here are some more clues:
- Your hair soaks in products like a sponge.
- Your hair is thirsty all the time
- Your hair needs to be sealed with oils or butters.
- Your hair frizzes easily, especially in humidity.
- Chronic split ends and knots
If neither of these really sound like you, then you may have medium porosity hair. The cuticle allows for hair to absorb and retain moisture equally. People with medium porosity hair may have to work a little extra to maintain the right protein and moisture balance.
Now that you know, you're all ready to take our quiz! Find out more things you didn't know you didn't know.