If you’re a curly girl, you have probably come across the term “Porosity” a thousand times, but if you’re new to the whole curly girl movement you’re probably wondering what it means. Well here’s a detailed breakdown of all you need to know about porosity and how it affects your hair.


Simply put, porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. It is affected by the flexible outer hair layer called the cuticle, which determines how easily moisture passes in and out of your hair. Knowing your hair’s porosity can help you choose the right products to keep your hair well-moisturized, strong & shiny.


How can you figure out your porosity?

There are two simple methods:


  • The cup test: Place one or two strands of clean hair (right after the shower and before you add any product to it) in a cup of water. Gently push the hair down to ensure “surface tension” does not give you false results and then leave the strands for a good 3-5 minutes and see if they sink, float or lay in the middle of the cup. Accordingly, you’ll find out if your hair is high porosity, low porosity or normal respectively.


  • Observing your hair’s behavior: If your hair gets wet quickly and dries quickly, then your is high porosity. This means your hair absorbs water easily but also lets it out just as easily. On the other hand, if your hair doesn’t get wet easily and dries slowly, then it’s low porosity. This means, it’s difficult for your hair to absorb water but it locks moisture in quite well.


Now, let’s delve a little deeper into each type of porosity and how to care for it.

Low Porosity hair (LPH)


What are its characteristics?

  • Curls take a long time to dry.
  • Products tend to build upon curls rather than get absorbed.
  • Natural oils don’t easily penetrate.
  • Difficulty absorbing moisture.
  • Sensitivity to proteins (for some).


How to care for it?

  • Use heat in your deep conditioning treatments, using a warm towel or shower cap, to help the hair better absorb the products.
  • Don’t put too much product on your hair, especially scalp.
  • Apply products to damp, not drenched hair (to avoid frizz).
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo and rinses such as apple cider vinegar or baking soda treatments to rid your hair of product build-up.
  • For your styling routine use the LCO (liquid/leave-in, cream, oil) method to application. Oil is a sealant and should be used on low porosity hair as the last step, after you’ve applied all your styling products.
  • Use water-based products for your conditioners, leave-ins and styling aids (such as hair milks).
  • Try to avoid heavy butters that can produce product build up.
  • Use warm water to open cuticles and use cold water to close cuticles.
  • Use less protein. Check the ingredients on the products you use and avoid products that contain a lot of protein.
  • Use less/lighter oils: Argan oil, and jojoba oil.
  • Use humectants religiously: glycerin, and honey.


Normal Porosity Hair (NPH)


What are its characteristics?

  • Absorbs and maintains moisture easily.
  • Holds styles well.
  • Curls are full of bounce and elasticity.
  • Requires very little maintenance.
  • Can be colored with good results.


How to care for it?

  • Continue to do regular deep conditioning treatments to maintain good product absorption.
  • There are no definitive best care practices that apply to your hair type. But you must ensure to continually monitor your hair to evaluate its needs.


High Porosity Hair (HPH)


What are its characteristics?

  • Needs more products to hold hair.
  • Curls often look and feel dry.
  • Curls most often are frizzy.
  • Curls dry quickly.
  • Curls absorb and lose moisture very quickly.
  • Prone to tangling.


How to care for it?

  • Use minimal heat. It’s best to air dry your hair, if possible and never use hot water.
  • Incorporate regular deep conditioning treatments into your routine.
  • Rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle and prevent frizz.
  • Use protein treatments every 4-6 weeks. This will help build up the strength of your hair.
  • Follow the L.O.C method: leave-in/liquid, oil and finally follow with a cream and/or a butter to lock in moisture.
  • Use heavy oils such as olive oil and castor oil if your hair is thick and a little coarse.
  • Use lighter oils such as grape seed oil and coconut oil for fine/thin hair.
  • Avoid chemical treatments and hair dyes.
  • Use butter and creams to style.
  • Use Aloe Vera religiously.


And that’s it, ladies!

Just remember, your hair porosity can change. Your roots can grow to be a different porosity to the rest of your hair. So make sure to always ‘listen’ to what your hair needs and you’ll enjoy more good hair days than ever before!