Hair Triage: Take These 4 Hair Porosity Tests

You can discover your hair’s porosity with two primary tests,  according to Milady’s Standard Cosmetology. There are  others that can give you a good indication as well. Here, I discuss four tests for porosity.

Let’s Get Started

Collect shed hair you lose during hair washing or between wash days. Since healthy hair sheds between 100 to 150 strands a day (the numbers vary depending on who’s saying it). You’ll have no problem getting a sample. Make sure you take hair samples from different regions of your head: front, above the ear, crown and nape.

Hair Porosity Test #1: Testing your Hair Cuticle

Gently separate and  pull a few strands of dry hair between your thumb and forefinger. With the other hand, lightly run your thumb and forefinger up the hair shaft from end to root and back again.

Strand testing my hair.

Strand testing my hair.

If the hair is completely smooth, the cuticle sits low on the shaft and the hair has low porosity. If the hair feels rough to the touch and bumpy, the cuticle is raised and your hair is porous. Of course, if your hair is relatively smooth with some feeling of texture, it’s in the medium range of porosity.

Hair Porosity Test #2: The Water Test

This test is done with shed hair. Collect a few strands from each head region and drop into a small bowl of water. Leave it in for 3 to 4 minutes.  Time how long it takes for your hair to sink.

My hair never sank. Doesn't mean it isn't porous, though.

My hair never sank. Doesn’t mean it isn’t porous, though.

If the hair sinks quickly after a few minutes, your hair’s porosity is high. If it floats during the allotted time, it has low porosity. If it sinks slowly after 4 minutes, it’s in the medium range.

Hair Porosity Test #3: Wetting Test

According to The Science of Black Hair, one way to gauge porosity is to test the rate at which the hair becomes water saturated. This test only works on hair that’s not coated with oily hair product.

This is my version of the Wetting Test:

I suggest you try this in the bathtub. While soaking, lay back and  immerse your hair completely for 1 minute. When you raise your head from the water feel how saturated it is.  Repeat the test until the hair is soaking and note the number of times it takes to saturate.

Is it soaking? Then it’s probably highly porous. Is it damp but not soaking? Then your hair has medium porosity and it’ll probably take one more dip to saturate. Is it a little wet? It’s clearly low in porosity and will take 3 or more dips before it’s saturated.

YouTuber Kreyol Natural posted shots of her unaltered wet 4b/4c hair.

YouTuber Kreyol Natural posted shots of her unaltered wet 4b/4c hair.









Hair Porosity Test #4: The Drying Test

This is a good idea posted by the Green Beauty Channel on YouTube. However, it’s definitely a test to do in a warm bathroom.

After washing your hair, come out of the shower but don’t dry your hair and skin. Simply sit on a towel.

The idea is to compare the drying time for your skin and hair. For instance, if your skin dries before your hair, your hair has low porosity. If your hair dries around the same time your skin does, it has medium porosity. Of course, if your hair dries before your skin does, it has high porosity.

So, now that you know your hair’s porosity level, let’s talk about what that means in my next post, Hair Porosity RX.



“Properties of Hair,” L’Oreal Hair Science,

Green Beauty Channel, Hair Porosity, Part 2,

“Hair Porosity,”

“Hair Porosity Basics,”  The Science of Black Hair,