Hair Poroxity RX: What Your Hair Needs

Know Thy Hair

ChelseacurlyEvery head of hair is unique. So many variables factor into what makes your hair the way it is.

Problem is a lot of us are at war with our hair.  I believe that’s because we don’t really know it. Once we get to know it, we can stop punishing it and start giving it some love. I promise you that once you do that, it’ll give you some love back!

So, now that we know our hair’s porosity, let’s give it some love, shall we?

Low Porosity

If the cuticle layers sit tightly on the hair shaft and the individual shingles overlap, your hair has low porosity. The cuticle is like impenetrable armor.

That means the keratin bonds forming the hair cortex are strong. This hair type has no problem with a protein deficiency. Hair with low porosity is:

  • Needs more moisture and less protein
  • Naturally shiny — particularly hair that is dark colored
  • Impermeable.  It wets and dries slowly
  • Resistant.  Slow to respond to chemical processes such as hair dyes, permanents and relaxers
  • Resists hair products. They tend to “sit” on the hair rather than penetrate
  • Appears strong and healthy
  • Lacks elasticity
  • Resists styling. It’s hard to curl with rollers and curling irons
  • Prone to protein build-up. Hair tends to be stiff and crunchy like straw

Low Porosity RX:

  • Use emollients such as rice bran oil, rose hip seed oil, jojoba oil and olive oil. Coconut oil is good, but it contains an enzyme that can cause dryness in some low porosity hair types
  • Nix protein conditioners and hair washes. They’ll only stiffen the hair.
  • Use humectants such as vegetable glycerine and honey.
  • Use water based hair milks not oily or butter based conditioners as they’ll slick the hair down
  • Deep condition bi-weekly with heat — heat cap, dryer or hot towel

Medium Porosity

I guess you could safely call this ‘normal’ hair. The cuticles are slightly raised allowing it absorb and retain moisture without weighing it down. It’s also

  • Balanced. In fact, this hair type has the most moisture balance
  • Elastic. This hair type has lots of body
  • Holds styles
  • Permeable. Responds normally to chemical processes but also sustains predictable damage
  • Protein/Moisture Balanced. Doesn’t need daily or weekly protein
  • Needs occasional deep conditioning … not too much or too little

Medium Porosity RX:

  • Use equal proportions of protein and moisturizers
  • Use light moisturizing co-washes
  • Use conditioners with protein such as hydrolized wheat protein, gelatin, whey or soy protein
  • Deep condition with hydrolized protein and emollient (using heat) once a month

High Porosity

Hair that’s highly porous is easy to wet and quick to dry. Porous hair sops up air moisture when the climate is humid. Hair that’s highly porous

  • Loses moisture and quickly dies out
  • Needs more protein to fill in holes in the irregular cuticle shield
  • Needs vigilant moisturizing
  • Fragile, prone to breakage and shedding.
  • Tends to look limp and dry
  • Highly permeable to chemicals and hair products
  • Non-resistant to chemical processes
  • Won’t hold styling
  • Succumbs to humidity, frizzes and reverts easily
  • Can become over moisturized

 High Porosity RX:

  • Alternate penetrating protein and moisture treatments each week
  • Use conditioning co-washes and cleansers with hydrolized protein or whey protein powder  biweekly after moisture conditioning
  • Use protein packs with hydrolized protein or gelatin
  • Use hair strengthening rinses like horsetail tea/vegetable glycerine
  • Use vitamin rich ingredients in your treatment packs
  • Use ingredients rich in fats such as avocado
  • Be vigilant about pH balance. Don’t use alkali cleansers like Castile Soap or Black Soap for cleansing as they will further ruffle your cuticles
  • Lower your cuticles with cool water rinses, chilled spritzes and aloe vera juice


Additional Sources:

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

Green Beauty Channel, Hair Porosity, Part 3,

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