Hair Type - Hair - Porosity

Hair Porosity: What It Is & Why It’s Important

Don’t know what your hair porosity is? Learn how to identify and care for it from our comprehensive guide.

Written by Ioana Moldovan
Hair Porosity

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Hair porosity is a key aspect of hair health, yet it’s often overlooked. It refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture.

Research shows that understanding your hair’s porosity can help improve its look and feel.

In fact, a survey revealed that 74% of people saw a significant improvement in their hair health after adjusting their care routines based on their hair’s porosity.

This article will delve into the fascinating world of hair porosity, helping you unlock the potential of your tresses.

What Is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity is a term that describes how easily your hair absorbs and retains moisture. It’s important to understand your hair’s porosity level to ensure you’re using the best hair care products and techniques.

There are three different levels of hair porosity:

  • High
  • Medium
  • Low

Each level has unique characteristics that affect the way your hair interacts with water and products.

Every hair strand consists of three layers:

  • Cuticle
  • Cortex
  • Medulla

The cuticle is the outermost layer, made up of overlapping scales. It protects the cortex and medulla. This layer plays a crucial role in determining the way hair interacts with moisture

Hair Porosity Types

If you understand your hair porosity type you can establish an effective hair care routine. It helps you figure out how your hair absorbs and retains moisture, and what it needs to look and feel its best.

Here are the details about each hair porosity type:

Low PorosityMedium PorosityHigh Porosity
Cuticle StructureCuticles are tightly closed and lay flat on the hair shaft.Cuticles are slightly raised, allowing a balanced amount of moisture and products in and out.Cuticles are widely spaced or lifted, allowing more moisture and products in and out.
Resistance to DamageHigh resistance to damage because tightly closed cuticles protect the hair shaft.Moderate resistance to damage. The hair is generally healthy and holds moisture well.Low resistance to damage. The hair is often more susceptible to damage due to the openness of the cuticles.
SignsProducts tend to sit on the hair rather than being absorbed. Hair takes longer to dry.Hair easily absorbs and retains the right amount of moisture. Hair responds well to styling.Hair quickly absorbs products but also loses moisture quickly, often resulting in dryness. Hair dries quickly after washing.

Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity hair is like a sponge that’s already full of water – it doesn’t want to take any more in. This happens because the hair has cuticles that lay flat and are compact.

Cuticles are like little scales on the hair shaft. Imagine a rooftop with tightly overlapped shingles; water can’t get inside with ease.

When you try to put a moisturizer or a hair styling product on low-porosity hair, it might not sink in fast. It’s like trying to add more water to that already full sponge.

To help low-porosity hair, you can use a little bit of heat. Heat can help open up those tight cuticles, like how warmth makes things expand.


Here are the characteristics of low-porosity hair:

  • Looks shiny, especially when it’s dark in color
  • Feels smooth but may be hard to process or style
  • Products may sit on the hair instead of being absorbed
  • Hair may take a long time to dry
  • Can resist certain chemical treatments (like coloring or perming)

Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair is like Goldilocks’ perfect porridge – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

The cuticles in this type of hair are not too tight or too open. They’re open enough to let moisture and hair products in and out with ease.

Think about a sponge that’s not too full or too empty – it can absorb a good amount of water and also let it out when squeezed.

This is how medium porosity hair works. It holds onto the right amount of moisture, and it’s also good at letting go of extra moisture.


Here are the characteristics of medium porosity hair:

  • Looks healthy and shiny
  • Feels smooth and silky to the touch
  • Holds styles well
  • Appears full and bouncy
  • Shows a good balance of moisture and strength

High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair has cuticles that are a bit like a rooftop with shingles that are spaced apart. They allow a lot of water to get inside.

The cuticles in this thigh-porosity hair are widely spaced or lifted, making the hair absorbent or porous. This could be because of natural reasons, or because of damage from heat or chemicals, like from curling irons or hair dye.

While high-porosity hair is good at taking in moisture and hair products, it’s also quick to lose them. Imagine a sponge with big holes in it – water can go in with ease, but it also goes out with ease.


Here are the characteristics of high-porosity hair:

  • May look dry or dull
  • Often appears frizzy
  • Can have split ends or breakage
  • Tends to tangle easily
  • May feel rough or coarse to the touch

Why Do We Have Different Hair Porosity?

The level of hair porosity can differ among individuals, or even change over time in the same person.

Here are the factors that influence hair porosity:

  1. Genetics
  2. Environmental factors
  3. Hair damage
  4. Age
  5. Hair care practices
  6. Hormones

1. Genetics

Your genes play a significant role in determining your hair porosity. Inherited traits from your family members could influence the shape of your hair shafts.

They also influence the structure of your hair cuticles. This structure affects how your hair absorbs and retains moisture.

2. Environmental Factors

Exposure to the elements can impact your hair porosity and contribute to alterations in your hair structure. These factors include:

  • Sun damage
  • Pollution
  • Changes in humidity

3. Hair Damage

Here are some activities that damage your hair and increase porosity:

  • Chemical processing
  • Coloring
  • Bleaching
  • Straightening

Heat damage from excessive use of hot hair tools weakens your hair shaft. It also makes it more prone to damage and increases porosity.

4. Age

As you grow older, your hair goes through changes that could affect its porosity. Age weakens the proteins in your hair, leading to less moisture retention and a higher level of porosity.

5. Hair Care Practices

Your haircare routine can also influence your hair’s porosity. Here are some activities that strip your hair of its natural oils and cause cuticle damage:

  • Over-washing
  • Improper detangling
  • Using harsh products

To maintain healthy hair porosity, be gentle with your hair and use moisturizing products to keep it hydrated.

6. Hormones

Hormonal changes can alter the structure and porosity of your hair. these include the changes experienced during pregnancy or menopause.

Ensure you adjust your hair care routine and products to accommodate these changes and maintain your hair’s health.

Hair Porosity Test: Find Your Porosity

Hair Porosity Test: Find Your Porosity

To determine your porosity through a simple test called the hair porosity water test:

  • Wash your hair.
  • Fill a glass with water.
  • Place a strand of your hair in the glass.
  • Observe the hair strand for a few minutes.

Here’s how to determine your hair porosity from the test:

  • If your hair sinks fast, it means you have high porosity hair.
  • If your hair floats in the middle of the glass, you likely have medium porosity.
  • If your hair floats on the surface or takes a long time to sink, you have low porosity hair.

How to Change Hair Porosity

Your hair needs care according to its porosity type. This can make a world of difference in its health and appearance. Each type requires a unique approach to care.

Here are some simple and effective tips for taking care of various hair porosity types.

Low Porosity Hair Care

Low porosity hair doesn’t absorb moisture well. Here’s how to deal with that:

  • Apply products in sections to ensure even distribution
  • Rinse your hair with warm water before applying conditioner
  • Use heat during conditioning treatments
  • Avoid heavy products, choose lighter, water-based ones
  • Use a clarifying shampoo regularly
  • Choose moisture-rich products
  • Be cautious with protein treatments
  • Apply products to damp, not soaking wet, hair
  • Avoid ingredients that lead to build-up

Medium Hair Care

Medium porosity hair strikes a balance between low and high porosity hair. You can maintain this balance by:

  • Regularly moisturizing your hair with lightweight products
  • Doing protein treatments occasionally, but not excessively
  • Using heat protectants if you regularly apply heat for styling
  • Maintain a balanced routine of moisture and protein treatments
  • Protect hair from heat and environmental damage
  • Regularly condition hair to maintain moisture
  • Limit the use of harsh chemicals and heat styling
  • Use hair products suitable for normal hair types
  • Regularly trim ends to prevent split ends and damage

High Porosity Hair Care

Here are the best tips to take care of high-porosity hair:

  • Regularly deep condition your hair
  • Use leave-in conditioners or oils to seal moisture
  • Apply protein treatments to strengthen your hair
  • Deep condition often
  • Rinse hair with cold water after washing.
  • Use leave-in conditioners and moisturizers
  • Limit the use of heat and chemical treatments
  • Protect hair from environmental damage
  • Seal hair with oils after moisturizing

Frequently Asked Questions

Is high-porosity or low-porosity hair better?

Neither high nor low porosity hair is better than the other. They are different types of hair, and each one requires unique care methods to keep it healthy. The important thing is to understand your hair type and tailor your hair care routine according to your hair porosity type.

Is porosity in hair good?

Hair porosity tells you how your hair interacts with products and treatments. Knowing your hair’s porosity can help you take the right steps to maintain its health, manage frizz, and reduce breakage. Understanding your hair’s porosity level is the first step. With this knowledge, you can then select suitable products.

Can diet or lifestyle affect hair porosity?

Yes, diet and lifestyle can affect hair porosity. A balanced diet is necessary for overall hair health. This diet should be rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These elements can influence the strength and structure of your hair. In turn, they may also affect its porosity. Stress, lack of sleep, and unhealthy habits like smoking can also affect hair health.

Can I have more than one type of hair porosity?

Yes, you can have more than one type of hair porosity. Hair damage can cause different sections of your hair to have different porosities. For example, hair near the scalp (new growth) could be low porosity, while the ends could be high porosity.