Hair - Hair Type - Porosity

13 High Porosity Hair Characteristics

Curious if you have high-porosity hair? Find out how it’s supposed to behave in our

Written by Ioana Moldovan
High Porosity Hair Characteristics

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Do you know that your hair’s ability to absorb and hold moisture is known as porosity?

High-porosity hair is a type of hair where the outer layer is more open. This allows moisture to enter with ease.

But it also escapes fast, bringing a set of challenges.

In this article, we will delve into the high porosity hair characteristics. We will help you understand your hair better and care for it.

What Is High Porosity Hair?

High porosity in hair refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. The main factor that influences this is its structure. High porosity hair easily absorbs moisture, but it also loses it the same way.

Hair Structure

High porosity hair has a unique structure. Your hair strands have three layers:

  • The cuticle (outermost layer)
  • The cortex (middle layer)
  • The medulla (innermost layer)

In high-porosity hair, the cuticles are raised and open. This allows moisture and oils to easily pass in and out of the hair strand.

What Causes High Porosity Hair?

There are several factors that can contribute to high porosity hair:

  • Genetics
  • Hair processing
  • Chemical treatments
  • Heat Styling
  • UV exposure


Your family tree plays a big role in your hair’s porosity. If your parents or grandparents have high porosity hair, you might have inherited it too.

Hair Processing

Hair processing, like perming or relaxing your hair, can change your hair’s structure and lead to high porosity.

These processes can lift your hair’s cuticles, making it easier for moisture to get in and out.

Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments, such as coloring or bleaching, can damage your hair and increase its porosity.

These treatments can cause the cuticles to lift, making your hair more prone to dryness and breakage.

Heat Styling

Using hot tools like straighteners, curling irons, or blow dryers can damage your hair and raise its porosity.

The high heat can cause your hair’s cuticles to lift, leading to moisture loss and potential damage.

UV Exposure

Sunlight contains harmful UV rays that can damage your hair, just like they can damage your skin.

Regular exposure to these rays can raise your hair’s porosity, leading to dryness and breakage.

How To Test for High Porosity Hair

If you are not sure about your hair porosity after taking the hair porosity quiz, there are more ways to test for high-porosity hair.

The simplest method is the “float test”:

  1. Collect a few clean, dry hair strands from your hairbrush or comb.
  2. Fill a glass with room-temperature water.
  3. Place the hair strands in the water and observe them for a few minutes.

If your hair strands sink fast, it’s likely that you have high porosity hair because the water passes through the open cuticles with ease.

If they float on top or sink in a slow manner, you have low or medium porosity hair.

Hair Porosity Test: Find Your Porosity

Pros of High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair may have its challenges, but it also comes with a few important positives.

One advantage is its ability to absorb moisture with ease. Thanks to the wide gaps between cuticles, your hair can fast soak up water, oils, and other treatments, providing deep nourishment.

Another benefit is versatility. You can style high porosity hair in various ways, as it holds onto products well. This you achieve the desired look.

Use products free of harsh chemicals like sulfates, parabens, and silicones.

With proper care, you can make your high-porosity hair healthier and more resilient.

Follow a routine that includes deep conditioning treatments and protein-rich products. You’ll contribute to improving your hair’s strength and appearance.

13 Signs of High Porosity Hair

13 Signs of High Porosity Hair

Here are the 13 signs of high porosity hair:

  1. Rapid moisture absorption
  2. Quick to dry
  3. Prone to frizz
  4. Lack of shine
  5. Tendency to tangle
  6. Feeling rough or coarse
  7. Struggling with moisture retention
  8. Easily colored
  9. Prone to breakage and split ends
  10. Rapid product build-up
  11. Lack of volume
  12. Difficulty holding styles
  13. Dull appearance

1. Rapid Moisture Absorption

Imagine a sponge. When you pour water on it, the sponge sucks it up fast. High-porosity hair does the same thing. When you wash your hair or apply a hair product, your hair soaks it up almost in an instant.

In high porosity hair, the hair cuticles, which are tiny scales on the hair shaft, are open. This allows moisture to go into your hair super fast.

But, like the sponge can’t hold all that water for long, your hair can’t either.

2. Quick to Dry

If you’ve ever noticed that your hair dries very fast after a shower, you might have high porosity hair. This is because those open hair cuticles let water escape as fast as they let it in.

Even though your hair might get wet fast, it also loses that moisture just as fast.

High porosity hair is like a bucket with holes in it – the water flows out!

3. Prone to Frizz

Imagine trying to run your hand along a rough wooden plank. It would get stuck on the bumps and grooves. The same thing happens when high porosity hair tries to slide past each other.

Because the cuticles are not tight, high-porosity hair strands can’t slide smoothly past each other, which leads to frizz.

Frizzy hair is when your hair doesn’t lie flat but instead sticks out in different directions.

4. Lack of Shine

High porosity hair often lacks shine. This is because shiny hair is usually smooth, allowing light to bounce off it.

When hair cuticles open, like in high porosity hair, the surface isn’t smooth anymore. This rough surface can’t reflect light as well, making the hair look dull or less shiny.

5. Tendency to Tangle

Like a bunch of hooks can get tangled together, hair with high porosity can get tangled with ease. This is because the raised cuticles on each hair strand can catch on the cuticles of other strands, leading to knots and tangles.

6. Feeling Rough or Coarse

High-porosity hair can often feel rough or coarse when you touch it. The cuticles of the hair are not tight or open, creating a rough texture.

Like a cat’s tongue feels rough because of the tiny barbs on it, high porosity hair feels rough because of the raised cuticles.

7. Struggling with Moisture Retention

Even though high porosity hair can absorb a lot of moisture fast, it can’t hold onto it for long.

The open cuticles allow the moisture to escape fast as it comes in. This is why high-porosity hair often struggles with dryness.

8. Easily Colored

If you’ve ever dyed your hair and noticed the color took very well, you might have high porosity hair.

This is because the open cuticles allow the hair dye to penetrate the hair shaft with ease.

The result is a more intense and vibrant color, which can be a big plus if you love to experiment with different hair colors.

9. Prone to Breakage and Split Ends

High-porosity hair is often weaker than other types of hair.

This is because the open cuticles make it harder for the hair to retain moisture. Hair needs moisture to stay strong and flexible.

When hair becomes dry and brittle, it can break with ease and develop split ends.

10. Rapid Product Build-up

Like a sponge can soak up too much water and become oversaturated, high porosity hair can absorb too much product.

When this happens, the product builds up on the hair, leading to issues like greasiness or heaviness.

11. Lack of Volume

High porosity hair can often lack volume, or appear flat or limp.

The hair struggles to keep the right amount of moisture it needs to appear full and bouncy.

Instead, it can absorb too much product, which weighs it down, or lose too much moisture, which makes it appear lifeless.

12. Difficulty Holding Styles

High porosity hair can often have trouble holding styles, like curls or waves.

When the hair cuticles are open or lifted, the hair loses elasticity. Elasticity is what helps hair spring back into shape.

When high-porosity hair loses elasticity, it struggles to hold a style.

13. Dull Appearance

High porosity hair can often appear dull. This is because of the same reasons that it lacks shine – the lifted cuticles create a rough surface that doesn’t reflect light well.

Keep high-porosity hair well-moisturized to combat this issue.

11 Tips for High Porosity Hair Care

Caring for high-porosity hair is tricky. Here are some tips to help you take care of your high-porosity hair:

  1. Apply a moisture-rich hair mask to keep your hair hydrated and prevent dryness.
  2. Utilize deeply nourishing hair conditioners to maintain the health of your hair cuticle layer.
  3. Incorporate protein treatments for high porosity hair to strengthen your hair and reduce breakage.
  4. Regularly snip off split ends to avoid tangles and further damage.
  5. Minimize the frequency of hair styling, focusing on gentle techniques.
  6. Adopt the Liquid, Oil, and Cream (LOC) routine to lock moisture into your hair.
  7. Opt for pillows covered with satin or silk to prevent friction and protect your hair while you sleep.
  8. Reduce the usage of shampoo, as it may strip moisture from your hair.
  9. Select appropriate products tailored for high-porosity hair, including leave-in conditioners.
  10. Apply a nourishing treatment before shampooing to protect your hair from drying out.
  11. Use products designed for easy detangling, making sure to avoid harsh brushes and combs.

High Porosity vs. Low Porosity vs. Medium Porosity

All hair types are susceptible to damage and require proper care. The maintenance strategies for each hair porosity type differ due to their distinct structures. This is why high porosity hair is not inherently good or bad; it is merely different.

Hair Porosity TypeCuticle StructureMoisture Absorption and RetentionResistance to Damage
Low PorosityCuticles lay flatAbsorbs moisture with difficulty, but retains it for longer.More heat, chemical, and environmental damage resistant
High PorosityOpen cuticlesAbsorbs and loses moisture with easeLeads to dryness and potential damage
Medium PorosityCuticles are neither packed nor looseAbsorbs and retains the right amount of moistureNeeds less maintenance

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of hair is usually high porosity?

High porosity hair is usually characterized by open cuticles, leading to faster absorption and loss of moisture. You can find it in any hair type. Still, it’s often a result of chemical treatments, heat styling, or harsh environmental factors that damage the hair cuticle.

Can hair porosity change over time?

Yes, your hair porosity can change over time. Factors like chemical treatments, heat styling, and exposure to harsh conditions damage the hair cuticle. This increases porosity. Adopting a healthy hair care routine or cutting off damaged hair can help lower your hair’s porosity.

How does diet and lifestyle affect hair porosity?

A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can impact your hair’s health, including its porosity. Consuming adequate vitamins, minerals, and proteins supports hair growth and strength. Staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and reducing stress also contribute to maintaining healthy hair. This reduces the chances of high porosity.