It took me until quite recently to discover that my hair is on the lower end of the porosity spectrum. But wait – let’s back up. What exactly is porosity? What does it have to do with your hair?
Everyone’s strands have a certain level of how open or closed their hair cuticle is. People with high porosity hair have a fairly open cuticle, meaning that their hair will soak in moisture, but they have difficulty getting the cuticle to close to keep the moisture in. Those of us on the lower part of the spectrum have a fairly closed cuticle, meaning that moisture is retained very well, but it’s also difficult to get your hair to, you know, actually absorb it. I figured out that I have low porosity hair by letting a few dry strands sit in a cup of water for an hour. If your hair sinks to the bottom, you’ve got high porosity. If it’s middle, that ever-elusive medium porosity (the easiest to care for). If it stays stubbornly floating on top, mocking you and your test, you, my friend, have low porosity strands.
Although this is obviously a potentially long discussion, I highly recommend you check out the blog Low Porosity Hair Care – it’s got lots of tips and tricks if you’re navigating your way through that strand type.
So, what can you do if you’ve taken the test and your hair is low porosity? Here are some things I have found that have helped me immensely:
- Steam. Steam helps to open the cuticle by using heat and water. This is fabulous, because you are always trying to get that cuticle open. My favourite time to do this is when I’ve got a head full of conditioner or deep conditioner – by steaming, my cuticles are opening to introduce all the good stuff in. Because I don’t own a steamer (other than for clothes, which I guess, technically, could work), I prefer to run the water hot in the shower for a couple minutes. I no longer wear shower caps in the shower – don’t waste a perfectly good steam opportunity!
- Heat. I know, I know! Breaking the cardinal rule of curly hair, right? But I’ve found that a little bit of heat does wonders. Now, I’m not talking about straight ironing your hair, but I am talking about using warmer water when it’s wash day, and maybe diffusing on a warmer setting while your hair is trying to absorb all that good leave-in conditioner you’ve put on.
- Water temperature. I know this kind of goes along with the last one, but when you are refreshing your few days-old wash-and-go, instead of using cold water, use some warmer stuff from the tap. I just run the tap, let me hands go under and get my palms wet, and then twist through my hair with some leave-in conditioner. It’ll help things absorb more thoroughly.
So, do you have low porosity hair, or have you done the hair test yet? What kind of adjustments do you need to make to your routine?