What is Hair Porosity and Why is it Important to Know About?
Many of us have heard the term "hair porosity" floating around, but what exactly does the term mean, and why is it important for you to know?
Hair porosity is basically your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. Hair porosity is divided into three distinct categories:
High Porosity: Hair cuticles are widely spread
Medium Porosity: Hair Cuticles are less spaced out, but not very compressed
Low Porosity: Hair Cuticles are close together
I'm sure you're thinking "what does this mean, why should I care?" Let's dive a little deeper and explain this a little better!
What Does Porosity Mean?
Before we venture entirely too far into the deep end, we feel it is necessary to discuss the structure of your hair first. Your hair is made up of three main parts: the medulla, the cortex, and finally, the cuticle.
The cortex makes up the majority of your hair strand and is responsible for giving your strands its strength, elasticity, and color. The cortex is then surrounded by the cuticle- which is basically a layer of protective cells that lay flat against the cortex.
The cuticle cells are actually dead, but they are filled with natural oils that help protect your strands from damage. It is important to note that the cuticle layer can become damaged easily- which is why it is important to use products and treatments that are specifically designed to fortify and strengthen this layer.
Now that we have a basic understanding of hair structure, let's get back to the topic at hand: porosity.
Porosity is defined as the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. When your cuticle layer is healthy and intact, it helps to seal in moisture- which means your strands will be less prone to damage and breakage.
On the other hand, if your cuticle layer is damaged or raised, it will be more difficult for your strands to retain moisture- which can lead to a host of problems like dryness, frizz, and split ends.
Medulla: Soft, central part of the hair shaft.
Cuticle: The protective outer layer of your hair, this is made up of several smaller cuticles, each overlapping to form the protective layer.
Cortex: The thickest layer, containing a ton of proteins, and contains the pigmentation for your hair's color
In order for our hair to stay hydrated and healthy, moisture, water, and oils need to have the ability to penetrate the cuticle and provide the cortex with the needed moisture. If the cuticle is raised, it is more difficult for water and other nutrients to enter the hair shaft. In addition, if the cuticle is raised, it is more likely for the hair shaft to break.
However, if the cuticles are widely spaced (High porosity) your hair has a harder time retaining moisture. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if the cuticles are too close together, it becomes difficult for water or oil to effectively penetrate the cuticle. But, how exactly does this occur?
Your hair's porosity is determined by a variety of factors- some of which you can control, and others that you cannot. Factors like over-processing, heat damage, and chemical treatments can all lead to raised cuticles and high porosity hair.
Other factors like genetics, age, and certain medical conditions can also play a role in your hair's porosity.
What Causes Porosity?
Primarily, your porosity is determined by your genetics. Therefore, if medium porosity is predominant in your family, then you will most likely have medium porosity as well. However, genetics is not the only factor that contributes to porosity.
If you apply too much heat, over wash, or use products packed with chemicals you can also alter the porosity of your hair. Other treatments like coloring, straightening, and perming can also lead to changes in your hair's porosity. This is why we offer all natural and organic hair products and beard products as a alternative to the traditional grooming product.
How Do You Test Your Porosity?
The answer to this question is actually a lot more simple than you might think!
Follow these steps below:
- Thoroughly clean your hair (hair with product and/ or dirt can alter the results)
- Grab a glass of water
- Grab a strand of clean and dry hair (head hair or beard hair)
- Watch to see if it sinks, floats, or only sinks to the middle of the glass
If your hair floats for awhile before sinking, you most likely have low porosity hair.
If your hair Floats in the middle of the glass, you probably have medium porosity hair.
If your hair sinks right to the bottom instantly, you most likely have high porosity hair.
Knowing your hair's porosity allows you to understand how much product you must use in your hair, because after all, each of us are different. If you have high porosity, in some cases, less is more. But, if you have low porosity, it can take a little more than the average person to effectively treat your hair. Please comment below if you decide to test your porosity and let us know what you think!
About the Author
Greetings, my name is S. Michael Holt and I am a Marine Corps Veteran with a bachelors in psychology. I have been pursuing my interest in mental health while owning Cúram Nádúrtha Men's Grooming Products by building a philosophy around knowing yourself and seeking self-improvement/ self-awareness. My brands philosophy strives to empower men in their daily lives and embrace their inner gentleman, by providing them with an approach that caters to all of their grooming needs all under one roof. Our slogan "Unleash Your Inner Gentleman" has a very deep and contextual meaning that requires a change in your self perception to truly understand what it means. Unleash Your inner Gentleman stands for: changing your perspective, being in control of your life and pushing forward, all while maintaining the balance needed for peace of mind through the utilization of premium grooming products. Gentlemen should carry themselves a certain way, and desire to improve every aspect of their lives. With that being said, this evolution requires a shift in your state of mind, one must truly embody the Gentleman's State of Mind. In this Journal, you will find articles about men's mental health, grooming tips, information about ingredients and/or products, and other informational entries that carry vital information for the Modern Gentleman.