In our quest for healthy hair it is very important to know the porosity of our hair this will help us in taking better care of our hair and knowing what our hair wants. It will also help us determine the right products and treatments for our hair. Hair Porosity can be defined as the hair’s ability to absorb and keep moisture. Porosity can also be defined as how fast or slow your hair absorbs chemical treatments. The porosity of our hair is determined by the cuticle layer of the hair which is outermost layer of the hair shaft and it controls how much water enters and leaves the hair.

Low porosity hair has a very tightly bound cuticle layer, there is therefore a lack of effective penetration and release of moisture, chemicals, hair products, etc into the hair shaft. High porosity hair has various gaps and holes on the cuticle layer of the hair shaft and therefore allows for fast penetration and release of moisture and chemical products. Medium porosity is the healthiest porosity type and requires the least amount of maintenance. Low porosity is also fairly healthy as it is the next best thing.

My low porosity hair

The porosity of our hair is usually predetermined by genetics, however other factors can come into play which may change the porosity of our hair such as relaxers, hair dyes and so on. I always thought I had high porosity hair because I had done a test a long time ago and that was the result I got. However on further research I have found that I have low porosity hair (you will see my test results below) which explains why my hair never takes to relaxers, is coarse and always dry. This will also explain why my hair does not really benefit from co-washing as it just seems to cause product build up for me. I will be doing more detailed posts on low porosity and high porosity hair in subsequent posts. But first we need to determine how we can find out about the porosity of our hair.

How to Determine the Porosity of your Hair

There are several methods that you can use to determine the porosity of your hair and I will be sharing them below:

The Float Test: The float test is very simple to do. To do the float test you will need room temperature water in a clear cup/jar. You would also need a strand/or a few strands of your already shed hair and a device to tell the time. Note that it is important that you use strands of hair that are clean without any product on them otherwise the results would be flawed. It is also recommended that you try out this test just after you have washed your hair.

To do the float test take the hair strand/ hair strands and place gently in the cup/jar. Observe the hair as you wait and use your timing device, observe for about 2-4 minutes. If the hair floats for 4 minutes and longer you have low porosity hair. If your hair sinks immediately you have high porosity hair. If your hair however floats takes a while before it sinks or you find it somewhere in the middle of the cup/jar you may have normal porosity hair.

I show the results of my test below. My hair continued to float 4 minutes after I put a few strands in the jar. I even left the hair strands in for over 24 hours and my hair was still floating which confirms the fact that I have low porosity hair.

The Strand Test: Take a shed strand of hair and slide your fingers gently through it. Where you feel some bumps and ridges along the hair shaft and the strand feels rough or dry that means you have high porosity hair. If your fingers glide through easily and the hair strand feels dense and hard then you have low porosity hair. If your fingers slip through smoothly then you have normal porosity hair.

The Water Test: Take a small section of your hair and take a spray bottle and lightly mist the section of hair with water. Watch how fast or slow it takes your hair to absorb the water. If the water merely sits on your hair and your hair takes a while to get wet you have low porosity hair. If your hair absorbs the water very quickly then you have high porosity hair. If the water sits on your hair for some time and then it absorbs in your hair you have normal porosity hair.

Other points to note in determining the porosity of your hair is how long it takes for your hair to air dry. If your hair air dries very fast you have high porosity hair and if it air dries really slowly and takes a very long while to air dry then you have low porosity hair. Another indication of high porosity hair is that it over processes easily when the hair is being chemically processed like when the hair is getting relaxed or colour treated. However low porosity hair is resistant to chemical processes such as relaxers and colour dyes.

Please do one or all of the tests and share your results in the comment section below let us learn about the porosity of everyone’s hair. Also please do let us know if you agree with your results based on the description of the various porosity types.

My posts on the various porosity types will be sure to follow, please watch this space.


“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring