How to determine hair porosity

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  • August 15, 2019
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If you have heard the term “hair porosity” recently and been baffled – don’t worry, you’re not alone! There are lots of different terms and categories to describe hair health, texture and type.

We get it – it can be overwhelming! This week, we’re going to be breaking down another (possibly) daunting hair care term – porosity.

The term “hair porosity” refers to the general ability of your strands to absorb and retain moisture. There are 3 different types of hair porosity levels: low, mediumand high.

We will go over exactly what each of those means for your hair, teach you how to figure out your hair’s porosity level, and most importantly provide some crucial tips and tricks for each porosity type.

Square One

Let’s start from square one – what does porosity mean? Hair porosity refers to your hair’s natural ability to absorb moisture and product.

We’ve created a simple assessment that can help you to determine your hair’s porosity level and give a bit of background as to what exactly that means.

You can take our Porosity Quiz and report back to get some deeper information on porosity levels in the rest of this blog!

If you’d like to take a hands-on approach, there are a few quick tests that you can conduct yourself to determine the porosity level of your hair.

The Strand Test

Take a single strand of your hair in fingers. Starting from the bottom, run your fingers upwards to the root of the strand.

What do you feel?

What It Means:

If the strand feels rough, bumpy or breaks – your hair has a high level of porosity.

If the strand feels smooth – your hair has a medium level of porosity.

If the strand slides easily and feels dense or hard in your fingertips – your hair has a low level of porosity.

Want a second opinion? Try this quick test, too!

The Float Test

How to determine hair porosity

After brushing or running fingers through your hair, remove a single strand. Fill a bowl or cup with room-temperature water and place the strand inside.

What It Means:

If the strand sinks quickly to the bottom – your hair has a high level of porosity.

If the strand sinks slowly to the bottom – your hair has a medium level of porosity.

If the strand floats – your hair has a low level of porosity.

What does my hair porosity mean?

How to determine hair porosity

Now that you’ve figured out what your hair’s porosity level is, let’s dive into what exactly that means and how the porosity level of your hair can change over time.

High Porosity

High porosity hair has difficulty retaining moisture. It tends to be a bit more damaged as a result of UV exposure, heat styling, and chemical or bleach processing.

Over time, this results in the hair cuticles being permanently stuck in the “open” position, making it easy for moisture to soak in, but just as easy for it to escape from the open cuticles.

Highly porous hair typically air-dries quickly, is prone to excess frizz, and feels a bit drier on the ends.

Tips for Hair with a High Porosity Level

Moisture is key! Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that aims to provide deep hydration to your strands. Additionally, use a deep conditioning treatment 1-2 times weekly to give your hair that extra hug of moisture that it needs.

When washing and rinsing your hair, try to use lukewarm or cold water. This encourages the cuticle to close and retain more water for a smoother feel.

After applying styling or leave-in product on your clean hair, use cuticle-sealing products.

A great example of this is the RevAir Reverse Air Dryer, which uses low heat and air flowing in the natural direction of the cuticle to dry and smooth the hair – while tension lays the cuticle down flat in the “closed” position.

Apply a moisturizing leave-in primer before Rev’ing your hair to help the ingredients do their job and be locked in under the smoothed cuticle. One of the best tips for your hair’s health- cut down on UV and heat exposure.

Wear a hat when you’re lying on the beach or running around on sunny days, and opt for heat-free or low-heat styling options instead of styling with heat-intensive tools daily.

Check out some protective styling and braiding tips that we posted a few weeks ago!

Medium Porosity

Medium porosity hair has little to no difficulty absorbing or retaining moisture. It tends to be relatively healthy with minimal exposure to damage from UV, chemical or heat processing.

Fun Fact: Hair starts out with a medium or low porosity level and gradually becomes more porous as damage occurs.

The best thing you can do for your strands is to have a beneficial hair regimen that focuses on hydration and low-heat styling to keep hair at a medium to low porosity level.

Tips for Hair with A Medium Porosity Level

Wash your hair regularly to keep it clean and build-up free. Since excess buildup and deep hydration aren’t a large concern for this porosity, focus on choosing products made for your hair type.

Want to learn more?

Keep it healthy! The focus is on keeping your hair at this healthy, average porosity level! Stay away from excess chemical and heat styling to preserve your strands.

Try styling your hair with no or low heat alternatives, like swapping your hair dryer for a RevAir Reverse Air Dryer, or rocking your natural texture!

Whew- that was another long one! Hopefully, you now have a better grasp on just what exactly hair porosity levels are, and what they mean for you.

Each week we will be back with another blog focusing on hair health and education – because we get how important it is.

Regardless of your hair’s porosity level, the RevAir helps to cut down on heat exposure and lay your cuticles down smoothly – all while infusing moisture and your favorite product right into your strands.

If you’d like to talk more about keeping your hair healthy, or have questions about the RevAir – don’t hesitate to contact us!

Our team of educated advisors are here to chat!

Trade your Blow Dryer and Straightener for the World’s First and Only Reverse-Air Dryer.

RevAir is an all-in-one tool that will dry and straighten your hair fast with less heat.

What is hair porosity

To give your hair the most effective treatment with the best possible results, it’s necessary to know the porosity level of your hair. Yes, it may sound fancy but it’s as simple as this: Hair porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture and there are three levels of it: low, normal or high. The outer layer of your hair strand, the cuticle, is the one determining your hair porosity. The cuticle can open and close to let moisture and products in and out. The more porous your cuticle is (more “holes” in it), the more it absorbs moisture into the hair strand. And careful now! This doesn’t mean that it is a good thing. High porosity hair absorbs fast moisture but loses it equally fast, making it dry again. On a contrary, low hair porosity has compact cuticles and it is hard for it to penetrate moisture into the hair strand.

Porosity test

To determine whether you have a high, normal or low porosity hair takes only 5 minutes! All you need is a glass of water and a few hair strands of yours.

  1. Shampoo your hair sample to remove any product buildup and let it dry
  2. Drop the hairs into the glass of water and let them sit for five minutes.
  3. Check whether the hair strands are floating on the surface, starting to sink slowly eventually staying on the halfway or sinking fast to the bottom.
  • Low porosity: If your hair floats on the surface, you likely have low porosity hair.
  • Normal porosity: If your hair sinks slowly and eventually floats somewhere in the middle of the glass, you likely have medium porosity hair.
  • High porosity : If your hair sinks immediately, you likely have high porosity hair.

How to determine hair porosity

Hair care according to porosity level

What low porosity hair needs

If your hair was floating on the surface, you have low porosity hair, meaning that the cuticles are very compact and it is hard for the hair to absorb moisture. Therefore, the best way to treat the hair is to open up the cuticles before applying moisture to your hair. To do that you can use steam or simply a hot damp towel. Another efficient way to make the cuticles open up is to do a hot oil treatment . Use oils that can penetrate the hair shaft. The Wild Curl Moisturizing Hair Oil contains oils that when heated the penetration ability increases.

What normal porosity hair needs

Normal porosity hair requires less maintenance than low or high porosity hair. Just make sure that once in awhile you treat your hair with deep conditioning treatments and you use hair oils to seal the added moisture.

What high porosity hair needs

High porosity hair feels often very dry and looks frizzy. As the cuticles are already too open try not to apply unnecessary heat to your hair. If possible, always air-dry your hair or use cold air with the hairdryer. Use regularly deep conditioning treatments and rinse it off with cold water to close the cuticles. I know! Everyone loves hot showers but this trick works. Finally, seal in the added moisture with sealing hair oil such as our Weightless Wavy Hair oil for finer hair types and Kinky hair oil for afro hair.

Additionally to sealing hair oils it is also important to use moisturizing and penetrating hair oils. As the cuticles of high porosity hair are more widely spaced the hair can absorb and lose water very fast. This can result in hygral fatigue (repeated swelling and drying), a factor that can damage hair. Some oils can penetrate the hair and reduce the amount of water absorbed in the hair, leading to a lowering of swelling. For this, use moisturizing hair oil that can penetrate the hair shaft such as our Moisturizing Curly Hair Oil.


Hi Lucretia, If the hair strands are low porosity they don’t absorb that easily water inside the hair strands. This makes the hair float. If the hair doesn’t sink naturally in few minutes this means that your hair has low porosity. If you leave the hair for a long time eventually all type of hair would absorb water and sink.

With low porosity hair, the cuticles tend to overlap each other and are tightly packed together. Because there are no spaces between the cuticles, it makes it harder for water, as well as products like oils and conditioners, to deliver moisture to the hair shaft.

Hot oil treatments tend to be loaded with protein and make a great choice for deep conditioning fine hair that is low in porosity. You can see more information on our blog post about a Hot Oil Treatment.

So I did my strand test and it stayed on top but I push them down a little bit just to make sure that they could get through the water tension. The stand sank to the bottom But then some of them rules again to the top. what does this mean?

We all know that our curl pattern plays a big role in how our hair behaves and how we need to care for it, but while we may have heard the term “porosity” before, many of us don’t know all that much about it or what it means. As important as curl pattern is, hair porosity is just as important in determining how your hair behaves, how it reacts to different styling and care products, and what kind of care it needs. Keep reading to learn about what hair porosity is, how it affects the way that your hair behaves, how to determine the porosity of your hair, and how to best maintain and troubleshoot the various types of hair porosity.

How to determine hair porosity

What Is Hair Porosity?

Put simply, hair porosity is how porous – or absorbent – your hair is. How well your hair absorbs water in the shower, humidity from the air, and styling products all comes down to your hair’s porosity. Porosity also affects how well your hair retains what it absorbs, particularly moisture. Hair porosity is a spectrum, where air that is low porosity is less absorbent and hair that is high porosity is more absorbent.

Your hair is able to absorb and release moisture through the cuticle, the outermost layer of each strand. On a microscopic level, the cuticle is comprised of overlapping “scales”, somewhat like the shingles on a roof. These scales can raise or flatten in response to environmental factors, and the degree to which they do so is what determines your hair’s porosity. A cuticle that remains mostly closed in response to moisture results in low porosity hair, while a cuticle that readily opens to accept (and release) moisture results in high porosity hair.

How to determine hair porosity

What Determines Your Hair’s Porosity?

Hair porosity is largely genetic, though there are factors that can affect and change your hair’s porosity over time. Things like heat, harsh chemicals, and UV rays can all damage your hair over time, increasing its porosity and damaging its ability to retain moisture, hold color, and absorb product.

How to determine hair porosity

How Can You Test Your Hair’s Porosity?

You can easily determine your hair’s porosity at home using either one (or both) of these tests:

1. The Float Test – take a clean, freshly shampooed, product-free, and completely air-dried strand of hair. Fill a bowl with room temperature water, and place the strand in the middle. Leave for five minutes. If the strand of hair has remained floating on the surface, you have low porosity hair. If it has sunk to the bottom, you have high porosity hair. And if it’s somewhere in between, you have medium porosity hair.

2. The Slide Test – take a clean, freshly shampooed, product-free, and completely air-dried strand of hair. Using one hand to pull it taut, use your opposite hand to gently pinch the strand between your thumb and finger and run your fingers up along the length of the hair towards your scalp. A bumpy and resistant feel indicates an open cuticle, meaning you have high porosity hair. A smoother glide upwards with little resistance means low porosity hair.

How to determine hair porosity

How To Manage The Different Porosity Types

Low Porosity

Low porosity hair is great at retaining moisture, but not so good at absorbing it. For this reason, those with low porosity hair should focus on imparting moisture with products such as butters, oils, and rich hair masks. Due to its reluctance to absorb product, you will need to encourage your hair to absorb them using heat (a shower cap topped with a warm towel will do – you do not need to apply intense heat to encourage absorption). For styling, avoid products that are heavy and may end up just sitting on your hair, such as heavy leave-ins and styling butters. Instead, opt for lightweight products like gels and styling milks, preferably those containing humectants like glycerin or honey. Finally, low porosity hair has little to gain from protein treatments, and they may even leave the hair straw-like due to build up. Refrain from protein treatments, and avoid using products formulated with protein.

Medium Porosity

Medium porosity hair is, well, the happy medium of hair porosity. No fighting to impart moisture, and no fighting to retain it. Your hair will remain balanced for the most part, though it may occasionally need boosts of moisture and sometimes even protein. Start with bi-weekly moisturizing treatments such as a CG-friendly hair mask, and gauge from there whether your hair needs more or less frequent treatments. If you find your hair has a hard time retaining moisture in between treatments, consider supplementing with a very light protein treatment. Be careful with protein, however – it can cause buildup and leave your hair straw-like, which may require a clarifying shampoo to remove.

High Porosity

High porosity hair requires a bit more attention to encourage it to better absorb and retain moisture. Some people have naturally high porosity hair, but many people end up with high porosity hair due to cumulative damage. Especially for those with damaged hair, moisturizing treatments must be supplemented with fortifying protein treatments to allow your hair to hold onto the moisture. Use nourishing styling products like leave-in conditioners, layered with sealing oils like jojoba oil or even shea butter. Aloe Vera extract or gel can also help flatten the cuticle and even out the pH of your hair, and some curlies incorporate it into their styling routines and daily use products.

How to determine hair porosity

You may have heard about “Hair Typing”. Today we shall discuss in detail what is hair typing and in what ways you can determine it. Knowing your hair type will help you in selecting your hair care products more easily. You might be using a product that is not suitable for your hair, just to be sure, keep reading to know your hair better.

The shape and pattern of a strand of your hair or the way your hair curls is called your hair type. Accordingly, there are 4 general types of curl patterns:

  1. Straight
  2. Wavy
  3. Curly
  4. Coily

Determine Your Hair Type:

How to determine hair porosity

Different types and sub-types of hair

To determine the hair type, next time when you wash your hair and air dry them.

  1. If your hair strands are straight without any curl or wave it means you have #1 Straight hair.
  2. When your hair dries, if it creates a loose S shape then you have # 2 Wavy hair. There are 2 subtypes of wavy hair.
  3. If your hair creates a defined curl or a loop then you have # 3 Curly hair. There are 3 subtypes of type 3 curly hair. To learn more about type 3a,3b click here. For more on 3c hair, then click here.
  4. And if your hair has small curls and zig-zag pattern that means you have #4 Coily hair. Also, there are 3 subtypes of type 4 coily hair. Want to learn all about type 4, click here.

How to determine hair porosity

Hair Density:

One of the vital things to know about hair typing is how dense your hair is. Hair density level is defined by the number of strands you have on your head per square inch. You can check your hair density by parting your hair from the middle and see if you can clearly see your scalp than you have low hair density. If the scalp is not clearly visible then you have a high level of hair density.

Porosity Level:

Apart from hair typing, a very important thing to know about your hair is your hair’s porosity level. The porosity level indicates how your hair absorbs the moisture. For different hair types, the porosity levels are different. The dense coily hair does not have a high porosity level as the product sits on the top of the hair and does not get absorbed. on the other hand, fine hair with less density has a high porosity level. As it has defined curl patterns and absorbs the product easily.

Hair Type: Conclusion:

We hope this helps you in knowing your hair better. You might have a mixture of everything in your hair. But to get choose the right products for your hair, you must know your hair type, density, and porosity levels. So that you can take care of your hair efficiently.

What is this thing called Hair Porosity. Everyone is asking do you know what your hair porosity is. Essentially, hair porosity is about your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture . The porosity of your hair affects how well oils and moisture pass in and out of the outermost layer of your hair, known as the cuticle. Knowing your hair porosity also helps you to determine what type of products are needed for your hair to be healthy.

There are three ways to determine hair porosity.

#1 – THE STRAND TEST: Gently stretch a tiny section of curl strands from different areas of your head – front hairline, nape, crown and temple. Place the stretched curl between your thumb and finger and slide it up the hair strand from the tip towards the scalp. If your fingers move easily up the strand and it feels dense and hard, you have low porosity hair. If it feels smooth, you have normal porosity hair. And if the strand feels rough or dry or it breaks, you have high porosity hair.

#2 – THE SHEDDING HAIR TEST: Another way to check your hair porosity is to drop hair that’s been shed as a result of combing into a glass of water. If it floats, your hair is low porosity. If your hair sinks slowly, it has normal porosity, and if it sinks immediately, your hair is high porosity.

#3 – THE H20 TEST: To determine your hair porosity level using water, spritz a small section of curls with water and watch how your hair reacts – does your hair absorb the water quickly (indicating high porosity) or does it remain on top (indicating a low porosity level)?

Additional characteristics to help identify porosity type are listed below.

Characteristics of Low Porosity Curly Hair

• Curls take a long time to dry.

• Products tend to build up on curls rather than absorb.

• Natural oils don’t readily penetrate, but rather sit on your hair.

• Curls take much longer to get fully saturated when you wet them.

Characteristics of Normal Porosity Curly Hair • Curls are full of bounce and elasticity.

• Requires very little maintenance.

• Easily accepts and retains moisture inside the cuticle.

• Holds styles well and can be colored with good results.

Characteristics of High Porosity Curly Hair • Curls easily absorb water, however, it requires more products.

• Curls often look and feel dry.

• Curls are often frizzy.

• Curls dry quickly.

The type of care and products needed for your hair porosity type is Below.

Low Porosity Curl Care Low porosity hair has very compact cuticles, so it’s hard to inject moisture into the hair shaft, although it does retain moisture once it absorbs. To raise the cuticle, follow these tips:

• Use heat. Sit under a hooded drier, steamer or even a warm towel or shower cap, to help products better absorb and bind with the hair better.

• Always distribute products evenly throughout your hair making sure not to put too much on. • Apply products to damp, not drenched hair.

• Use sulfate-free shampoo and rinses.

Normal Porosity Curl Care Normal porosity hair has compact cuticles that easily let moisture enter in. Do regular deep conditioning treatments to maintain good product absorption.

High Porosity Curl Care Thirsty hair needs products that help it retain as much moisture as possible. Follow these tips to increase hydration:

• Use minimal heat. It’s best to air dry your hair, if possible.

• Incorporate regular deep conditioning treatments into your curl care routine.
Rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle and prevent frizz.

• Detangle gently with a wide-tooth comb to prevent hair loss and reduce hair

• Seal in moisture and combat thirsty curl porosity.