The 1-Minute Trick & Hair Care Tips

To understand hair porosity, you should know a bit about the hair structure—specifically the outermost layer. “The outer layer of the hair strand is called the cuticle layer. It’s called this because it is made of little tiny cuticles that lay slightly over one another,” says hairstylist Danielle Malary of Lumiere Vive Salon. The most common analogy to use is like shingles on a roof: The shingles slightly overlap each other, so there are no gaps for water to seep through. Porosity comes in, maybe you’ve guessed by now, because when something is porous is more able to absorb moisture. Thus hair that is “more porous” has more pores between the cuticles for water to get through. 

“Hair porosity describes how the hair’s cuticle absorbs and holds on to moisture in its pores—hence, the term porosity,” says hairstylist Miko Branch, co-founder of hair care brand Miss Jessie’s

Now, hair porosity is a spectrum, ranging from high to low. It’s good to know roughly where you fall on it, as it can determine how you care for and style your strands. We’ll get into it more later, but as a briefer: Hair that has high porosity means the cuticles are more open, so hair absorbs water easily. But it also means it evaporates easily. Hair that has low porosity has dense cuticles. This means the hair has a harder time absorbing water, product, or even your scalp’s natural oils, and you’ll see buildup faster. It also takes longer to dry after getting wet as it’s holding all that water in. Then you can fall somewhere between these two ends of the spectrum, which is considered medium porosity. 

Porosity matters because it will affect how you care for and style your hair. We tend to think of hair care just in terms of hair type. Or, we may even consider our scalp type or how thick or thin our hair is. But one of the most important considerations for care is actually porosity—and many people don’t actually know what their level is. That’s why it’s so important to test yours. 

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