What is hair porosity and why is it important to consider when building your hair care regimen / routine?

Porosity can be determined by finding out how one’s hair reacts to moisture. First of all, our hair (natural African hair), no matter the type of porosity or density, needs moisture (water); and how it takes water in is very important.

image from: hairliciousinc.com
High porosity hair:
Cons: Releases moisture as quickly as it takes it in – BAD
Sealing with heavy oils or butter is of the utmost importance to high porosity hair – and if hair is not adequately moisturized and the moisture sealed it, the hair becomes so dry and brittle that it may break on contact
Pros: Takes moisture in very easily – GOOD

Popular Traits of high porosity hair

  • Cuticles are open, so moisture enters the strands easily.
  • When hair is properly moisturized (with water), it takes in products easily – e.g. leave in conditioners
  • Using butters without properly moisturizing the hair causes breakage as the butter will seal out any moisture causing the hair to be brittle and break
  • Easy to moisturize / saturate with water (unless there’s a product-build up issue)
  • Hair lets go of moisture very quickly – and it may be quickest to dry
  • Looks dull-ish, without shine and doesn’t seem to have any curl definition
  • Shrinks up to 75% its length when wet / washed
  • Single strand knots and tangles are a sure thing after washing. Detangling is a must

Here’s an easy regimen to follow when you’ve determined that you have high porosity hair

(On wash days)
  • Soak hair in warm water
  • With your hair in 4 – 6 sections, apply a bit of moisturizing, clarifying shampoo directly to the scalp and massage the scalp to get rid of the gunk and build up (REMEMBER: shampoo is for the scalp, conditioner is for the hair)
  • As you rinse out the shampoo (with warm water, you’ll be able to get your hair clean as well – you don’t need to rub the hair to wash it
  • On wet, sectioned hair, work in your conditioner / deep conditioner (and follow the instructions of the product, e.g. wear a plastic processing cap for 15 minutes etc.)
  • Rinse with warm water – other naturals detangle with a watered-down conditioner before the deep conditioning / after, others do so even before the shampooing. You do what works for your hair
  • Do bantu knots or large braids and allow your hair to air-dry up to maybe 80%
  • Work in your leave-in conditioner in sections as you unbraid the section
  • You MUST seal in with butter as soon as the hair is about 90% dry (post leave-in)
  • Braid or twist or do whatever protective styling that works for you

(REMEMBER: protective styles are to protect your natural hair, not the weave/extensions and it’s always best to have a protective style that allows you to wash your hair every 1-2 weeks without having to take it down; this helps to ensure that your scalp is clean and your hair isn’t manipulated more than it is necessary. My go-to protective style is mini-twists – they’re easy to work around, you can wear them for 2 weeks and still be able to wash and treat your hair in both those 2 weeks)

DIY hair mists can be great especially if they work with the hair and scalp’s natural pH
  • Remoisturize hair by using a moisturizing hair mist
  • Apply and work in your leave-in conditioner (all this should be done without over-manipulating your hair, with your protective style intact)

Best products+tips for high porosity hair:

  • Heavy + moisturizing oils to seal in moisture – e.g. Jojoba oil, Shea Butter, Mango Butter etc.
  • Avoid products with heavy proteins / protein treatments – rather do a protein treatment when necessary (when hair is limp and lifeless, stretching and not returning to its original curl pattern/shape when pulled)
  • Ensure your products with mineral oils and any ingredient that ends with “cones” , e.g. silicone. Keep your regimen natural by choosing natural, chemical-free products / use your own DIY recipes (just research your ingredients first)
  • Deep condition with processing caps / heat / steam before deep conditioning
  • Invest in a leave-in conditioner that is moisturizing / contains aloe vera, humectants and moisturizing oils
  • Seal with a butter that is Shea Butter based, with nourishing, moisturizing oils
  • As with other hair type, ensure you get the best out of your diet by adding nutrients-rich food products to your lifestyle
Until next time,

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