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FEATURES Aug 8 2012 5:50PM

Porosity: The Silent Culprit of Dry Hair

by Gabrielle Allen, Strawberri Curls

Most people assume that when their hair is dry, it’s because they aren’t moisturizing it enough, they're using something that clogs the hair cuticle, too much heat or drying it out some kind of other way. This isn’t always the case. I’m here to tell you that while all these reason may be a factor, there is something that is rarely discussed as far as dry hair is concerned. That is the porosity  issue. Just like a flower has to open up and receive sunlight, our hair cuticle has to be open enough to receive moisture, as well as keep it locked in.

Porosity is the measure of the hair’s ability to absorb moisture.  This is another reason why I rarely get caught up with hair-typing. Someone can have the same hair type as you but your porosity could be completely different from theirs. Because of this difference, all hairtypes are different and have individual needs. Pictured in this article is the hair strand in all three of its forms: compact, normal and raised.

Your hair may be on one of two ends of the spectrum. On one end, your hair cuticle may be entirely too compact. This would be called low porosity.When the hair cuticle isn’t receiving much moisture because it isn’t open wide enough, it’s compact and harder to penetrate. Lighter products would allow for the penetration of the cuticle in this situation.  You shouldn’t overdo the products in this case because you want to avoid build-up on the hair cuticle. Your hair could also be on the other end of the equation, which is called high porosity. When this happens, the hair cuticle is open entirely too much, which results in the hair having an insatiable quench for moisture because it doesn’t hold it.  Heavier moisturizers and leave-ins would accommodate a situation such as this. If your hair is thirsty, let it drink! Also be sure to use butters and oils to seal the moisture in. I have highly porous hair and have to moisturize more often than not.

If you fall under having normal porosity,then congrats! Retaining moisture in your hair should be a breeze and the least of your worries!

So the next question would be, how do I know what kind of porosity I have? All it takes is a simple strand test!
To find out what type of porosity your hair has, take a piece of shed hair and a cup. If you don’t know the difference between a shed hair and broken hair, take a look at the end of the hair. Does it have a white bulb at the end? If so, that’s a shed hair!

Fill the cup with water and drop your shed hair strand in it. If you hair sinks to the bottom immediately, well, you just found out that your hair has high porosity. If it floats on the top, your hair has low porosity. If it slowly sinks to the bottom, then your hair is normal.


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