Hår porøsitet

Hair porosity: How it affects your hair products

by Lotte Lindgren on Oct 09, 2023

Read through by Dorthe Kristensen

Hairdresser and former co-owner of the award-winning hairdressing chain Zoom by Zoom
With many years of experience in the hairdressing industry, Dorthe has advised many customers about hair and hair care. Dorthe has read through this blog entry to ensure high quality and professionalism. This blog post is professionally updated on February 1, 2024.

Table of contents

How does your hair porosity affect the choice of the right products? If you've ever wondered why certain hair products work better than others, the answer may lie in your hair's porosity. In this article, we will explore the concept of "hair porosity" and take a closer look at how different types of porous hair react to different products. We will also give you tips to determine the porosity of your own hair and recommendations for the best products for your particular hair.

Table of contents

What is hair porosity?

An interesting fact about hair porosity is that it can be affected by genetics, environment and hair coloring.

Hair porosity refers to the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture and nutrients. It can vary between low, medium and high porosity. Low porosity hair has a protective layer around it that makes it difficult for products to penetrate the hair. Products for low porosity hair should be light and moisturizing for better absorption.

Definition of hair porosity

Hair porosity refers to the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. This can have a significant impact on how hair products work and which products are most suitable. There are three types of hair damage related to porosity: low porosity, medium porosity and high porosity. Low porosity implies a dense outer layer that makes it difficult for moisture to penetrate the hair, while high porosity implies a damaged outer layer that causes the hair to easily lose its moisture balance. Understanding your hair's porosity level will help you choose the right products for optimal hair care.

How is hair porosity measured?

Methods for determining hair porosity include the flow test, water test, and finger pull test. Signs and symptoms of low porosity may include difficult absorption of products, while medium porosity may be characterized by optimal product absorption. High porosity can lead to rapid moisture loss and damaged hair strands. Factors such as frequent coloring or chemical treatment, excess heat styling and sun damage can negatively affect the hair's porosity level.

Types of hair porosity

Low Porosity - Hair with low porosity has a dense and flat scale structure, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate. It requires products with light and water-based ingredients to avoid product residue build-up and provide adequate hydration.

Medium Porosity - Hair with medium porosity has a balanced scale structure that allows moisture to penetrate without problems. It can benefit from a wide range of hair products, but still needs to be aware of the correct balance between protein and moisturizing treatments.

High Porosity - Hair with high porosity has an open scale structure that quickly absorbs moisture. This can lead to excess frizz and hardness in the hair. Products with intense hydration as well as protein treatments are necessary to repair the damaged hair structure and retain moisture for a longer time.

Low porosity

Characteristics of low porosity:

  • The hair has a dense and compact structure
  • Difficult to absorb and retain moisture
  • Oils and hair products can build up quickly

The benefits of knowing your hair porosity:

  • Option to choose the right products for your hair
  • Better absorption of care ingredients
  • More control over frizz and flyaway hair

Recommended hair products for low porosity:

  • Light, water-based products that do not weigh hair down
  • Moisturizing leave-in conditioners with humectants such as aloe vera or glycerin

Medium porosity

Characteristics of medium porosity: Medium porosity hair has a moderate ability to absorb and retain moisture. It can be resistant to styling products and has a balance between elasticity and durability.

How does medium porosity hair affect your styling options? Medium porosity hair allows you to experiment with different hairstyles as it is more flexible than low porosity hair. It also absorbs products better and holds curls or waves for longer.

Product tips for medium porosity hair: To maximize results with your medium porosity hair, use light, water-based products that won't weigh it down. Avoid heavy oils or wax-based formulations as they can make hair greasy or sticky. Also use regular deep cleansing shampoo to remove product build-up without drying out the hair.

High porosity

Signs and Characteristics of High Porosity: Hair with high porosity tends to absorb moisture quickly, but it also loses the same moisture quickly. This often results in dry and frizzy hair as well as weakened elasticity.

"Problems" associated with hair closure and how to fix them: Hair with high porosity can have problems such as over-absorption of products, making it difficult for nourishing ingredients to penetrate the hair. To solve this, it can be good to use lightweight products and avoid heavy oils or creams.

Best products for caring for high porosity hair: Some of the best products for caring for high porosity hair include moisturizing shampoos, conditioners and leave-in conditioners. It is also important to use a deep treatment regularly to rebuild the hair's structure and reduce porosity.

Effects of hair porosity

Hair porosity can have a significant impact on the hair's ability to absorb moisture. The more porous the hair, the faster it absorbs moisture from the environment and products, which can lead to dryness and frizz. It is important to choose hair products that are specially formulated to improve and maintain moisture levels in porous hair.

Porous hair also has difficulty retaining moisture. Because the scales on the porous hair do not lie completely flat, they cannot prevent water molecules from escaping the hair again. This results in dryness and lack of shine. Using products with intensive moisturizing properties and subsequently sealing the cuticle layer will contribute to a more hydrated result in porous hair

How does porosity affect the hair's ability to absorb moisture?

The porosity of the hair plays a crucial role in its ability to absorb moisture. The more porous the hair, the easier it can absorb and retain moisture. Porous hair strands have multiple small holes and cracks along the cuticle layer, allowing water molecules to penetrate the hair and maintain its hydration.

On the other hand, low porosity can limit the hair's ability to absorb moisture. If the cuticle layer is tightly packed, it will be more difficult for water molecules to penetrate the hair strands. This can result in a dry appearance and lack of hydration of the hair. It is therefore important to choose the right products and care routines based on your hair porosity for optimal moisture absorption.

How does porosity affect the hair's ability to retain moisture?

Porosity plays a crucial role in the hair's ability to retain moisture. Hair with high porosity tends to absorb moisture quickly, but also lose it just as quickly. On the other hand, low porosity hair may have difficulty absorbing moisture effectively. In order to maintain optimal moisture balance, it is important to use care techniques that suit the hair's porosity level.

  • Moisture absorption and retention
  • Care techniques for low, medium and high porosity

How does porosity affect the hair's ability to receive and retain color?

Color technology and porosity play a decisive role in the hair's ability to receive and retain color. Porous hair absorbs the dye faster, which can result in a deeper and more intense color. But it can also lead to uneven coloring and shorter durability of the color due to increased pigment leaching. For better results, it is recommended to use products specially designed for porous hair that contain moisturizing ingredients to help keep the color longer. Read more about hair color here . 

Tips for coloring different types of porous hair:

  • For low-porosity hair: Use heat during the treatment improves the absorption of the dye.
  • For medium-porous hair: Using a pre-color treatment can help balance the hair's structure before dyeing.
  • For high-porosity hair: Gradual application is key, starting with the most damaged areas and working your way up gradually rather than evenly

Recommended hair products for different porosities

Hair porosity plays an important role in choosing your hair products. For low porosity, light products such as oils and leave-in conditioners are recommended. For medium porosity hair, it is best to use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner as well as protein treatment once a week. High porosity requires products with intense moisture and nourishment, such as deep-acting masks and oil treatments to repair damaged hair. It is important to choose the right products for your hair type in order to achieve the desired effect on your hair.

Low porosity

Signs of low porosity:

  • Hair takes a long time to dry after washing
  • Products lie like a film on the hair instead of being absorbed
  • Color treatments have difficulty penetrating the hair

How low porosity hair reacts to products:

  • Requires light and moisturizing products as heavy products can make hair look greasy
  • Needs heat or steam during treatment for better product absorption
  • Oils and other oil-based products can sit on the outside of the hair without effect

Recommended hair products for low porosity:

  • Light conditioner with moisturizing properties
  • Leave-in conditioners that help balance the moisture level in the hair
  • Coconut oil or conditioner for pre-poo treatment

Medium porosity

Characteristics of medium porous hair: Medium porous hair has a moderate ability to absorb and retain moisture. It has a smooth surface but can still be subject to damage from chemical treatments or heat styling.

Treating medium porous hair with the right products: To maintain the right balance in medium porous hair, it is important to use products that moisturize the hair without weighing it down. Avoid heavy oils and creams and choose light balms and serums instead.

Recommended hair products for medium porosity: Some recommended products for medium porosity include protein-based shampoos and conditioners to strengthen the hair and leave-in conditioners for extra moisture. Also use thermal protection before heat styling to minimize damage to the hair.

High porosity

Signs of high hair porosity may include rapid product absorption, difficulty retaining moisture, and easy breakage of hair fibers. To prevent damage and dryness in highly porous hair, it is important to choose suitable products that provide sufficient nourishment and protection. Recommended hair care products for more susceptible ends for better product absorption include leave-in conditioners, low molecular weight oils and protein treatments.

How to determine your hair porosity

Hair porosity is an important factor to consider when choosing your hair products. To determine your hair porosity, you can perform three simple tests: the Float test, the Slide test and the Spray test. These tests help determine whether your hair has low, medium or high porosity, which will affect which products are best for your hair.

Float testing

The float test is a simple but effective way to determine the porosity of your hair. To perform the float test, place a clean strand of hair in a bowl of water and observe what happens. Here are some indications you can get from the float test:

  • If the hair floats on the surface, it has low porosity.
  • If the hair sinks slowly to the bottom of the bowl, it has normal porosity.
  • If the hair sinks quickly to the bottom of the bowl or immediately hits the bottom without floating first, it has high porosity.

Depending on the result of your float test, you can adjust your hair products for optimal care. Here are some guidelines based on the porosity level:

  • Low Porosity:
  • Use light and moisturizing products to avoid build-up and heaviness.
  • Avoid heavy oil and products with proteins.
  • Normal Porosity:
  • Choose products according to your specific needs, such as focusing on volumizing or moisturizing.
  • Use regular conditioners and deep treatments.
  • High Porosity:
  • Focus on repair and strengthening with protein-rich products.
  • Avoid heat styling and other factors that can increase wear.

Always remember to adapt your routine based on your own hair and experiment with different products to find the perfect balance. The float test can be a useful tool to understand your hair's porosity and make more informed care decisions.

Slide the test

Hair porosity can be determined using the wear test. The purpose of this test is to assess the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. By correctly performing the slide test, you can get a step-by-step guide that ensures accurate results. The results of the wear test indicate the degree of porosity in the hair and require adaptations in the hair routine to achieve optimal care and styling.

(The purpose of the slide test is that we can find out how porous your hair is. Guide that tells you how to perform this correctly will ensure accurate results from here)

The results from the wear tests show us how much the scalp absorbs oiled or embalmed products, which means the more absorption there is, the more open your cuticles are (and of course vice versa). With these results, your current hair care routine must be adjusted for optimal cleaning products, nutrition and styling products.

Spray the test

  • Take a small section of your hair and give it a light spritz of water.
  • Observe how the hair reacts to the water.

Hair porosity can be determined using the splash test. When you spray some water on a section of your hair, you will be able to observe how the hair reacts. Porous hair will absorb water quickly and become heavy and difficult to dry. Non-porous hair, on the other hand, will shed water and remain light and quick-drying. By knowing the porosity of your hair, you can choose the right products to care for it effectively.

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