Hair Porosity: To Leak or Not To Leak?

What exactly is hair porosity and what it means for afro-textured hair. Porosity is the state or property of being porous and porous is being able to soak up fluids, so porosity is measuring your hair's ability or inability to absorb moisture or chemicals deep into the cortex.

Too much porosity reduces the hair’s ability to retain moisture or fight breakage, symptoms of porous hair is one that is consistently bone dry no matter how much you wash, deep condition or moisturize it has no elasticity to it.


This particular structure for examining your hair is important because afro-textured hair (whether relaxed or natural NEEDS moisture on a daily basis in order to retain length and grow hair). It is also important to know your hair's level of porosity because each level reveals the condition of your hair and how to properly treat it.

High Porosity

Hair with high porosity is usually dry and brittle but don't be fooled because this hair can "feel" soft and moisturized when wet but loses it's moisture and softness once it becomes dry. This occurs because your hair's cuticle remains open and never closes allowing for easy absorption as well as releases.

Normal Porosity

In healthy normal hair, the cuticle is compact and holds back the penetration of the hair shaft from both moisture going in and moisture coming out.

Low Porosity

When the cuticle is overly compact and prevents the penetration of the hair by moisture it has low porosity. Hair with low porosity is harder to process, and is VERY resistant to treatments such as hair coloring and perms (similar to coarse textured hair ). Low porosity hair must usually be softened before any chemical services are performed.


Testing your porosity level is determined by the condition of the hair’s cuticle layer and how your cuticles respond to water or other liquids. Porosity is rated as high, normal, or low and is fairly easy to test. Below are a few tests you can do to figure out your hair's porosity and help you select the right products for your hair.

Test 1:

When washing your hair notice how long it takes for your hair to become saturated and fully wet. Hair that wets easily is porous, much like a new sponge. There is also a possibility that you hair could be covered with to products such as oils and conditioners. Additionally consider how long it takes your hair to dry, hair that dries quickly is porous as the cuticle layers are open and allow air flow.

Test 2:

Wash and condition your hair as normal. Towel dry (do not add any other products). Gather one strand of hair and run your index finger and thumb along the shaft starting from the end of the hair strand to the root. Low porosity will feel slick, normal porosity will feel smooth, and high porosity you will feel catches as you move your fingers down the hair shaft.

Test 3:

Take a few strands of hair (from comb or brush) and place in a bowl of water. If the hair sinks to the bottom of the bowl in less than a minute or two, it is porous. If only a part of the strand sinks your hair is porous in certain areas and this is quite common.


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