What is hair porosity : definition and main types

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You probably have heard of the various ways one can categorize one’s hair. Is your hair thin or is your hair thick? Does the texture fall into 3a or 4c? Has your hair suffered from any damage or is it still in pristine condition? However, these kinds of hair types don’t present the complete picture when you actually have to formulate a hair care regimen. We propose you include hair porosity as a factor for consideration.

Do you clearly understand the concept of hair porosity?
Do you clearly understand the concept of hair porosity?

If hair porosity has not yet belonged in your hair vocabulary, now might be the time for you to learn and up your game. Every single strand of hair on your head has a level of porosity that will dictate how it behave and what nutrient it needs. Each person’s hair will have a level of porosity that will ultimately decide what procedures and steps one may need. Understand your condition will help you make the best decisions relating to hair growth, shampoo as well as the kind of leave-in products you can utilize.

What is hair porosity exactly?

Hair porosity definition

Hair porosity is a spectrum of hair conditions concerning the hair’s ability to take in and retain moisture. Another way to look at this concept is to investigate how easily moisture enters your hair strand. How your hair strands take in or retain water as well as nutrients has many influencing factors ( as we will find out below) but genetics actually play a key part in it.

Porosity exist in all kinds of materials

Marble Has A Naturally Porous Surface
Marble, like hair, wood, and stone, has a naturally porous surface

Many natural materials you can find around your home and garden do have a certain degree of porosity. Wood, cement, marble, rock, or sponge all have their level of porosity. This refers to how they can absorb and hold the moisture by having a certain level of pores ( air pocket) on their surface. One of the most porous materials you can find in your kitchen is the sponge because much of its structures are empty air pockets. 

Your hair porosity is dictated by its structure

This applies similarly to hair strands. When your hair has a high porosity nature, the strand will contain a lot of air pockets occupying the outermost layer of your hair shaft. This concerns mostly the cuticle layers of our hair. Let’s explore all three layers that made up one’s hair shaft to fully understand the porosity concept.

Hair Structure
Cuticle, Cortex and Medulla – The Thee-part Hair Structure
  • The cuticle: The outermost layer of any hair shaft. This layer has many small cuticles that lie above each other, creating a shingle-like structure. The cuticle act as a tough protective shield for the hair.
  • The cortex: This layer makes up the biggest part of the hair. It is thick and comprised of fibrous proteins. The pigment that makes up your hair color also lies in this layer.
  • The medulla: Lie in the innermost part of the hair shaft, this layer is soft and tender.

See more: Hair cuticle and its functions

Why does the ability to take in and retain water matter?

Understand Your Hair Porosity Is Key To Good Hair Health
Understand Your Hair Porosity Is Key To Good Hair Health

Our hair, which is just like our skin, requires a lot of products and nutrients to stay healthy and hydrated. Water, various types of oils, and emollients should be able to infiltrate the hair shaft. If for some reason, your hair cuticles are too close and shut off, the water and various nutrients can not get through to feed your hair. This makes the hair dry and lacks the much-needed moisture. On the other hand, if the cuticles do not form a tight barrier, then your hair will not be able to hold onto the moisture it needs. 

Main types of hair porosity

Porosity Chart
Porosity Chart

Hair porosity can fall into one of these three grades. While there can be up to 5 grades to measure how porous your hair is for the professional, most people would do just fine if they understand these three simple types.

  • Low porosity: The cuticles shut off and lay closely next to each other
  • Medium porosity: Cuticles are not as cramped and tightly shut
  • High porosity: Cuticles have a lot of space between each other, leaving a wide pocket of air on the hair surface.

Figuring out what type you have will help you figure out the best care for your hair.

The factors that will affect how porous your strands are

Dyeing Ones Hair Can Effect The Porosity
Dyeing One’s Hair Can Effect The Porosity

Now you might ask, what is the driving factor behind this important feature of one’s hair? It turns out hair porosity has a lot to do with one’s genetics. If your mother and father have low porosity, there’s a great likelihood that you will do too. But genetics isn’t the sole reason contributing factor to this issue.

Heat treatment and chemical treatment are the number one culprit for increasing the cuticle gap. If you love blow-drying, bleaching, flat-ironing, or using harsh products, this will cause your hair problem over time. These processes ultimately raise up your hair cuticles, creating a lot of porous surfaces and ultimately, make it hard for hair to maintain its moisture balance.

The sun can actually do significant damage

Besides all of those man-made hair treatments, exposing your manes to the sun is another way one can increase its porosity grade. If you really don’t want to add injury to insult, be sure to only go out at certain hours and use all the necessary sun gear when it is required.

 As you can see, it’s not hard to understand what is hair porosity. However, there can be many myths surrounding this topic. Do you know clearly whether you have low porosity or high porosity? Have you done any tests to determine your porosity? What types of products should you use once you know your type? We will address this matter separately in next week blog’s post. We hope you find our piece useful. Until then, please keep being beautiful and rocking great hair!

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