How to detect porous or non-porous hair

By | February 15, 2017
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Is Your Hair Porous Or Non-Porous?

hair loss

So how do you tell if your hair is porous or non-porous? What does the term really mean? What is your hair type? Is there a connection to it? Let’s take a look.

What Does The Term Really Mean?

According to ‘Porosity is the quality of being porous, or full of tiny holes. Liquids go right through things that have porosity.’ [1] The word has its origin from the Greek word ‘poros’ meaning ‘passage’. So, your clothing might be porous – allowing liquids to pass through. However, your raincoat might not be because it is impermeable -impenetrable – not allowing anything (liquid) to pass through.

Hair porosity simply refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture – how much liquid it allows to pass through its cuticle. Porosity can be low, normal, or high.

How To Determine Hair Porosity

You can do this by doing this any one of these hair porosity tests. It is really simple to do.

The Strand Test

I usually do this on wet hair – after you have washed your hair or you can simply wet a section for the test. Now, don’t go pulling at your hair strands. Gently stretch a tiny section of strands from different areas – the front hairline, nape, crown and temple.

Hold it somewhat taut with one hand and then use the other hand to glide from the tips towards the root, using your tactile faculty to ‘feel’ if the hair feels hard or rough. If it does, then it is a great chance that your hair has low porosity. If it feels smooth, you have normal porosity. And if the strands feel rough or somewhat dry, or it might even break, then chances are that your hair has a high porosity.

2/ The Shedding Test

This one is easy to do. Take some hair from a comb or brush, then put it a container (preferably a glass one that you can see through as well) filled with water. If the hair floats, the hair has low porosity. If the hair sinks slowly, it has normal porosity. If it sinks immediately, then it has a high porosity.

3/The H20 Test

This is also another easy one to do. Using a spray bottle with water, spritz a small section of your hair and see what happens. If your hair absorbs the water quickly, then it has high porosity; if it ‘sits’ on top of the hair, then it has low porosity.

Now while these tests help to give you an idea about the porosity of your hair, there are still some other factors to consider as well.

Additional Factors Which Help To Determine Hair Porosity:

Low porosity hair:

  • hair takes a longer than usual time to dry
  • hair products build up versus absorb into the hair
  • natural oils do not penetrate but sit on the hair
  • the hair takes longer to become wet

Normal porosity hair:

  • hair is elastic and have a wonderful level of bounce
  • very little maintenance is required to keep it healthy
  • it shines or reflects light beautifully
  • the moisture balance is in balance
  • it holds hair color and styles well

High porosity hair:

  • the hair absorbs water easily and uses more products
  • hair feels and looks dry more often than not
  • hair is prone to frizz
  • hair dries very quickly

Now that you have an idea about hair porosity, let’s see how we can help the hair in any of the cases.

Hair Care For Porous Hair

Low Porosity

Because this type of hair has very closed cuticles, giving the right amount of moisture might be a challenge. The best way to do this is:

  • use heat – doing a deep condition with moisturizing products and either using a hooded dryer, a steamer, a plastic cap, or a simple warm towel to cover the hair for about 15 minutes. The cuticle will expand and absorb better.
  • ensure that hair products are evenly combed through the hair
  • squeeze excess water from the hair before applying products
  • try using more natural products like sulphate-free shampoos, apple cider vinegar rinses, or baking soda to help reduce product build-up.

Normal Porosity

The cuticles will easily allow moisture to penetrate.

  • maintain hair with regular deep conditioning treatments
  • occasional hair rinses with apple cider vinegar to help reduce build-up

High Porosity 

Hair in this category needs a little bit more help to retain as much moisture as possible -constant hydration.

  • reduce direct heat on the hair and consider air drying if at all possible
  • do regular deep conditioning treatments
  • rinsing with cold water helps to seal the cuticle and reduce frizz
  • handle hair gently

I hope you have found this information useful and that you will implement it to see a new look to your mane event!

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Hair Product Suggestions:

1/Organic Coconut Oil Deep Conditioner Hair Mask

2/BEST Dynamic Hair Conditioner – Sulfate Free Scalp Treatment

3/Organic Prestige Shampoo and Conditioner Set – Sulphate Free

4/Morrocan Method Organic Products – Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, Floating Lotus Conditioner






4 thoughts on “How to detect porous or non-porous hair

  1. Jeannie Brickley

    Hi Michelle.

    Your post on how to detect porous or non-porous hair was interesting. I think my hair is porous on the ends and nonporous toward the scalp. Is that possible?

    My hair gets greasy near the scalp; but the ends are dry and break. I have to keep having the strings trimmed off because it breaks off and makes the bottom ragged and thin. I must admit that I probably don’t take as good of care of it as I should. I want long hair; but I find it a time consuming nuisance sometimes.

    This was a very informative and well written post.


    1. Michelle

      Hello Jeannie,

      Thanks for visiting my site and taking the time to voice your thoughts. Your question is a very interesting one indeed. In my opinion, I think that that can be possible. If your hair is damaged or thinning out at the ends, without a doubt the hair structure will be challenged and this could result in some form of porosity along a single strand.

      Of course, the best plan of action would be to cut off the damaged end and then start a moisturizing hair care regimen to nourish the rest of the hair strand. Try doing some deep conditioning process that works best with your time schedule as I outlined in the article.

      Yes, hair care can be time-consuming, however, in the long term, it will reward you with a luxurious head of hair. To combat the greasy scalp syndrome, maybe you need to detox your scalp more often to avoid or reduce buildup which can lead to greasiness.

      Please leave any questions on the site and I will be more than happy to help give you suggestions for your hair care.


  2. Cathy

    Very interesting read on hair porosity. I didn’t even know that they exist. After running a few experiments that you described, I found out that my hair is likely of normal porosity.

    I do deep conditioning once a week which is fairly sufficient to keep it moist in my opinion. You mentioned using vinegar – what is it for again?

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

    1. Michelle

      Hello there Cathy,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, most people don’t realize how their hair operates in so many different circumstances. And the most important thing is information and using this information to bring out the best in your hair.

      I was also surprised when I discovered information about porosity and hair. You are on the right track with a regimen of weekly deep conditioning. It will indeed keep your moisture balance in check, especially during the drier months of the year.

      Apple cider vinegar helps to neutralize or balance the hair porosity by cleansing as well as closing the hair cuticle and making your hair shine.

      Much success as you discover your hair. You are welcome to visit from time to time and see what’s new.



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