Curly ladies, we’ve all been there: we spend a ton of money buying all of these amazing curly hair products only to find that they don’t work for your curls. After hundreds of dollars spent, you start to wonder if these products are really the problem, or if the problem is actually your hair? Yes, curlies have a fairly difficult time finding products that works for them, but I find a lot of the time when we look for products, we don’t think about, or take responsibility for the current health of our curls. If your curls are damaged, then they aren’t going to respond to products as well as they would if your hair was in a healthy state. Curls are especially susceptible to damage from a variety of factors, and sometimes we’re the ones responsible and don’t even realize it. One of the best indicators of healthy curly hair is its porosity; how porous your hair is. The porosity level of your hair determines how capable your hair is at retaining moisture. Moisture retention is the key to growing healthy curls, so let’s talk porosity and how it can help you on your hair journey.
Hair porosity refers to the amount of moisture that your hair can absorb and retain. The more porous your hair is, the easier it is for moisture to enter the hair shaft. However, while moisture may enter the hair shaft easily, it will be released just as quickly. Hair with low porosity has the opposite effect; your hair cuticle is more tightly bound, making it more difficult for moisture to enter the hair shaft, but can retain moisture for longer periods of time.
Your hair will give you clues as to how porous it actually is. A great time to assess your hair’s porosity is during your wash routine. When initially wetting your hair, take note of how long it actually takes for your hair to fully absorb the water. If it takes more than 2 minutes for your hair to be fully saturated, it’s probably an indication that you have low-porosity hair. If the water absorbs fairly quickly, it’s more likely that you have high porosity hair. Also, take note of drying time. If your hair takes hours (or even days!) to dry completely, you probably have low porosity hair. If it dries in minutes, you may have high porosity hair.
The best way to fully assess your hair’s porosity is to do a strand test. Make sure your hair is thoroughly cleaned and washed before you do this test, as any product or oils on the hair will significantly alter your results – you want your hair as natural as possible. Fill a tall glass with water and take a couple strands of hair from your scalp. Drop the strands into the water and watch the hair for about 2-3 minutes. If the strands float to the top, then you have low porosity hair. If the strands sink the bottom, then you have high porosity hair. If the hair simply floats in the middle of the glass, then you have normal porosity hair. Normal porosity is ideal, because it means that your hair can absorb and retain the optimum amount of moisture when using moisturizing products or water.
Low porosity, or normal porosity hair is usually a sign of healthy hair. Low porosity hair has a more tightly bound cuticle which makes it a bit more difficult for moisture to enter the hair shaft. This hair type will typically be a lot shinier and softer, but is more susceptible to product-build up. If you have low porosity or normal porosity hair, you need to avoid using too much protein-enriched products on the hair, as it may cause your hair to start feeling stiff. Light moisturizers like Curl Keeper® Styling Cream are ideal for this hair type as it is a light daily leave-in conditioner that doesn’t cause any extra product build-up on the hair and scalp.
High porosity hair is usually a sign of damaged hair, and is most likely the result of chemical or colouring treatments, styling damage, or surface damage of your curls. High porosity hair tends to be more prone to breakage and frizz because of gaps and cuts in the cuticles of your hair strands, which is why it may be harder to retain moisture – the moisture goes in through the gaps and cuts, but it leaves the same way. For this hair type, it is helpful to start layering moisturizing and daily leave-in conditioners on your hair, and to do deep conditioning treatments regularly to help your hair get back to a healthy state so that it can retain moisture. Ultimately, doing this will help you grow luscious healthy natural curls!
Remember, your hairs porosity doesn’t only affect how your hair retains water, it affects how your hair retains moisture. Hair that is dry and damaged will not respond as well to products as hair that is healthy. Even if you have high porosity hair naturally, don’t fret! High porosity hair is manageable and with some tender love and care, your curls will be able to retain moisture in no time!