Hair porosity is the ability of hair to absorb and retain moisture and to properly take in color, or any other hair treatment. Porosity is determined by the state of the outer protective coating of the hair shaft. Porous strands have raised cuticles, which makes it impossible for your hair to retain moisture.
Highly porous hair quickly absorbs moisture, but water is lost through the damaged cuticle layer just as quickly as it is absorbed. High porosity hair feels dry and tends to be frizzy and coarse. Such hair is difficult to comb, and you may notice many split ends and excessive hair shading.
If you know your hair’s porosity, you will be able to select the proper treatment and products that work for your hair condition.
Why is Your Hair Porous?
Genetics: Like some other hair characteristics, the level of porosity can be inherited.
Chemical/heat damage: In most cases, a damaged cuticle layer and highly porous hair are the results of over-manipulation, frequent thermal styling, and repeated chemical treatments, such as coloring and chemical straightening.
What Problems May You Experience if You Have Overly Porous Hair?
Hair tangling: The raised cuticles make strands rougher, and therefore prone to tangles, as well as being difficult to manage.
Hair breakage: low moisture retention causes hair to look and feel dry and dull, and to become prone to split-ends and breakage.
Frizz: high porosity hair easily absorbs water due to raised cuticles, and takes more effort to combat frizz.
Faster color fading: high porosity speeds the progression of color fading because the raised cuticle allows the color molecules to wash away quickly.
Uneven hair dye: hair dyes tend to grab unevenly on porous hair, so it may be difficult to achieve even coverage.
Over-absorption of products: due to raised cuticles, perm solutions and relaxers are absorbed too quickly, resulting in damaged and over-dry hair.
How to Fix Porous Hair
Protein treatments: Overly porous hair needs a protein that fills in the gaps within the damaged cuticle layer, helping the hair to retain moisture. Protein treatments should be alternated with deep conditioning treatments in order to maintain the correct moisture protein balance.
Deep conditioning: Hair masks for overly porous hair seal in moisture by closing the cuticles and making porous hair softer, more manageable, and frizz-free. You will be able to style your curly hair using lighter products than usual.
Hair Care Products for High Porosity Hair
Use sulfate-free shampoos made with naturally delivered cleansers, which are rich in hydrating ingredients, to increase moisture retention.
Natural oils such as coconut, avocado, almond, and olive oils will coat and seal the cuticle, and prevent moisture from escaping.
Shea Moisture has an entire product line based on hair porosity levels. The Shea Moisture High Porosity collection includes Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-seal Shampoo, High Porosity Moisture-Seal Co-Wash, High Porosity Moisture-Seal Finishing Elixir, High Porosity Moisture-seal Styling Gel, and High Porosity Seal Masque.
Porosity equalizers are for use before or after chemical treatments. These products ensure more even absorption of chemical solutions, enhancing the results of perms, relaxing, and coloring.
One product is a life-saver for individuals with over processed, overly porous hair—a protein filler. The neutral protein filler helps to repair damaged protein bonds and to reduce breakage after chemical treatments. This product is especially handy when you need to color your high porosity hair. Protein fillers are used as a pre-color treatment to equalize hair porosity and to prepare your hair for better color absorption and more consistent results.
Keratin-Enriched Hair Care Products
Keratin-enriched hair care and styling products will restore missing protein and increase your hair’s ability to retain moisture. Keratin helps to restore the cuticle layer, making your hair less porous and easier to detangle.
Keratin rinse out conditioners reduce friction and prevent static, making your hair smoother and easy to comb.
A keratin hair mask helps to increase your hair’s elasticity, to soften roughness, and to increase manageability.
Leave-in conditioners infused with keratin and hair oils give you smoother, more shiny hair.
Hair Treatments Suitable for Porous Hair
High porosity hair should not be exposed to harsh chemicals. If you dye your hair, make sure you include protein fillers as a pre-color treatment, or ask your stylist to incorporate a bond multiplier such as Olaplex in your color service, in order to minimize the possibility of breakage.
To refresh your color, and to reduce the frequency of your color sessions, you can apply hair glaze between color services. Hair glazes fill the gaps of porous hair strands and prolong your color results.
Relaxers and perms may cause irreversible damage to your already over-processed strands. Try hair Botox instead, as this treatment will improve your hair’s appearance without causing any damage.
If you have overly-porous hair, consider incorporating a pre-shampoo treatment into your hair care regimen. Pre-wash hair treatments are formulated to protect your hair from drying effects of hair shampoo and provide nourishment for your dry, porous locks. These treatments are supposed to be applied prior to shampooing to lock in moisture, increase elasticity, and provide a good slip for detangling. They also make hair looking healthier, softer, and shinier.