Everyone was talking about porous hair, but meanwhile ‘damaged hair’ has taken on the role of advertising favorite and porosity has somewhat forgotten even though you may not hear much about it, whether or not your hair is porous plays an important role in determining proper hair care.

What exactly is porosity?

Porosity tells something about your hair’s ability to absorb and retain water. You can recognize the word pore in it. A pore, which you may know about your skin, is a small opening; the official meaning of porosity, therefore, has many small openings, and it is sometimes referred to as spongy.

When is your hair porous?

The outer layer of our hair consists of all scales. You could see them as roof tiles that protect us inside. They ensure that the moisture in your hair does not escape, and at the same time ensure that your hair does not absorb too much moisture from outside. This is both important because hydrogen compounds must consist of a certain amount of hydrogen atoms to ensure, among other things, firmness and strength of your hair because they keep the keratin proteins close together. With too little moisture, the hair dries out, and with too much moisture, the hair swells and becomes heavy so that it tears due to pressure.

When your hair is porous (high porosity) the scales do not actually do their job well, and the locks are open. This may be because there are too few scales, and they may also be raised. That, in turn, can have several causes that I will elaborate on immediately.

High or low porosity, what is best?

Low porosity is basically what you want: your hair retains the necessary moisture well and does not absorb too much-unwanted moisture. It is often a sign of healthy hair.

With a high porosity, moisture can easily get in and out of the hair. This often happens with damaged hair, because the cuticle layer is affected. This is what you would rather not want.

What is the cause of porous hair / high porosity?

That the scales no longer do their job well can be due to several things:

  • Damaged hair – Hair in which the scales are broken off, and holes may even have formed in the outer layer. Did you know that severely damaged hair absorbs almost twice as much water as healthy hair?
  • Bleaching / Painting – Is actually a bit damaged, but still deserves some extra attention. With chemical treatments, your scales are actually pulled open to destroy pigment (bleach) or add pigment (paint).
  • Dehydrated hair – If the hair has too little moisture, the hair shrinks, and the scales come to lie much closer to each other so that they open and you absorb hair.
  • The wrong acidity – Hair benefits the most from a pH between 4.7 and 6, then there is less static energy, which makes the scales stay flat better.
  • Dry hair / Not enough oil – The scales are helped by our own skin oil (sebum) in their water-repellent function.
  • Fine hair – Fine hair has a less thick cuticle layer, so there are fewer cuticles that can serve as a roof tile. Even with minor damage, holes may already fall in the outer layer.
  • Curly hair – Curly hair has a much flatter shape, and therefore the cuticle layer is different.

How do I know if my hair has high or low porosity?

There are tricks for it, including the water floating test :

  • Fill a glass with water
  • Take some hairs that have already come loose (do not pull your hair out)
  • Add this to the glass of water
  • If it floats, you have a low porosity
  • If it sinks, you have a high porosity
  • If it first floats for a while and then it sinks, then you are in between

But I remain of the opinion that this is not so reliable and you better rely on signals from your hair. Listen to your hair. It is trying to tell you something.

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