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Thread: Porosity. What the Heck is it All About?

  1. #1

    Default Porosity. What the Heck is it All About?

    I am new-ish. I say, 'ish' because I have been lurking, spying on you hair-loving beauties for a year now (well, doesn't that sound creepy?) but only joined a couple of weeks or so ago. Some of you have taught me some things whether you know it or not. If I could remember exactly who taught me what, I would buy you each a box of hair-healthy chocolates and an, "Amazon" voucher. But because I do not, well, that idea is a no-go. Bummer huh? I never heard of 'porosity' regarding hair until I ran across its mentioning here a year ago. I did the water-in-the-glass test and my hair floated for awhile (what seemed like several minutes) before sinking. Because I have come to look to this site for hair matters, what does that mean? What porosity is my hair? Should I have done a few hairs during the test or is one sufficient? And is there a link as to porosity here someone could provide me with (please). Thanks. What does the porosity my hair has mean for it? Does it also work as a gauge as to what products, methods, treatments and such to use? Can the hair's porosity change from anything we do, or do not do to the hair (such as washing less or more, processing the hair, falling ill)? Or is it something that is determined in the womb and then stays that way?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Default Re: Porosity. What the Heck is it All About?

    The float test has been debunked, see the Natural haven blog. There is also an excellent article on porosity by 'curl chemist' Tonya McKay on NC on porosity. Sorry cant link this time as on my phone but you can find them via Google. Coconut oil can reduce porosity, anything damaging can increase it.
    Dyed-in-the-wool redhead, growing out a major shed & mechanical damage to hairline. Eight years 'modified' Curly Girl, just past BSL stretched but keep trimming.

  3. #3
    Member Night_Kitten's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default Re: Porosity. What the Heck is it All About?

    I have no idea about how to interpret the results of the float test, but from what I know, the porosity depends both on the hair type (some hair is naturally more porous than other) and on how the hair is treated.
    Permanent dye, bleach, heat-styling and such increase porosity as they damage the hair cuticle, and the thumb rule is that the more damaged the hair the more porous it will be...
    Porous hair absorbs things better (moisture, color...) but can't hold on to moisture well, so very porous hair tends to be dry without extra care...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    Default Re: Porosity. What the Heck is it All About?

    Hi! I noticed you posted two of the same threads. This one is more active so I will move my reply here.

    ''Hi Dark Star!

    The float test is considered unreliable by many people. It gives low porosity for almost everyone, also for people who have done a hair analysis or different tests which indicate a higher porosity.

    Best way to determine porosity is to take one strand of hair and move your finger from the bottom up to the shaft, or do a hair analysis. If the hair feels smooth, you have low porosity. If the feels bumpy and rough, you have high porosity. Anything in between is medium porosity. You can read more information about porosity, testing your porosity, etc. here:

    Hair porosity means to what extent to cuticle is lifted. Hair porosity is determined by genetics, but porosity can be greatly increased by damage. Most of my hair is medium porosity due to normal wear and tear, but the hair on top is low porosity!

    If you have low porosity, the cuticle is very compact, closed, which means it is difficult for moisture to enter the hair shaft. It is also difficult for moisture to leave the hair once it is in there. If you do deep treatments, be sure to use heat to open the cuticle a little bit! You can finish with cold water to close it again. Low porosity is considered quite healthy. It doesn't take dyes very well (obviously). It is relatively shiny, and not very prone to tangles because the hair is smooth. It takes long for your hair to air dry because the water can't leave the hairshaft.

    Medium porosity doesn't let too much moisture in, and doesn't let too much out either. Is average when it comes to shine and tangles. Can handle most ingredients quite well, but that also depends on other hair properties. Dying and such can be done with predictable results.

    High porosity is when the cuticle is very open. It lets too much moisture in, and out. Sealing is very important to keep some moisture in. And finish with a cold water rinse to close the cuticle a bit. Prone to overconditioning, so be careful with oils and conditioning ingredients (clarify every now and then). It is not very shiny and tangles easily. More prone to breakage. High porosity hair tends to like protein.

    Sunlight, dying, perming, wear and tear, friction, overusing drying ingredients, etc will all increase porosity!

    I doubt you can decrease the porosity of your hair from high to low, though my hair has become less tangly and more shiny since taking MUCH better care of it the last year.

    The new hair that grows from your scalp is determined by genetics. As far as I know nothing can change that, or perhaps a major improvement in diet, if your current food intake sucks...

    Hope this helped!! ''
    2c/3a M iii (5.9'' circumference), medium porosity, high elasticity. BSL~MBL~Waist~Hip~BCL~TBL~Classic~Mid-thigh

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