What hair porosity is, the types and how to test it for natural hair

What is Hair Porosity?

Hair porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb and retain water or any other penetrating substance. In the past, I didn’t pay much attention to this, because I thought it was just more natural hair vocabulary I didn’t need. It was only 3 months ago when I started doing my research and applying it to my hair care, that I realized it is very important for us as naturals to know this.

The porosity of your hair most likely lies within a range. Either low porosity range to  balanced/medium and high porosity range. This test simply helps you to identify the different treatment methods you need to apply to your regimen based on your hairs’ needs

As opposed to the hair type categories of 1-4c which doesn’t really help you with how to care for your hair, I think it is fundamental to know your porosity level to know how to look after your hair and achieve or maintain healthy hair strands.

Knowing your hair based on porosity level, texture and density will give you a much better understanding of how to care for your unique hair. Porosity is only one piece of the puzzle.

Cuticle Category description

The cuticle layer state affects how your hair looks and by managing the cuticles you are able to control the appearance of your hair. Open cuticles are what cause frizz, which is the major sheen inhibitor. So, closing the cuticle layer results in flat and smooth hair shaft and shiny, soft and more manageable hair. (This is a whole other topic that I won’t be going into detail for this post)

Healthy cuticle (low to medium porosity)

This is characterized by laid/ flat multiple cuticles that are closed tightly

High porosity cuticle

Consists of lifted cuticles that have lost their tightness most likely due to damage. When hair gets too damaged from bad hair practices, you may develop thinning ends.

Everything you do from styling, washing, combing, dry hair and use of heat may increase your porosity level. However, some people with high porosity hair is not necessarily from damage but might be genetic. No need to worry! With a good hair care regimen, you too can have that shiny, healthy and elastic hair.

How to test your Porosity level

I started to read on how people can test their porosity and I personally chose these three tests. These tests are not accurate, but they will give you an idea of where you lie in the range

  1. Fingers test
size of hair strand to be tested, i scored non-porous for this test

Get a very small section of your hair (half the thickness of a pencil) from the front, middle and back of your head. Using both your thumb and index finger to hold the hair strands, gently glide you fingers up the strand. If you feel any roughness or resistance, this is an indication of lifted cuticles, which means that your hair is porous (might be between medium to high hair porosity).

  1. Sinking/float strand test


Hair strands are floating. I scored non-porous for this test

Get a small bowl or plastic cup and fill it with water at room temperature. On wash day, monitor and collect the strands that have fallen off different sections of your hair i.e. front, middle and back (for more accuracy you could include the side hair too). Place the strands lightly onto the surface and wait for about 2-4 mins. The faster the hair strand sinks, the higher the porosity. If it stays floating, you are most likely in the low porosity range.

  1. Drying test
Hair dried faster than my body. I scored porous for this test

On wash day, after stepping out of the shower before adding anything to your hair, don’t dry yourself (both body and hair). If your hair dries faster than your body, you are most likely higher in the porosity range.

How to determine your overall results

0/3 tests from the tests Low porosity range
1/3 from the tests Balanced/medium porosity
2/3 or 3/3 from the tests High porosity range


I scored 1 out of the 3 tests and concluded that my hair is most likely on the balanced/medium porosity level.

I hope this has been a clear introduction as to what hair porosity is and how to test for it. Stay tuned for the next post that will further describe the characteristics of low, medium and high porosity hair and how to care each unique category.

If you have any questions, please comment below and I will be happy to respond. Thank you for stopping by. See you soon

*Remember! You are marked by Flawless Craftsmanship*

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