Do You Know Your Child's Hair? Let's Talk Porosity-Part 1

The other day I misted Z's hair and noticed beads of product resting on top of her hair. I stared at the beads for a few moments until they magically disappeared into her hair. Then my natural curiosity kicked in: what factor(s) plays into our hair's rate of moisture absorption, retention, and loss.

I did some research on the matter and came across the topic of natural hair porosity. I have heard of it before but never thought much of it when it came to my hair. Now that Z's hair is of a different grade than mine, I figured it would be a good idea to learn why the same products and methods that work for my hair necessarily do not work for hers and vice versa. So on my quest to understanding hair porosity, I am going to share the gist of my findings thus far in a three part series. Part 1 will discuss what is porosity and the three levels of porosity your child can have on his/her hair.

What is porosity?
Porosity is a measure of how easily the hair absorbs and retains moisture and other products via the outer layer called the cuticle. Depending on the condition of the hair cuticle's (think fish gills), the hair can have the following levels of porosity:

Low Porosity Normal Porosity High Porosity
Low Porosity Normal Porosity High Porosity

Low Porosity:
  • Hair cuticles are tight and compacted (cuticles overlap)
  • Harder for hair shaft to absorb moisture; easier to retain moisture
  • More resistant to chemicals
  • Hair is more susceptible to product build up due to low absorption

Normal (Medium) Porosity:
  • Hair cuticles are slightly raised
  • Easy to moisturize and keep moisturized
  • Moisture is allowed to penetrate through the shaft as necessary
  • Ideal porosity level

High Porosity:
  • Hair cuticles are raised (porous)
  • Easy to absorb moisture; harder for hair shaft to retain moisture
  • Often times associated with damage due to external factors such as:
    • Thermal treatments (blow outs, hot combs, flat irons)
    • Mechanical handling (Rubbing wet hair with towel, brushing dry curly hair
    • Chemical processing (relaxers, texturizers, hair coloring) Source
  • Damage is irreversible due to holes and spaces present along the hair shaft
    • Primarily why water can be so easily absorbed
    • Can cause hair to lose it's elasticity and break away

Why is it important to understand hair porosity?
Knowing where your child's hair stands in regard to porosity can help aid in choosing the best products and implementing the best moisturizing routine to keep your child's hair well hydrated and strong. This translate to maximum length retention.

In Part 2 of the Let's Talk Porosity series, I will discuss various methods for testing your child's hair porosity and in Part 3, I will explain different techniques that can help maximize your moisturizing efforts on your child's natural hair depending on the porosity level.

Feel free to share your thoughts about hair porosity below. I am very interested in reading them!

Be blessed! :-)

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