As you grow and mature you learn to listen to your body's needs. The same with any living thing. If the peace lily in your living room is drooping then your plant is telling you that it needs water. Welcome to your natural hair care journey where the same rules apply. As your natural hair grows you will learn to listen to what it needs on a daily/weekly and monthly basis. One of the ways that you can determine what your hair is craving at the moment is a regular at-home porosity test. Don’t worry! All you need is a glass of warm water and a strand of clean hair.
What is Hair Porosity?
Are your hair cuticles open or closed on each strand? It's as simple as that! Porosity is a word you might hear and see a lot from your favorite natural hair influencers. Your hair's porosity level will tell you if your strand’s cuticles are open or closed. It is a description of your hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. If your hair’s cuticles are open, you have high porosity hair and that means your hair loses moisture quickly. If they are closed, you have low porosity hair. Your hair's porosity level can change day-to-day or month-to-month and there is nothing wrong with that. Factors in porosity can depend on the amount of heat that you apply to your hair, sun exposure, various treatments, and more. If you see sudden changes in your hair's response to your staple products then it may be time to retest your levels.
How To Test Your Hair’s Porosity:
One of the ways that you can determine what your natural hair is craving at the moment is a regular at-home hair porosity test. Note that your hair's porosity can change regularly due to heat applications such as blow-drying, coloring your hair, protein treatments, deep conditioning, and more. So it's important to strand test your hair if you feel that your hair is giving you tell-tale signs that something has changed with its moisture levels.
The Float Test:
Grab a glass of warm water and drop in a clean/product free strand of hair. It is important to do this test on freshly washed and product-free hair so try it before you apply any conditioner. Within 5 minutes the strand will either float or sink to the bottom.
- If the strand floats or hovers beneath the surface you have Low Porosity Hair.
- If the hovers somewhere around the middle, you have medium or Normal porosity hair
- If the strand quickly sinks to the bottom then you have High Porosity Hair.
The Slip and Slide Test:
Starting on freshly washed hair, before conditioning, grab one of your strands and run your fingers up and down from root to tip and back up again. Do you feel bumps on your strand? If so, then your cuticles are lifted/open and your hair is high porosity. If your fingers seem to slip smoothly back and forth then your cuticles are closed. You have low porosity hair.
It is not abnormal to have different porosity levels on different parts of your head. So if you notice the back of your head is a bit drier than the top or reacts to products differently or if you know you recently suffered heat damage on a part of your head then you more than likely have different levels on different sections. If this is the case do not hesitate to test more than one area. Just don't go too crazy popping strands out left and right for the sake of a porosity test!
Why Do We Need To Know Our Hairs Porosity?
Every head of hair is different and each growth journey should be as personalized as possible. Your porosity level will tell you what your natural hair needs so that it can look and feel its best. This includes how often to deep condition, get protein treatments, and even the best method of layering products onto your hair.
Signs of Low Porosity Hair & LCO Method:
Do you stand in the shower on wash day and find that you have to wait forever for your hair to soak up the water and become drenched? When you apply a product does it seem to sit on top of your hair and sometimes cause a white film instead of your hair absorbing it? With a low porosity hair type your hair’s cuticle is tightly packed into itself and it neither lets moisture in nor does it let it out. As a result, products may often just sit on top of your hair and build up.
Your natural hair is a low porosity type if you find that it:
- Your hair takes a very long time to absorb water and become fully saturated with water.
- Your hair takes forever to dry. If you are air drying it can take days.
- Products seem to sit on top of your hair and not absorb as they should. You often experience the dreaded white film on your hair from product build-up.
- Deep conditioning treatments don’t absorb into the hair without heat or steam. Even if you leave them on for quite a while.
- If products seem to respond better when you pair them with warm water.
- Your hair absorbs products better on damp hair than if you try to apply them on dry hair.
- Your hair goes insane and wont style correctly when you use heavy oils and heavy butters. Low Porosity hair loves lighter-based natural sealing oils.
If this describes you then the LCO Method is the best option for you. For low porosity hair, moisture penetration and moisture training your natural hair are key, so the LCO method is the perfect way to go when styling your hair. Toss those thick hair butters and creams. Instead opt for watery or lighter spray-in leave-in conditioners, hair milks, and lighter natural hair oil. LCO is simply how to apply the product and in what order to apply it to your natural hair. Always apply gels last when adding them to this regimen.
(L) Liquid: Water & leave-in conditioner
(C) Cream: A lighter based styling cream or hair milk
(O) Oil: Its very important to use an oil that seals in moisture or otherwise known as a sealing oil such as the Commit Haircare Spring To Life Oil.
Signs of High Porosity Hair and LOC Method:
With a high porosity hair type, there is a decreased ability for your hair to retain moisture because your hair cuticles are open. You also have fewer protein bonds than those with low porosity. Have you noticed that your hair can be soaked right out of the shower or pool and your hair will be completely dry in a matter of minutes? Well, that's because water /moisture will enter your hair very quickly, but due to open hair cuticles it can leave just as fast. If this describes you then the LOC method should be your styling go-to.
Your natural hair is high porosity type if you find that it:
- Your hair dries quickly.
- Your hair tangles easily. This is due to cuticles being up and trends latch on to each other. Stretching your hair can eliminate these tangles and breakage.
- Hair can break faster due to tension from styles and styling. It's important to use the right tools and eliminate high-tension styling.
- Your hair can often appear dull so oils and thicker creams can be your best friend.
- Your conditioners respond without heat and you rarely need to deep condition.
If this describes you then the LOC Method is the best option for you. For high porosity hair, moisture penetration and moisture training your natural hair are key, so the LOC method is the perfect way to go when styling in for your natural haircare regimen.
(L) Liquid: Water + thicker-based leave-in conditioner. You want to fill those hair cuticles in with heavier products.
(O) Oil: Apply a penetrating oil. Without oil on your natural hair or heavier styling cream, any moisture that you use on your hair will quickly disappear due to the cuticles being open. A combination oil that has both sealing and moisturizing oils will work best for you such as the Commit Haircare Spring To Life Oil.
(C) Cream: Thicker and heavier styling creams for natural hair will give your high porosity hair its best results
With high porosity hair, it's important to deep condition your hair often as well as get protein treatments every 6 to 8 weeks for length retention.
Neither porosity level is better than the other, however knowing your levels is a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to caring for your natural hair, moisture training, and length retention.