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What is Hair Porosity?

Hair Porosity describes how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture and oils.

Testing your hair for its Porosity

To test the porosity of your hair, you can do a float test. To do this,

  1. Shampoo and rinse your hair well to remove any product build-up.
  2. Dry your hair as usual.
  3. Take a strand of your hair and drop it into a clear glass of room temperature water.
  4. Watch the hair strand to see where it floats.
  • If your hair floats at the top for a while before sinking toward the bottom of the glass, then you most likely have low porosity hair
  • If your hair floats somewhere near the middle of the glass, then you most likely have medium porosity hair
  • If your hair sinks to the bottom of the glass fairly quickly, then you most likely have high porosity hair

Another way to test your hair for its porosity is to spray your hair with water. Generally, if the porosity of your hair is low, your hair wouldn’t absorb any of the water right away, leaving the droplets to sit on top of the hair, however high porosity hair will absorb the water immediately.

Medium porosity hair falls somewhere in the middle, and tends to absorb the water at a moderate pace.

Characteristics of Hair Porosity

Before we talk about the characteristics of hair porosity, let us define these terms that you may have come across on this subject

  • The Hair Cuticle - This is the outermost layer of your hair. It comprises individual cuticles that overlap each other, like the tiles on a roof.
  • The Cortex - This is the middle and thickest layer. It contains fibrous proteins and pigments that give your hair its colour.
  • The Medulla –This is the central, innermost layer of the hair shaft.

Low Porosity Hair

The cuticles of low porosity hair tend to overlap each other and are tightly packed together. There are no spaces between the cuticles and this makes it harder for water, as well as products like oils and conditioners, to deliver moisture to the hair shaft, thus, hair products tend to sit on the hair instead of being absorbed. For instance, if you have low porosity hair, you will notice that if you apply an oil or moisturizer to the ends of your hair, the product is still on the surface of your hair about 30 minutes later. Your hair probably absorbed very little, if any, of the product.

The hair takes a long time to air-dry once it’s wet, it can also be difficult to get your hair really wet and for the water to fully penetrate your hair because water isn’t easily absorbed.

However, there are certain ingredients that can make low porosity hair easier to care for. Knowing the types of products to use, and which ones to avoid, can make a difference in the manageability and health of your hair. 

High Porosity Hair

On the other hand, high porosity hair is most likely the result of heat or styling damaging the cuticle layer, this hair cuticles are usually raised and have spaces between them (see the picture below). This can make it hard for the hair shaft to retain moisture. It releases the moisture as quickly as it takes it in. Some common characteristics of high porosity hair to look out for includes; frizz, extreme dryness, and lack of shine, these are physical indicators that you have hair with high porosity.


Caring for Different Hair Porosities

Having a low or high porosity hair isn’t good or bad, both hair porosities, if cared for in the right way will result in healthy and long hair, the most important thing is to find products that have the right formulation for your hair porosity hair as well as understanding the techniques to handling different hair porosities.

Low Porosity Hair

When you have low porosity hair, you may be tempted to apply a larger quantity of a product, or more than one hair product at a time, in an effort to saturate your hair, but not much product will penetrate your hair, no matter how much you apply because the cuticles are so close together,

Some very helpful tips and techniques include;

  • Apply products when your hair is wet and warm. Heat can lift the hair cuticle, allowing oils and moisture to penetrate the hair shaft more easily
  • Use shampoos containing oil or glycerin
  • Try to do a weekly or 2-weekly deep conditioning treatment using some form of heat like a heat cap, steamer, hooded dryer or even a blow dryer on the warm setting over the shower cap on your head for a few minutes. Heat helps the conditioner to penetrate your hair cuticles more easily and open them to give your hair some extra boost of moisture.
  • Stay clear from protein treatment conditioners as this can increase the risk of hair breakage since they tend to pull moisture out of the hair.
  • Use the Liquid-Cream-Oil, LCO Method to moisturise your hair properly.

High Porosity Hair

Some very helpful tips and techniques for high porosity hair includes;

  • Rinse out your high porosity hair with cold water at the end of a showerWash out any products thoroughly using cold water, as the colder temperature helps the conditioning and moisturizing products to have a more lasting effect. Unlike hot water, cold temperatures force your hair cuticle cells to close, which keeps the newly-added conditioner inside of each hair strand for longer
  • Use a number of items ranging from conditioning butters to moisturizing hair creams.
  • Use shampoo and conditioners containing coconut oil.
  • Aloe vera gel is another great moisturizing agent that you can use to rub through your hair
  • Try to use products that have a lot of protein in them, this helps your high porosity hair become stronger
  • Try to use less heat/chemicals on your hair as applying a lot of heat to your hair with curlers and straighteners can damage and further raise the porosity of your hair.
  • Use the L.O.C moisturizing method, this means Liquid, Oil and Cream. As you moisturize your hair, don't let all that conditioning work go to waste by not holding that moisture in.
  • Use heavy butters like shea or mango as the "cream" sealants. Use a lighter hand with the butter if your hair is relaxed, but focus on the ends, every night if necessary.
  • Good oils to use on high porosity hair include Grapeseed and Jojoba for relaxed hair or Shea butter and Mango butter for natural hair. Whether your hair is natural or relaxed, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil and Almond Oil also work well

Medium Porosity Hair

Use a mix of moisturizing and strengthening products for medium porosity hair. Do not worry about changing your hair care routine if you have medium porosity hair, though we advise to invest in quality hair products such as the Harmony Naturals Natural Haircare Collection to keep your hair very healthy.

 Keep your hair products well-rounded, and be sure to have an equal amount of conditioners and protein-heavy strengthening products.


Here are some suggestions if you want to know what types of ingredients and products tend to work for different hair porosities

Recommended Products for Different Hair Porosities

Low Porosity

For low porosity hair, we recommend hair products that contain honey or glycerine as well as shampoos that do not leave a lot of residue in your hair.

Use shampoos, conditioners, and other products that contain natural oils like Grape seed, Argan, and Almond. These oils naturally provide a lot of moisture to low porosity hair, which helps to condition your hair more effectively. 

These products will have ingredients that can more easily penetrate your hair

High Porosity

The Brazilian Nut + Keratin Strengthen and Nourish Leave-in Lotion is a great protein-based moisturizer that we recommend for high porosity hair as it contains a healthy dose of vegetable keratin. it bonds  to the hair strands filling in lost protein as well as protecting the hair and helps repair damage 

For all hair porosity types, we recommend using silk or satin scarves and pillowcases as these keep the moisture in that cotton is known to absorb

We recommend the  Harmony Naturals Natural Haircare Collection for those with Natural hair as this product is an all-rounder and will work well whether your hair is low or high porosity. Just make sure you follow the recommended helpful tips and techniques in your hair care routine


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