6 Signs of High Porosity Hair + 8 Hair Care Tips

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By now, you may have heard about high porosity hair.

Hair porosity, in general, has become a hot topic haircare buzzword, especially for those who love to maintain their natural hair.

But what is it? And is knowing your hair porosity that important?

On average, many people don’t think much about the porosity of their hair. But hair porosity plays a significant role in keeping your locks healthy.

A young woman with curly hair smiling on a gray background

Hair porosity determines how well products work on your tresses.

In this article, we’ll help you determine what porosity is, how to know if you have high porosity hair, and how to care for it properly.

What Is Hair Porosity?

First, let’s talk about hair porosity.

The best way to understand porosity is to picture a sponge. We know that a sponge absorbs liquid quickly because of numerous holes called pores.

That absorbing ability is called “porosity.” It’s how water or other fluids can easily pass through small holes and get into an object.

Our hair strands also have tiny openings that allow moisture to get through. This is why hair is considered porous.

You can find the openings on the hair on the outermost protective layer of each strand. These are called hair cuticles, and they’re very small.

You can only see them through a microscope.

The cuticle is composed of overlapping cells that look like roof shingles or fish scales. It protects your hair by controlling how much moisture and chemicals your hair can absorb.

Hair Porosity Level

Yes, all hair is porous, no matter the type. But there are different levels of porosity.

Low PorosityThe cuticles are too close together.It’s hard for moisture to penetrate the hair strands.
Medium PorosityThe cuticles lay flat on the strand with just enough spaces in between.Moisture can be absorbed without a problem, and it can also be retained.
High PorosityThe hair cuticles are lifted and have larger gaps between them.Hair absorbs moisture quickly but loses it just as fast.

Determine Your Porosity Level

So, now that you know more about the different levels of hair porosity, how do you know if you have high or low porosity hair?

Check out Youtube user BiancaReneeToday’s video explaining hair porosity further. She also shares easy tests you can do to see which type of hair porosity you have.

High Porosity Hair

Now that you know more about the different levels of hair porosity let’s take a closer look at high porosity hair.

One of the things to understand about this type of hair is why it needs extra care. Let’s start with the simplest question — what does high porosity hair look like?

If you look under a microscope, you’ll see that the cuticles of high-porosity hair are lifted or opened, like a Christmas tree. Because of this, your locks absorb moisture quickly and lose it just as fast.

While absorbing moisture may sound good, it also means that your hair absorbs chemicals quickly and gets damaged easily.

The wider gaps in the cuticles mean less protection for your hair.

How does this happen?

Some people are born with naturally high porosity hair. If you have curly hair, your cuticle layers have scales that are naturally raised and not flat.

On the other hand, having straight hair doesn’t necessarily mean that your shingles are flat or that you can’t have high-porosity hair.

You are susceptible to having high porosity hair if you’re always:

That’s because these styling activities can damage the hair and cause the cuticles to lift.

6 Signs of High Porosity Hair

A frustrated woman with afro hair is holding her hair up against a pink background.

Now that you know more about high porosity hair let’s talk more about how to tell if you have this type of hair.

Here are some of the symptoms of high porosity hair you should look out for:

1. You have dry hair.

Let’s go back to the sponge. Fluid easily gets absorbed when you put a sponge on a surface with water.

But when you lift the sponge, you’ll also notice that the water can effortlessly drip out of it too.

That’s what it’s like for highly porous hair. It can quickly absorb moisture from hair products, but it will lose it just as fast.

If you find yourself constantly reapplying moisturizer and conditioner to soften your hair, then that is a good indicator that you have high porosity hair. 

It’s because your hair loses its moisture rapidly and can’t retain the benefits of the conditioning products.

Another thing you may notice is that your locks hardly ever get greasy.

You can help trap moisture by sealing the cuticles with nourishing hair oils.

2. You have frizzy hair.

Frizz is a common symptom of high porosity hair. You know that just-got-out-of-bed look even if you’ve already washed and conditioned your hair? That’s frizz.

When your hair continuously loses moisture, it becomes dry and absorbs the moisture from the air, making the strands swell. And this causes flyaways and frizzy hair.

To stop your high-porosity hair from frizzing, use shampoos and conditioners rich in moisturizing ingredients.

3. Your hair isn’t smooth.

We’ve already explained that high-porosity hair has lifted cuticles, unlike medium-porosity with smoother, flat layers.

But we can’t see these lifted cuticles with the naked eye. So how do we recognize them?

Since smoothness is texture, the best way to determine this is by using our sense of touch.

Feel a strand or a small section of strands of your hair. If they feel rough or bumpy, you most likely have lifted cuticles.

4. Your hair easily tangles.

Hair tangles can be annoying. You’re lucky if you have naturally smooth hair because you don’t usually have to deal with tangles.

Unfortunately, those with high porosity hair often have to deal with knots and tangles.

That’s because lifted cuticles make the hair shaft rough. And when these shafts come into contact with each other, they can mat together and cause knots in your hair.

The best way to deal with this is detangling before and after you shower or using a detangling product.

5. You have dull hair.

Dull hair is usually a sign of dryness, which happens when your hair can’t retain moisture. If you notice that your hair looks less shiny than before, your hair may be highly porous.

Solve this by applying shine-boosting leave-in conditioners or natural oils.

6. Your strands break easily.

When you brush your hair, you may notice some shedding. That means your hair is prone to breakage.

This can be tricky because breakage is a common sign in low and high-porosity hair, so this can’t be your reason for determining hair porosity.

If your hair is prone to breakage and you also have other signs of high porosity hair, then you can be certain that you have highly porous strands.

You can help combat brittle hair and breakage by doing regular deep conditioning treatments.

A woman with curly hair is holding a bottle of shampoo near her hair

How to Treat High Porosity Hair

Low or medium porosity hair can become highly porous with excessive chemical styling and damage. 

However, it doesn’t work the other way around, and you can’t make lifted and damaged cuticles smooth again.

But you can help improve your porosity by sealing the openings in the hair fiber. Plus, you can also try not to damage your hair further.

Here are some essential tips on treating high porosity hair.

Tip #1: Do a pre-poo treatment.

One of the bright sides of high porosity hair is that it absorbs moisture quickly. 

So take advantage of that and use moisture-rich butter and oils in your hair for a few hours before you wash and shampoo it.

Choose products that are creamy and heavy, with less water. This will add a protective layer to the cuticle.

Tip #2: Use a mild shampoo.

After your pre-poo treatment, you can start washing your hair. But make sure to avoid shampoos with sulfate and other harsh chemicals.

After all, you just added nourishing oils to your hair. You don’t want to strip them off with a strong cleanser.

Instead, use a mild shampoo that moisturizes while cleaning your hair.

Tip #3: Condition your hair regularly.

After cleaning your hair, it’s best to follow up with a hydrating conditioner to further nourish and hydrate your locks.

You can also use a conditioner even without shampooing if your hair is too dry.

Tip #4: Use protein treatments.

Protein is an excellent fortifying nutrient for hair fibers. It coats the strands to help prevent moisture loss. 

That’s why protein treatments should be a regular part of your hair care routine if you have high-porosity hair.

Tip #5: Deep condition your hair.

Regular deep conditioning is also a must for highly porous hair. Do this once a week to keep hair moisturized.

When buying deep conditioning products, look for water-insoluble ones, like products with oils or butter.

A woman is washing her hair in the bathroom while smiling

Tip #6: Try aloe vera or apple cider vinegar.

Aloe vera has restorative properties that can benefit not just the skin but the hair as well. Mix it with water in a spray bottle and mist your hair with the solution.

This will seal the moisture in your locks and keep your hair hydrated.

Plus, it helps promote hair growth too.

Apple cider vinegar is another beneficial ingredient for highly porous hair. The acidity of the vinegar can help seal the hair cuticle to trap moisture.

You can use this as a final rinse in your hair-washing routine.

Tip #7: Do the LOC method.

What is LOC?

  • L is for leave-in conditioner
  • O is for oil
  • C is for cream

These are all the products you will layer on your hair to infuse each strand and lock in the moisture.

In this method, you start with the lightest product, the leave-in conditioner. Use a water-based product to lubricate and soften the hair.

After that, apply the hair oil to seal in the moisture.

Finally, use a styling product like a curl cream, mousse, butter, or hydrating gel.

Tip #7: Avoid excessive heat styling and chemical treatments.

As previously mentioned, styling your hair using heat and harmful chemicals can make your hair more porous.

If you don’t want to worsen your hair’s condition, try to cut down on heat styling.

You can air-dry your hair or use the lowest heat setting when blow drying. And when using flat irons or curling wands, apply a heat protectant beforehand.

In addition, avoid over-processing your hair with hair dye, bleach, or chemical treatments.

Tip #8: Treat your hair gently.

Remember, when your hair is highly porous, the outer layer is fragile. That means even the simplest things like over-aggressive brushing and excessive washing can cause damage in the long run.

So be sure to be gentle with your high-porosity hair. When washing, massage the hair gently, not too vigorously.

After you shower, don’t rub your hair too hard with a towel, as this can create friction against the strands. Pat dry your hair or use a cotton shirt instead.

Lastly, avoid tight hairstyles that can pull on your hair too hard.

A woman smiling while combing her curly hair on a beige background

FAQs about High Porosity Hair

Is high porosity hair bad?

High porosity hair can be bad because it’s more prone to dryness, frizz, tangles, and breakage. And who wants that?

To avoid these problems, use the right products for high-porosity hair and customize your regime according to your hair’s unique needs.

Does high porosity hair dry fast or slowly?

One of the characteristics of high porosity hair is losing moisture fast, which means it can also dry fast. The porous nature of the strands lets the water in and out quickly.

As a result, hair dries easily.

Is too much protein bad for high-porosity hair?

Adding protein to your hair will make it thicker and improve its elasticity, reducing breakage.

Just be careful not to have too much protein, aka protein overload. Too much protein in your hair can cause the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

Instead of strengthening your hair, excessive protein may cause it to appear duller and become more brittle.

Using a protein mask once a week or every two weeks is best.

Properly Caring for High Porosity Hair

Porosity is a key factor in caring for your hair. Knowing your hair porosity level allows you to understand the best types of products to use on your hair.

So remember, you might have high porosity hair if your hair is prone to damage and dryness.

Take the home porosity tests to confirm, and if you conclude that your hair is highly porous, adjust your haircare treatment to address this better.

If you do, you can improve your hair’s health and appearance and prevent further damage.

Do you know your hair’s porosity level? How did you find out? Share in the comments below.

Interested in learning more about haircare? Check out these articles:


  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

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