Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hair Porosity

Porosity is, simply put, the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. Porosity is a critically important factor in determining one's curly hair care. Since moisture is what defines and shapes our curls, the inability to keep moisture within the hair shaft will defeat the most valiant efforts to maximize curl potential.

Your degree of porosity is directly related to the condition of your cuticle layer. Healthy hair with a compact cuticle layer is naturally resistant to penetration. Porous hair has a raised cuticle layer that easily absorbs water, but is quick to lose moisture as well. The texture of your hair is not an indication of its porosity. Different degrees of porosity can be found in all hair textures. For example, although coarse hair normally has a low porosity and is resistant to chemical services, coarse hair can also have high porosity as the result of damage or previous chemical services.

There are three different levels of porosity:

Hair with low porosity is considered "resistant" hair. Low porosity is when the cuticle of the hair shaft is too compact and does not permit moisture to enter or leave the hair shaft. Hair with low porosity is much more difficult to process, is resistant to chemical services, and has a tendency to repel product rather than absorb it. Chemical services performed on hair with low porosity require a more alkaline solution than those on hair with high porosity, to raise the cuticle and permit uniform saturation and penetration.

Hair with average porosity is considered "normal" hair. With normal porosity, the cuticle is compact and inhibits moisture from leaving or entering the hair shaft; however, it allows for normal processing when a chemical service is performed -- according to the texture -- and will readily absorb and retain product properly formulated for this hair type.

Hair with high porosity is considered "overly porous" and is the result of previous overprocessing. Other factors that can also affect porosity include heat damage, chlorine/hard water/mineral saturation, sun damage, or use of harsh ingredients. Overly porous hair is damaged in some way, and is dry, fragile and brittle. It has an open cuticle that both absorbs and releases moisture easily; it processes very quickly and can be easily damaged even further if extreme care is not taken when a chemical service is performed. Although overly porous hair absorbs product quickly, it is often dry as the open cuticle does not allow for product retention within the hair shaft. Chemical services performed on overly porous hair require less alkaline solutions with a lower pH, which will help to prevent further overprocessing.

Testing your hair porosity is important in determining how to care for your natural hair. Porosity is how your hair absorbs water. Learning your hair porosity will provide an in-depth look on healthy the cuticle layer of your hair is. With the knowledge about hair porosity you can use appropriate hair products and correct the overall health of your hair.

Things You'll Need

1 strand of hair
Wash and condition hair. Dry hair with a  t-shirt. Do not add any products to your hair.
Separate hair strands and gather one strand. Capture the hair strand with your index finger and thumb.
Run your index finger and thumb up the hair shaft. Start at the end of the hair and run down to the root.
Determine hair porosity. Overly porous hair catches down the hair shaft. Normal porous hair is smooth down the shaft, and low porous hair feels slick.
Tips & Warnings
Take the time to repeat Step 3 over and over again, and then determine your hair porosity.

Happy Hair Journey!

Afro Zee

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