Hair Porosity 101: Low Porosity vs High Porosity

Often I hear of naturals that are stuck in determining their hair care regimen based on their hair texture. While this is helpful in some cases, the real answer to finding an effective regimen is knowing your hair porosity.

Hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture and chemicals. There are three categories of porosity: low porosity, normal porosity, and high porosity.

How do you determine which porosity your hair falls under?

For a couple of years, a test has circulated to help naturals determine their porosity levels.

This is how it works:
Drop a strand of clean hair into a cup and wait until it either floats, falls in the middle, or sinks.

  • If it floats, you are low porosity.
  • If it goes center, you are normal porosity.
  • If it sinks, you are high porosity.

Let’s get into more details!

In low hair porosity…

  • The cuticles of the hair shaft are so compact that it does not allow room for any moisture or chemical to penetrate.
  • Because the cuticles are so compact, low porosity hair is more prone to product build-up.
  • Hair has a water-proof effect. Due to tightly packed cuticles, water is not able to make a pass.
  • Dry hair is a problem even after “moisturizing” with conditioners or using the greenhouse effect method.

In normal hair porosity…

  • The cuticles of the hair shaft are better balanced; water is allowed to penetrate and keep the hair moisturized.

In high hair porosity (my hair falls in this category)…

  • Water penetrates past the cuticle both ways. The hair shaft is an open gate that allows moisture to get in and get out.
  • Because the cuticles are open, high porosity hair appears to “suck up” the product.
  • The cuticle has gaps and this is due to genetics OR a damaged hair shaft.

Now that you determined your hair porosity, stay tuned for tips on dealing with your cuticles.


    1. Yeah, I am definitely high porosity, so I have to use thicker butters to keep the moisture locked in my hair. If you are, I totally recommend that you use natural Shea butter. It’s magical and keeps my hair soft!

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