What is Hair Porosity? Find yours today

No two heads of hair are the same and it’s necessary to understand how your hair works in order to create the best routine. Learning the porosity level of your hair can be useful with determining which products to use in your hair and how they will act.

What is hair porosity?

Porosity refers to how well hair is able to absorb and hold moisture. There are three main porosity levels, low, medium and high.

Black girl with afro - porosity
Photo by Caio Cardenas from Pexels

How to find out your porosity level?

Porosity Test (Float test)


Take a couple of strands of hair from your comb or brush and drop them into a bowl of water. Let them sit for 2-4 minutes.

If the hair floats and doesn’t sink, it means the hair has low porosity.
If the hair sinks slowly, it means the hair has medium/“normal” porosity.
If the hair sinks quickly, it means the hair has high porosity.

Types of Porosity – Characteristics

Low Porosity – tightly bound cuticle layer with overlapping scales that lay flat

  • Repels moisture/hard to penetrate/resistant to chemicals
  • Prone to build up from protein products
  • Loves light oils

Medium (or normal) Porosity: looser cuticles

  • Holds styles well
  • Predictable results from chemical processing

High Porosity: gaps in the cuticle (likely due to chemical processing or rough treatment )

  • Gaps and holes let moisture in and out easily
  • Hair often dry
  • Highly prone to damage
  • Need to layer products as not to lose moisture
Photo by Caio Cardenas from Pexels

What causes low or high porosity?

Porosity is usually genetic however some external factors can have an effect. Frequent heat styling, colour and chemical treatments, overexposure to sun and pool water can all cause high porosity.

For low porosity, the culprit is usually product buildup. Using heavy oils, butters and silicones can create a moisture repelling barrier which can lead normal porosity hair to feel like low porosity.

The Best Routine for Your Porosity Type

If you have Low Porosity hair…

  • Use heat. This will help the hair absorb the product better by opening up the cuticle. This could be with a steamer, hooded drier, warm towel or shower cap
  • Use clarifying conditioners to get rid of all product build-up
  • Use water-soluble products to reduce the build-up
  • Stay away from heavy protein treatments and conditioners

NHL product recommendations:

If you have Medium Porosity hair…

Luckily, with medium porosity hair, there are no real restrictions. The focus should be on maintaining a balance of moisture focused and protein-filled products to keep hair healthy. Also to avoid frequent colouring and heat treatments which can make the hair shift into the high porosity category.

NHL product recommendations:

If you have High Porosity hair...

  • Use protein-based conditioners to help strengthen your strands.
  • highly moisturising products
  • Layer your leave-in conditioners and oils to help fill the gaps in the damaged cuticles

NHL product recommendations:

Now go forth and get your perfect hair!

To find more hair products online check out 8 Online Stores to find all your Natural Hair Products

Try out the porosity test and share your results in the comments below!


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