One of the hardest things about being natural is figuring out to how to keep moisture in natural hair. Like I’ve said before it is so easy to get caught up in the hype of wanting your hair to look just like what we see on YouTube and Instagram. But we (myself included) have to realize that everyone’s hair does not have the same characteristics and what may work for other people’s hair may not always work for you.
When I first went natural I was primarily focused on my hair type, [ex. 3 a b and c; 4 a b and c]. But there is so much more to natural hair like hair porosity. Hair porosity explains the condition of the hair cuticle and how it retains moisture. There are 3 different types of porosity; low, normal and high. The two most focused on are low and high porosity. I believe knowing your hair porosity type is a true game changer to how well your hair stays moisturized and how it will flourish on your natural hair journey. To keep moisture in your hair, you must first learn how well your hair retains moisture.
Knowing your hair porosity will help you to determine what products to buy to cater to your hair needs whether its low or high porosity.
HAIR POROSITY TYPES
High porosity means that the layers of one’s hair cuticles are open or have holes in it. This allows moisture to come into the shaft easily but also allows moisture to leave easily. Signs of high porosity hair include frizzy and tangled hair. Styles also may not last as long due to moisture from the air getting into the shaft and causing frizz.
Low porosity is the opposite, meaning that the layers of the cuticle are tightly bound together due to the fact that the layers overlap. This makes hair moisture resistant, which makes it harder to get moisture into the hair shaft leaving it dry. But once moisture is in the hair it is much easier to seal the moisture in.
DETERMINING YOUR HAIR POROSITY
This just goes to show the same products and maintenance will not always work for all naturals. To determine the condition of your hair strands you can conduct a “cup” test. Take a cup of room temperature water and place a few strands of CLEAN hair into the cup. Let the strands sit and watch to see if they float, sit in the middle, or sink to the bottom. Low porosity hair will float due to the fact that no water is being let into the shaft. If the strands sink, they have high porosity. Normal porosity strands will sit in the middle.
Another way to test the porosity of your hair is to do a strand test. Take a single strand of hair in between your fingertips and rub the strand in an up and down motion. If you feel bumps your hair has a high porosity because the cuticle is lifted. If you feel no bumps and the strand feels smooth your hair has low porosity.
So now you know how well your hair retains moisture but you’re wondering what you can do to cater to your specific hair porosity type. So here are some recommendations.
• You want to use heavy moisturizers, creams, and butters
• My favorites right now are Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO) and Mane Choice “Doesn’t get much Butter than this”
• Protein treatments to strengthen the strands
• When rinsing conditioner put with cool/cold water to close the cuticle and seal in moisture
• Protective styling to reduce the amount of manipulation of your hair
• Check the weather before styling
• Don’t let rain and humidity ruin all your hard work (check out my “Not Every Day Is a Good Day” blog post; where I talk about a terrible experience I had with Froiesha and her high porosity characteristics)
• Cowashing reduces the amount of moisture stripped from hair during the cleansing process
• Using light oils because heavy oils are too thick to absorb
• Jojoba and argan oil are great and personally, I love the smell of jojoba oil
• Condition with heat to open the layers of the cuticle
• This can be done with placing a plastic cap or bag over your head to trap heat. You can also sit under a hooded dryer.
• Clarify hair often, due to the closed cuticle the products don’t always absorb into the hair causing build up
• Even if you co-wash shampoo at least twice a month to remove all build up
• Make sure hair is damp when applying products
• Pre-poo with heat by adding a plastic cap to open the hair cuticle
Perform one of the above tests and comment your hair porosity type below. Also, tell us about any products that work best for your hair porosity.
And remember we will get through this together.
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Hey Y'all! I’m Kanisha J, a 24-year-old graduate student trying to figure out this thing called life. My life is full of “plot twists” and one of my most recent has been my natural hair journey. Going natural was never my plan. But here I am. Upon going natural I felt like all the videos I watched or pictures I saw were of girls with “good hair” that never had a bad hair day. I will be sharing my journey with Froiesha, my type 4 fro, to help other women realize that it is possible to love every step of your natural hair journey.