When I first BC, I really thought I had porous hair; maybe I did, because my hair was constantly dry and drank any form of liquid based product like it was going out of fashion. I just could not understand it. It wasn’t even like I was using chemical based products, because I had a wonderful stash of natural hair products, but nothing seemed to address the issue.
So, like you do, I started to comb the pages of the internet, and check out all the big name vloggers, to see if they could give me any insight into my problem. I surmised that I was either protein sensitive, oil resistant, or my hair was porous. Me, being me, skipped any form of testing the nature of my hair, and just change my routine, limiting protein, changing to a water based moisturiser, and omitting dry oiling my hair, completely.
Thankfully my hair started to soften, hold moisture and become more manageable, but to this day, I’m not sure whether my hair was porous or not. However I am aware that many naturalistas’ are probably still wondering why their hair cannot hold any form of moisture, no matter the quality of their product or frequency of application. So I thought, I’d write a tiny piece on the issue of porous hair
The Nature Of Porous Hair
Porous, is a term used in many fields to describe the measure of void or empty spaces found in any type of material. Hair like any other substance can contain microscopic spaces, which make it incapable of holding moisture. This is often due to the fact that the cuticle or outer layer of the hair, is damaged, and can no longer protect the heart of the hair – the cortex. If this happens, the structure of the hair becomes radically altered, with the central pillar – the cortex weak and ‘wet’.
Weak and ‘wet’ hair then, not only absorbs moisture quickly it looses it quickly as well. That’s why, ‘porous hair’ is always dry; think sieve. That’s why no matter what you do or how much moisturizer you use, the hair remains parched, leading to other issues, such as: breakage of wet and dry hair, fizziness, dullness and an inability to hold its curl.
In the most, any hair type can suffer from porosity issues due to chemical processing, excessive use of heat and UV damage. However curly hair especially Afro hair is inclined to be naturally porous, unlike straight or wavy hair. This is due in part to the shape of the hair shaft, elliptical (oval), as opposed to cylindrical, with the scales of the cuticle protruding rather than laying flat. As a result, the hair shaft is ‘gappy’, and prone to moisture loss, which when coupled with harsh treatment, exacerbates the problem of porosity.
To determine whether your hair is porous, try a couple of the following tests.
- Take a note of how long your hair takes to become soaking wet. If your hair ‘wets’ quickly (meaning less than a minute) then your hair is more than likely highly porous.
- Equally, consider how long your hair takes to dry. If your hair dry’s quickly, without the use of dryers, then this could indicate an exposed cortex due to an overly spacious/holey cuticle.
- Run your finger and thumb down the length of your dry hair. If your hair has a slightly uneven or rough texture, then your hair could be porous.
- Finally, take a few strands of harvested air and drop them in a bowl of water. If all or even some of the hair sinks to the bottom within a minute then there your hair is definitely porous. The quicker the hair sinks the more serious the issue is.