Hair Porosity 101

What type of hair do you have: 1, 2, 3, 4, A, B, C? If you are like me, you probably do not know your hair type according to the famous hair chart by Andre Walker.

If I am being honest, that little chart has given me more headaches than I care to admit. There are these pictures of hair strands and their type that I can never seem to fit into. Even after various natural hair gurus expanded the system, I am still pale pale as baba Jimmy would say. Seriously, it’s like my eyes and my brain cannot coordinate. It does not matter how many tests I have done. One day I wake up and it seems like 3C, other days like a 3B, sometimes like 4B or 4C. So I keep wondering, what magic tricks are these? whiney emojiwhiney emojiwhiney emojiwhiney emojiwhiney emoji

After many tests and trials to try and discover my hair type, I discovered my head actually has different types. In terms of curls and how tight they are, the front and middle sections are different from the sides as well as the back. So eventually I gave up (at least for now) on finding out about my hair type.

I could go on and on about this hair typing thing but that’s not why we’re here. After my frustration with hair typing I came across more important characteristics that I need to pay attention to when it comes to hair. These are hair porosity, density, texture and width. These play a critical role in the health of your hair. They influence the type of products that you use, whether you should avoid or embrace heat, the styles you opt for and so on. Today we are going to look at hair porosity which refers to how easily your strands absorb and lose water.


There are three types of hair porosity: low, medium and high. For:

  • Low porosity, your hair does not absorb moisture or oils easily because the cuticle is tight and resistant to open up. It also does not lose moisture easily. It takes long to get wet and to dry as well.
  • Normal porosity, as the name suggests, is characteristic of hair that has normal cuticles that open up enough to allow moisture in and let it out as well.
  • As for high porosity hair, the cuticles open very easily allowing moisture in and out pretty fast. Low porosity hair therefore gets wet and dries quickly.


If you want to know your hair’s porosity, there are two simple tests that you can take. Each of these tests should be done after you have washed/ cleaned your hair.

  • For the first test, you need to run your index finger and thumb along a strand of hair. Feel for bumps. If your hair strand is bumpy, it means that your cuticles are open. This means that you have high porosity hair. If it is smooth, then you have low porosity hair as the cuticles are closed.
  • For the second test, you need to take a few strands of hair and drop them into a glass of water. After two to four minutes, check to see whether the strands are floating, halfway or completely sinking. If the strands are floating, you have low porosity hair. If it is midway to the bottom, you have medium porosity hair. Finally, it the strands sunk to the bottom of the glass, then you have high porosity hair.

Knowing your hair porosity is important because it will help you avoid products that do nothing for your hair. For low porosity, for example, investing in a steamer would be a great move as the heat helps to lift the cuticle thus making product absorption easier. A steamer, on the other hand, is not a good idea for high porosity hair. Additionally, high porosity hair would work best with heavier creams and butters that have oils to seal the cuticles whereas low porosity hair would do well with alkaline products to help lift the cuticle.

Believe me when I tell you that this information goes a long way. It will help in your natural journey. After all, moisture is an essential ingredient to healthy hair growth. Learning to control its absorption and loss from your hair is crucial.

There are numerous videos and articles about the products that work on low, medium and high porosity hair worldwide. However, if you are in the +254 and would like to see a detailed product review for different porosity types based on the products that are available here, drop a comment below and I’ll get right on it.

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