High porosity hair is not exactly easy to manage. Your hair feels like it’s perpetually dry – no matter what you do. The state of your hair could be a result of damage from relaxers, bleach, color, or heat. Or maybe you were born with porous hair. Do you keep thinking about how to fix high porosity hair?
What is hair porosity?
To understand what hair porosity is, you need to understand a little bit about how your hair is made.
Your hair has layers, like your skin.
Your hair happens to have just three: the cuticle (the outer layer), the cortex (the middle layer), and the medulla (the inner layer).
For porosity, we are worried about that outer layer – the cuticle.
The cuticle layer controls how much moisture (or any substance you put on your hair) passes through to the other layers.
If your cuticles are really tight, then not much will pass through. We would call this low porosity.
If you have normal cuticles that let in a normal amount, you have medium or normal porosity.
In the event that your cuticles are wide open, then you have high porosity.
There is an easy way to tell your hair’s porosity: Toss a strand of your hair in a glass of water, wait a few minutes, and see what happens.
If the hair strand floats, you have low porosity.
If it’s in the middle, hooray! You’re normal.
Finally, if it sinks… high porosity.
Understanding high porosity hair
If you have high porosity hair, what does that mean for you?
While it is easy for moisture to enter your hair, moisture can escape just as easily.
This means your hair will quickly become dry and frizzy.
It will break easily, tangle easily, and rarely look shiny. Bad news.
High porosity can be genetic (another thing to blame your parents for), but it can also be caused by heat damage like blow-drying or using flat irons, or by chemical damage like bleaching, using relaxers, perms, or color.
Always be careful how aggressively you use heat and chemical treatments to keep your hair safe.
How to fix high porosity hair
What can you do about it? Nothing! You’re doomed! …Just kidding.
If you have high porosity hair there are two steps to focus on: Helping your hair keep moisture, and tightening and strengthening your cuticle layer.
Closing cuticles and strengthening the hair
Your cuticle layer is strengthened with protein.
The protein in your hair accounts for around a third of its overall strength.
Therefore, protein treatments are an important part of treating high porosity hair.
They strengthen your hair to help prevent breakage, and they help fill in the gaps of your cuticle layer to reduce your porosity.
You probably won’t be able to completely change your hair’s porosity level, but it will help considerably.
Many professionals recommend getting these treatments monthly to help counteract low porosity.
Here are some protein treatments for high porosity hair that are quite helpful in repairing and strengthening the tresses.
Another thing you can do is to try using aloe vera or apple cider vinegar in your hair.
They both work by adjusting the pH balance of your hair.
They are both a little acidic, so rinsing out your hair with them will help seal in moisture and flatten out your cuticles.
Step one to keeping moisture is deep conditioning.
You should be doing it every time you wash your hair.
I wrote a post looking at the best deep conditioner for high porosity hair that can reinvigorate your dried out, frizzy hair.
Use a generous amount of deep conditioner, leave it in, and if possible, try to keep it warm using heat.
Since not everyone has an overhead dryer, you can use a cap and a warm towel to keep your hair toasty.
To avoid hygral fatigue, I discourage people from leaving the conditioner in their hair overnight and washing it out in the morning.
The second step is important. Remember that porous hair loses moisture quickly.
You’ll want emollients to trap in that good moisture.
Emollients are oils or butters that coat your hair to seal it, like some kind of moisture forcefield.
Heavy emollients will probably work best for you.
Shea butter, avocado oil, and olive oil are a few good ones you might want to try.
Look for products that contain these ingredients.
Apply emollients to your hair right after that deep conditioning to keep in all the H2O that you’ve gained.
The last step will be to minimize damage to your hair that could make your high porosity hair even worse.
These are good tips for anyone, including people looking to prevent high porosity so…
How to prevent high porosity
As mentioned above, high porosity hair can be caused by damage.
Even if your high porosity is genetic, you can make it worse by damaging your hair.
There are two types of damage that are our primary suspects when it comes to high porosity: Heat damage and chemical damage.
Prevent heat damage
Some people find it pretty hard to style their hair without heat.
They are frequently blow drying it, straightening it, or curling it.
The problem is if you’re doing this every day, you’re putting your hair through the wringer over and over again.
Even though it’s only a tiny bit of damage every time you do it, that damage adds up.
Do your best to use less heat.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop styling your hair, just be more patient with a bit lower heat.
Invest in quality straighteners, curlers, and blow dryers that have good control over their own heat, the cheaper ones can easily get too hot and cause more damage than necessary.
Prevent chemical damage
Harsh chemicals can wreak havoc on your cuticle layer, and it’s not just bleach (while that one is the worst).
If you have any products that have sulfates in them, you may want to consider replacing them with something less drying.
You want products that will moisturize your hair whenever possible; look for natural alternatives.
If you do plan on getting a chemical treatment, do it at the salon.
It might cost more, but having the chemicals applied by a trained professional makes a big difference for the safety of your hair.
There’s a good chance they know more than you about the chemicals they’re using than you do.
As I said before, high porosity hair is no fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
Arm yourself with knowledge and fight to take back your moist, shiny, and supple hair.
However, while there are plenty of treatments for high porosity hair, the best way out would be growing new hair (especially if your porous hair is a result of heat or chemical damage).