What Is High Porosity Hair?

what is high porosity hair

There’s no doubt you’ve heard (and seen, thanks to YouTube) naturals mentioning their hair porosity, but in this particular post I’m going to focus on high porosity hair. So, what is high porosity hair, and how is it different from hair that’s low porosity?

High Porosity Hair Soaks Up Moisture Quickly

Using a water based leave in, or just water? Your hair really doesn’t care which you apply because it’s going to soak up just about any silicone-free product you apply.

You’ll rarely have to worry about products sitting on top of your hair since the cuticles of your strands are constantly open and ready to take anything you give it, so why is high porosity hair made out to be such a bad guy?

I mean, if our hair thrives on moisture, then wouldn’t hair that readily accepts moisture be a good thing?

Not quite, because having high porosity hair also means your hair probably does the next thing I’m about to mention:

It Loses Moisture Quickly

Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Yep, you read that right.

Not only does high porosity accept moisture easily, it also loses moisture just as fast as it absorbs it, even though I’d swear it takes less time to lose it than it does to add moisture.

Since your cuticles are open constantly, it’s like an open door that’s allowing anyone (in this case, Mr. Moisture) to come and go as they please.

If you want your guests to stick around, it’s best to lock them in the house.

(*Chuckles*) Now, I don’t recommend you go around locking people in your how to keep them from getting out, but when it comes to your high porosity hair, you’ll want to keep the moisture you just invited into your strands locked inside.

Needs Help To hold In Moisture

You can’t just expect your open cuticles to shut themselves! You’ve gotta help your hair out a bit by applying additional products to your hair that coat the hair strands and therefore “shut the door” on the moisture.

Applying a heavier oil or butter is usually the best way to make sure your hair hangs on to that moisture for longer than a few hours.

Responds Well To Heavier Oils Or Butters

Unrefined Avocado Butter

This goes hand in hand with the “losing moisture quickly” bit.

While finding a sealing oil or butter that works best for you depends on a few other factors of your hair. If you’re someone who has issues with your hair holding in moisture (which I’m guessing you are since you’re reading this post) you’ll find that giving your cuticles an extra layer of a thick oil or butter helps temporarily fill in the gaps by which the moisture escapes from your hair.

The end result? Hair that isn’t bone dry after only a fraction of your work day is over.

More Prone To Shrinkage

I won’t sit here and pretend this is something I know for a fact. Actually, the only thing I know about this for a fact is that this is just my opinion.

Since coily hair has the tendency to shrink when moisturized, it seems logical that high porosity hair would have a higher shrinkage rate than someone with low porosity hair.

Unfortunately, when this shrinkage occurs the tangles are usually soon to follow because not only does high porosity hair shrink a ton, it shrinks AND loses moisture, which means breakage is soon to follow should you choose to tackle those tangles without first applying more moisture (water).

Hair without moisture = Dryness = Breakage = Setback

Dry, shrunken hair + dry manipulation= BREAKAGE!

I think you get the picture here. All hair needs moisture, but especially hair that can’t keep a grip on it long after the moisture has been handed to it.

It’s Not Picky

Pink Hair Lotion

One of the things I’ve always loved about being a high porosity natural is that I can pretty much use any product on my hair without having to worry about getting buildup as often.

You’ll still get product buildup, especially if you use silicone-based products on your hair, but since your hair is having such a hard time keeping moisture in, some naturals with highly porous hair actually find they’re able to retain more length when adding products that contain silicones to their strands.

Since silicones take longer to evaporate, that’s longer this product will hold the moisture in your hair and the less often you’ll need to add moisture back into your hair.

If you’re a high porosity natural that just want to focus on getting and keeping moisture in your strands, then you’ll be happy to learn that you’ll likely be one of those naturals that is able to keep the old school hair care practices like using water and hair grease and still be able to avoid excessive breakage and have more obvious length retention.

When you have high porosity hair, which products you use seem to be of much less importance, as long as the product is heavy enough (I’m not sure how high porosity hair would work with lighter hair milks or spray leave-in-conditioners).

It Seems Less Common

Maybe I’ve been looking in all the wrong places, but it seems to me that wherever the high porosity naturals are, they’re less commonly spotted than our low porosity friends.

My theory? Maybe the high porosity naturals don’t realize they’re high porosity yet? Or maybe they hate blogging about hair.

Then again, maybe they’re too camera shy to get on YouTube and talk to you because in all honesty, some viewers can be super brutal, especially in the natural hair community.

Anyway, getting back on track here, high porosity hair is marketed to, known about and I’m living proof that it exists, but why isn’t it getting talked about more?

Addiction To Protein

Protein treatment

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never come across a hi-po (high porosity) natural that had a “protein sensitivity”. As a matter of fact, we probably add protein to our hair as much as someone with a relaxer does simply because the strands are more fragile thanks to those open hair cuticles.

You May Not Need To Heat Your Deep Conditioning Treatment!

The original QRedew Steamer

Ummm… I know I’ll probably get some backlash for this one because applying heat with deep conditioning treatments seems to be a commandment of the Natural Hair Bible, but considering the high porosity does, I don’t think it’s a deal breaker for your strands if you don’t apply your deep conditioner with heat.

I mean, after all, your hair is already welcoming anything you apply to the strands with open arms.

Though, I have to admit it’s probably still a good idea to cover your hair with a plastic processing cap just to make sure your hair doesn’t dry before your hair has time to marinate in all that hydrating goodness.

So… What Is High Porosity Hair?

You guessed it! It’s FANTASTIC!

Also, if I may be so bold, I’d like to add that high porosity hair is underrated. I’m seriously wondering where the rest of us are.

I used to believe my hair’s porosity made it harder to care for than those with low porosity hair, but what I didn’t know was that it wasn’t the condition of my hair’s cuticles that were the problem, it was how I was caring for my hair.

I had to alter the way I was taking care of it and alter the products I was using, but high porosity hair is no harder to take care of than any other head of type 4 hair.

The real question isn’t if we’re using the best products from the “right” company, it’s whether we know our hair at all and if we realize what steps need to be taken to help it thrive.

Are you a high porosity natural? What is high porosity hair to you and how has knowing your porosity improved your hair care?

6 thoughts on “What Is High Porosity Hair?

  1. Timely article Aria!

    I have indeed noticed my hair shrivelling up especially after swimming and lately, it has become a bit too obvious. I have silky black hair but after a lot of swimming, it’s now brown because of all that chlorine and it looks rusty too which doesn’t suit me – Does that mean my hair is high porosity? 

    1. Hi Riaz!

      It sounds like the issues you’re experiencing with your hair due to swimming, because chlorine and salt water can both dry your hair.

      Both hair porosity types can be affected by this and the more often you swim, the more often you wash your hair (I’m guessing) which will dry your hair more.

      The lightening of your hair could be from sun exposure, as the sun mixed with salt water or even the chemicals from chlorine can lighten the hair over time.

      The more you swim, the dryer your hair can be. I’d recommend using a moisturizing deep conditioner once a week or twice a week depending on how often you swim.

  2. I enjoyed this post because since I switched back to my natural hair, I found it challenging to get the right products for my 4 hair. There is all this talk about porosity, high and low, and everyday I see a new product being recommended. I think I have gotten to understand my hair. I deep condition while covering with a plastic cap for a very long time. I also find that the heavy oil really helps it stay moist for a longer time. I am loving my hair more and more and glad to see this article.

    1. I’m so glad you’ve gotten to know your hair, JJ!

      When we know our hair, it’s easier to zig zag through all the hype when new products come out and it also makes it more exciting to try new products when we want to mix things up a bit because we’ll save time by not buying something we know is less likely to work with our own hair and can leave it on the shelf for the person it does work for.

  3. OMG where have you been all of my life?
    My hair and I have a hate-love-tolerate situation going on, and it has been that way as long as I can recall. I gave up on relaxers over a decade ago and tried to keep my hair in braids. That damaged my edges so I have been wearing my frizzy fro for the last 2 or 3 years now.
    I use keratin enriched shampoo and conditioner and essential oils mixed with water. After I spray it down with the water/oil mix, I add an herbal hair grease.

    Throughout the day, it does dry out and “draw up”, and I brush and comb it out a few times to combat the tangles.

    I don’t know if I have hi-po hair or not, but I will be bookmarking your site for more hair help.

    Thank you so much, this info has been so helpful!
    Gwendolyn J

    1. Hi Gwendolyn!

      If you want to know if you have high porosity hair, one of the easiest ways to tell is after washing your hair and when applying your water/oil mix. 

      If it takes your hair a while to air dry, you either have really densely packed strands or you’re low porosity.

      High porosity naturals have issues retaining (keeping) moisture in their hair and will dry faster than someone who has a closed cuticle.

      It sounds like you have a great regimen going that works for you now. I’m sorry to hear about your edges breaking. I think it’s a common issue for naturals (my edges thinned a bit due to using damaging hair accessories) but they will grow back as long as there was no follicle damage done.

      I look forward to hearing your natural hair progress and I hope I can continue to help and inspire you!

      Thanks so much for taking time to stop by and share your story! I’ll see you around!

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