Even if you’ve never heard of hair porosity before, believe us, you should know what it is!
Hands up how many of you know about hair porosity? We reckon there are quite a few of you who don’t (the majority of Team Sassy certainly didn’t and even those who did weren’t sure what category their own hair fell under!). But what if we told you it basically refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and hold onto moisture, and that knowing about it can help us keep our manes in the best condition possible and even dictate what products we use (yep, that’s right)! So it’s time to sit up and take notice – that sleek, glossy mane you’ve always dreamed of could be within reach after all.
How To Test
Hair can be classed as having low, medium (normal), or high porosity and there are some simple tests you can do to find out which category you belong to.
One involves dropping a strand of your hair into a glass or bowl of water (no need to pull any hair out, one that’s been shed naturally on your hairbrush is just fine!).
- If your hair stays floating on top, it has low porosity.
- If it sinks a bit after several minutes, it has normal porosity.
- If it sinks immediately, it has high porosity.
But perhaps the most straightforward way to test is to spray some water onto dry hair.
- If the water just sits on top, you have low porosity hair.
- If the moisture is slowly absorbed, your hair porosity is normal.
- If it is absorbed very quickly, you have high porosity hair.
We aren’t going to pretend to be experts (after already admitting most of us didn’t know what it was), so we decided to enlist the help of someone much more qualified to help us with the facts. And who better to turn to for advice than Toni Ovenden, who many of you will know as the founder of popular boutique salon Love Hair (which was voted Best Salon in our Sassy Best of Hong Kong Reader Awards 2019). We asked her to explain why we should care about this hot topic:
Hair porosity is important because it tells us a lot about the health and condition of the hair, and it also affects how your hair holds style and colour.
We also asked Toni for some simple advice for each hair type and this is what she told us:
Low Porosity Hair
- Will feel smooth to the touch and is moisture resistant.
- Avoid protein-rich products (that’s anything that says it is repairing or strengthening).
- It’s best to use moisture-rich products (which contain shea butter or natural oils like macadamia or coconut).
- Product build up can be an issue so use lighter products like sprays and oils instead of heavy creams.
- I also recommend using a detox or cleansing shampoo.
Medium Porosity Hair
- Has a less smooth texture and allows more moisture to be absorbed.
- Avoid using a protein product in your daily routine (it should only be used once a week or once a fortnight).
- You do need to keep your hair moisturised on a daily basis and protected when styling to prevent damage, as it can become porous over time.
- You can vary the products you use based on other factors, like your hair density and thickness.
- It’s fine to use sprays, oils and creams.
High Porosity Hair
- Has a bumpy texture, tends to be frizzy and will tangle easily. It does allow moisture to penetrate but it can also lose it.
- Avoid swimming without protecting your hair because chlorine and saltwater can be drying and damaging.
- Use anti-humidity products to try to seal in some moisture and create a protective barrier.
- Use products containing oils (such as coconut, monoi, brazil nut, baobab) as these will help to rebuild the hair, while biomimetic keratin protein and smoothing treatments can also deliver targeted damage repair (and add shine).
Toni’s Top Tips
- Next time you go to the hairdresser, it’s worth asking your stylist if you have low, medium or high porosity hair. That way they’ll be able to advise you on the best products to use.
- Avoid products that contain sulphates, parabens and synthetic silicones that can cause build up on the hair.
- If you have high porosity hair, during the humid summer months in Hong Kong it’s well worth using a keratin smoothing treatment.
So if you’ve taken all that in and are now frantically checking the ingredient list on your shampoo and conditioner bottles, here are some of our favourite product recommendations.
For low porosity hair
- Shampoo and conditioner: Kevin Murphy Maxi Wash (available online or in store from Shampoo.hk for $190) and Kiehl’s Amino Acid Conditioner (available online or in store for $190)
- Hair treatment: The Body Shop Shea Butter Richly Replenishing Hair Mask (available in store for $139)
- Extra protection: Ouai Hair Oil (available online from Sephora for $235)
For medium porosity hair
- Shampoo and conditioner: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo and Conditioner (available online or in store from Shampoo.hk for $200 and $210)
- Hair treatment: Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak (available online or in store for $330)
- Extra protection: label.m Heat Protection Spray (available online from lookfantastic for $147.50)
For high porosity hair
- Shampoo and conditioner: Moroccanoil Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner (available online or in store from Elegant Beauty for $200 and $210)
- Hair treatment: Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector (available online from Sephora for $280)
- Extra protection: bhave Riot Control Oil (available online from Amazon for around $252)
Even if you choose to ignore this advice completely, at least you’ll sound knowledgable next time you visit the salon and ask about your hair porosity! But who doesn’t want healthier, more manageable hair?