A Real Guide for Determining Your Hair Porosity


I am sure many of you have heard of the old hair in a cup of water trick to determine your hair’s porosity. That’s junk science by the way and does not prove anything!

JC, a scientific beauty blogger at the Natural Haven addressed this a long time ago in a post entitled, Junk Science – Hair Porosity Tests / Float or Sink:

“Hair in general will almost always float in water. Many of you doing this test will note that your hair will float for ages and it may take some prodding to make it sink if it does at all. This is because hair is generally covered in oil. This oil is naturally produced sebum and any extra that you may use in your hair care routine will have an added impact. Now oil will always float on water, so your hair floating does not mean that it has low porosity. It does mean that your hair is light (which it is) and has a coating of oil that repels water (which it does). ”


Thankfully, we have a source that has done an exceptional job of making it easy to understand what hair porosity exactly is with a nifty sponge experiment. Erica aka Sister Scientist breaks it down for us in the video below. If you find this info helpful visit her site or follow her on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter 

“Porosity is defined as your hair’s ability to absorb water or other chemicals into the shaft of the hair. All hair is porous but your level of porosity will vary based on genetics and the amount of damage that the cuticle layer has been subjected to. Processes such as coloring the hair, heat styling or relaxing are examples that can affect increase the porosity of hair. Also, daily maintenance such as detangling and shampooing can sometimes affect the cuticle layer.

Porosity is usually measured as being low, medium or high. Highly porous hair absorbs a lot of water, but it also means it released moisture fast, meaning it is harder to keep highly porous hair moisturized! Low porous hair will hold on to moisture longer, but it is more difficult for the hair to pull in the water. “

If you have high porous hair, you want to make sure you are:

1) Deep conditioning hair to help seal damaged spots on the cuticle surface
2) Sealing hair with oil or silicone based product to help prevent moisture from escaping your hair
3) Incorporate an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse every now and then to lower the ph of hair which will help to close cuticles tighter and trap moisture in

See this post: Treating Hair With High Porosity

If you hair with low porosity, or it’s considered resistant, you can help infuse moisture into the hair by:

1) Incorporating a steamer into your hair care regimen
2) Using humectant rich products to draw moisture to the hair, especially in humid climates
3) Soak the hair in alkaline water for a few minutes just to slightly increase the pH of the hair, thus opening the cuticle more and infusing more moisture into the strand.

See this post:  How to Moisturize Low Porosity Hair

No more guessing games when it comes to understanding hair porosity. It’s more straightforward than you would think it is! Using these tips you will now be able to better keep those strands moisturized.

SEE ALSO: Best Products for Your Hair’s Porosity

What’s your hair porosity type?

Tell us in the comment’s section below.


6 thoughts on “A Real Guide for Determining Your Hair Porosity

  1. Misty

    Um…this didn’t help me determine the porosity of my hair at all. The experiment explains porosity, but not how to determine what your hair is!

    1. Tamara Post author

      If you understand porosity, you can now apply that to your hair. Does your hair absorb water and release it fast? Then you have high porosity. Or if it’s the opposite than you have low porosity.

  2. D. Ward

    Porosity has been well explained here but I still don’t know how to determine if my hair’s porosity. Do you mean that the length of time it takes for my hair to dry indicates porosity? If that is the test, wouldn’t hair thickness play a big part? I’m confused.

  3. Karima

    I’m still confused as well. While I understand porosity as it was explained, I still don’t know how it soles to my hair. In my opinion my hair absorbs water fast but looses moisture slowly (out takes forever for my hair to dry). How does my hair fit in to the porosity scale?

  4. Pingback: Do you LOC or LCO – crooked glasses girl

  5. Elena

    Thank you! That hair sinking test totally confused me. I’m only sorry that I read about this porosity thing today for the first time because I just received a Shea Moisture product (coconut and hibiscus curl,enhancing smoothie) that I bought from a seller on E bay and later today I found out that they actually have a line for low porosity hair which I now know that is my daughter’s type. It’s very important for me to know what kind of stuff to buy because it’s impossible to find products in a small country like mine (Croatia) where there’s not many people with African hair (my baby is mixed, but has totally inherited my husband’s African genes and has 4b type of curls,very dry) so I have to find it on internet which is also pretty hard because shipping turns out to be double the money than actual product.
    I put the smoothie on her hair today and did the twist outs so hopefully it will help for a while till I finish the jar and the try and get something from that low porosity line. Oh well, fingers crossed… glycerin is second on the list of ingredients so it should be ok , right?


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