Everything you need to know about hair porosity and why it matters

Everything you need to know about hair porosity and why it matters

Creating a hair care routine that works for you depends on a number of factors. While it’s important to choose products according to hair and scalp types and ensure they contain the right ingredients, another vital aspect should be factored in. And that’s hair porosity.

What is hair porosity, and why does it matter?

Essentially, hair porosity refers to hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. A cuticle is the protective outer layer of hair made up of smaller cuticles that overlap each other. How well oils and products pass in and out of the cuticle depend on how porous the hair is. 

Hair porosity can be categorised into three types – low, normal and high.

How to find out your hair porosity?

Unlike different hair tests, determining your hair porosity is a simple, straightforward process that can be executed at home.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing your hair porosity:

  1. Remove any product build-up by shampooing and rinsing your hair
  2. Take a full glass of water
  3. Dry your hair and drop a single strand into the filled glass
  4. Take note of whether the strand sinks to the bottom or floats at the top of the glass

Porous hair type guide:

Here’s how to interpret the results of the test.

  1. Low porosity hair:

If the strand floats at the top of the glass before sinking, it indicates low porosity hair. In such cases, the cuticles tend to be very close together, making it harder for hair care products to penetrate the hair shaft. Typically, with low porosity hair, things don’t get absorbed easily, and it also takes a long time for it to air dry after a shower.

Whether you have low porosity natural hair or low porosity wavy hair by nature, one of the best oils for low porosity hair is Argan oil. Sourced directly from Morocco, 100% pure and certified organic Argan oil contains smoothening properties that enable it to form a protective layer around your hair. This layer is hydrophobic in nature, and keeps damaging moisture away, increases slip and ensures hair tangles less and is easy to manage. 

  1. Medium porosity hair or normal hair porosity:

If the strand floats around the middle of the glass, or sinks after some time, chances are you have medium or normal porosity hair. In such cases, the cuticles are not too close together, but neither are they too open. This allows the goodness to get through easily enough and allows for comparatively easier washing or drying.

Medium porosity hair is easy to style, takes colour well, and has a shine to it. It also does not take very long for the hair to dry in such cases.

  1. High porosity hair:

If the strand sinks to the bottom of the glass of water quickly, it means you have high porosity hair. In such cases, the cuticles tend to have gaps or spaces between them. Highly porous hair absorbs easily and yet can’t retain it for long. Such hair is characterized by poor structural integrity, meaning it can break easily and requires additional care to maintain and improve its strength.

So while it absorbs quickly, high porosity hair is prone to breakage, tends to be dry and frizzy. 

What are the causes of porosity low or high hair?

A part of the reason is genetics, however, there are several other factors that contribute to hair porosity. For instance, bleaching and using styling tools to blow dry or straighten hair can damage hair over time. It leads to cuticles becoming open and raised, easing absorption and compromising its retention. You can limit the negative effects of high heat by applying a high-quality hair serum or heat protectant, like the iluvia Intensive Hair Care Serum, before using heat based dryers or styling tools like hair tongs, hair irons, straightening brush etc.

While cleansing is of course, important, overwashing hair or using harsher shampoos can cause hygral fatigue (hair cuticles lose their elasticity over time due to repeated swelling and unswelling, causing damage to bonds in hair) and lead to increased levels of porosity.

Apart from these, excess sun exposure can also increase hair porosity. You can use products that help provide an additional layer of protection for hair from environmental stressors such as high temperatures, humidity and sun rays.

Hair with high porosity does require additional care and attention and the use of mild cleansing products like the iluvia Sulfate Free Shampoo are recommended. Furthermore, increasing the natural hydrophobicity of hair with the Hair Repair Mask is recommended to reduce the impact of hygral fatigue and control frizz and flyaways.


While factors such as genetics, age and diet make a difference in hair quality, the porosity level of the hair, too, plays a major role. Knowing your hair porosity equips you to make better, more informed decisions with respect to hair care routines and products.