When you think about a strand of hair, each one has multiple layers. The outer most layer is called the cuticle layer – made up of smaller cuticles (that are similar in shape to a shingle). The cuticles lay together like a roof (or even a pinecone). Water and other moisturizing products help to fight frizz by passing through the cuticle layer and getting to the actual hair strand. If the cuticles are really close together, it’s harder for water to penetrate the hair – aka it can be harder to keep hair hydrated.
The hair’s porosity can be grouped into three categories: low, normal (medium), and high. “If your hair has low porosity, that means the cuticles are very compact and not as susceptible to receiving hydration. Low porosity hair characteristics include dry hair, and in some cases, it’s hard to keep this hair texture wet, because water can bead up and roll right off the strand. Product can also sit on top of strands.
If your hair has normal, (medium) porosity, your cuticles “float” open and close easily to allow enough hydration in and also the ability to contain the hydration. With this porosity type, water tends to sit on top of strands initially but then absorbs. This type requires the least maintenance, as the hair holds styles well with volume and shine.
If you have high porosity hair, your cuticle “floats” open and tends to stay more open. There may also be gaps between the cuticle layers. High porosity hair characteristics can include curls become soaking wet quite easily, but hair also tends to tangle faster (because the cuticles get caught). It’s also more susceptible to breakage because of gaps in it.
The Basics of Caring for Low Porosity Hair
With low porosity hair, remember, cuticles are compact so you want to avoid heavy butters or oils that do not absorb into the cuticle. Those products will just further dehydrate the hair – no thank you. A low porosity hair routine should consist of water-soluble products to reduce build-up. When conditioning low porosity hair, apply conditioner to hair that is already wet, then work it into the hair in sections, while continuing to add water. Diluting the conditioner this way, helps it get more easily absorbed by the cuticle. Use hydrating and moisturizing treatments for conditioning (like Heaven in Hair and Melt into Moisture). You can and should do the same with stylers. Apply them in sections with plenty of water, cream based stylers will likely be your best bet. To finish, use a hooded-dryer or steamer – as these methods utilize heat, which keeps the cuticle open, allowing more hydration to feed into the hair. Even air drying can be helpful, the longer your hair is wet, the longer it has the opportunity to absorb more moisture. The best low porosity hair products are ones that provide rich moisture! Jessica recommends: No-Poo Original, One Condition Original, No-Poo Decadence, One Condition Decadence, Heaven In Hair, SuperCream, Styling Cream, Curl Maker, B-Leave In, Beautiful Mess, Arc Angel, and Melt into Moisture. Build-up Buster will help reduce product build-up as well.
The Basics of Caring for Normal Porosity Hair
If your hair has normal (medium) porosity strands, your cuticles “float” open and close easily – which means your strands easily accept and retain moisture. While your curls could be in the “just right” category, your hair needs can range – you might need more moisture, hold, or protein. Exactly what it needs can vary, especially with seasonal change. Balance your routine with a mixture of moisture and hold until you find what works for you! Jessica recommends: No-Poo Original, One Condition Original, Low-Poo Original, Styling Cream, Curl Maker, Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam, WaveMaker, Light Defining Gel, Ultra Defining Gel, Arc Angel, Set It Free, and Melt Into Moisture.
The Basics of Caring for High Porosity Hair
Now, as we know, high porosity hair tends to wet easily and become easily weighed down with products that attract moisture. So if you have this hair type, it’s best to avoid humectant products with a lot of glycerin. These products attract water into the hair and weigh it down. Instead, focus on hydrating the hair with a silicone free conditioner and include a protein- based deep conditioner into your weekly or bi-weekly routine to help strengthen your strands. The best high porosity hair products are ones that provide moisture but are lightweight!