Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Low Porosity Hair

When thinking about hair porosity, I think of hair as a sponge. Porous hair (high pH level) is like a sponge with large holes, taking in a lot of moisture. Low porosity hair is like a sponge in a plastic bag. It's hard for liquid to penetrate it, but if held under water, eventually the sponge absorbs the liquid. Porosity is mainly controlled by how 'tightly' closed the cuticles on your hair are. The cuticles close in acidic conditions, and open more in basic conditions.

Symptoms of Low Porosity Hair:

* Hair floats when you do the strand test (put a clean strand of hair in a cup of water and see if it floats or sinks)
* Hair takes a while to get wet
* Hair takes long to dry
* Water and oil just sit on the hair
* Hard to moisturize (aka your hair stays dry)
* Hair is sensitive to protein
* Relaxers don't "take"

If any of this applies to you, you may have hair with low porosity! My hair definitely has trouble retaining moisture, takes a while to dry sometimes, and floats when I put it in water. I realized a couple of months ago that my hair had low porosity because treating my hair with low pH levels wasn't working.

Ways to manage lo-po hair:

Use warm water to rinse. It is recommended that we rinse conditioner out with cold water to seal the cuticle, but since low-porosity hair already has a closed cuticle, you don't want to seal it anymore.

Stay away from acidic shampoos and conditioners. For a while I was using Roux Porosity Control, but eventually I noticed that it either did nothing for my hair, or it made it hard. My hair can take apple cider vinegar (ACV) sometimes, but not a lot and not often. I've been using Organic Root Stimulator Aloe-Rid Shampoo, which I love. It clarifies my hair, opens my cuticles enough to accept a deep condition, and makes my hair soft.

Steaming. The hot steam will open up the cuticles, which is why so many low-porosity heads love steaming. I don't have a steamer, so I do the "DIY" method, which is applying conditioner, then a plastic cap, then a very hot wet towel, then another plastic cap, then another hot towel, then another plastic cap. Then I sit under the dryer for at least 15 minutes.

Use moisture-rich products. It is said that this hair type is least resistant to damage through styling and grooming, but it's really important to keep it moisturized. Be careful with the protein! My hair doesn't seem to be too sensitive to protein, so I try to incorporate a light protein in my hair for every wash, whether it's the pre-poo, deep condition, or leave-in conditioner. It's even more important for low-porosity hair to have a good moisture/protein balance. I'm still on a the hunt to find a good moisturizer. My hair is also sensitive to too much oil, so I have to be very light-handed when applying oils.

DC with heat. This is important. It's even more important to deep condition for a substantial amount of time. If I can, I'll leave in my conditioner over night, or for hours while I do housework/run errands/go to the gym.
Edit: I realized the hard way that I have to deep condition with heat.  Working out or keeping the conditioner in for a long period of time doesn't work for me.

Baggy the hair. This is basically bullying your hair to accept moisture. Because my hair is fine, baggying for a long time turns my hair into mush and makes it even more fragile. So, I usually baggy for about 2 hours at a time and that's it. I apply a little moisturizer and then put on a plastic cap for a couple of hours. I've only been doing this for a couple of weeks, about 3 days a week, but I can already tell a difference in my moisture level.

Heat before relaxing to open the cuticle. I don't have a problem with relaxers straightening my hair, but many women will flat iron or blow dry their hair before relaxing to open up the cuticles so that the relaxer takes a shorter time to straighten the roots.

Use alkaline products with a high pH (above 6, or so). Baking soda rinse - baking soda is alkaline.

Apply a semi-permanent color. Semi-permanent color lifts the cuticle
I am not sure if my hair always had a low pH level, or if it came with having a child or just getting older.

I'm determined to keep my hair moist, thick and healthy, so I will continue to try new products, techniques and tools!


Shika said...

Great, informative post! I never thought to associate protein sensitivity to porosity but it totally makes sense!

SweetIntent said...

I feel like ive been cheated.. this whole time on my hj. Everyone raves about oils but my hate doesnt do well with any esp coconut oil. I read over n over to stay away from heat... when this is what my hair actually needs. I end with dry brittle hair everytime. Lets not even mention how sensitive my hair is to protein. Thank you for all of this inifo. I gotta change evrything up. Not being able to keep my hair moisturize = no length retention. Makes sense why Ive been SL never being able to claim APL. SIGH

PinkPearls said...

Great information! This is the first I've read on treating low porosity hair. I've always wondered why my hair thrives when using heat. If I don't use heat, I experience dryness and breakage. I started using ACV as my final finse, but noticed using cold water creates frizz. I started applying my leave-ins in the shower, while it's still humid, and noticed my hiar doesn't frizz, and is much softer and moisturized.

Samantha said...

Curious about how to test, do I take a strand from my hair and put it in water?

Anonymous said...

wow amazzingg thnxx dat helped a LOT ^_^

Anonymous said...

Though I may be months LATE, thank you soooooo much for this informative post. It is exactly what I need!!!!!!!!!!!

Jennii {JaiiLa} said...

Hi Tiffanita. My name is Jenni. I love your blog! I was reading this thread on low porosity and I realize it examined my hair to the T! My hair hates Coconut Oil and I have to apply heat when I deep condition. I've been stuck at shoulder length for the longest and I was wondering do you know any products that can help low porosity hair. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

Charlotte said...

I am terribly confused. I did a porosity test, not sure if I did it right. It did not sink really at all. I never really thought of my hair as being difficult to get wet but I guess I haven't thought about that too much before. What led me to do this test is that my hair did not seem to benefit from any product. It seemed like all they did was weigh down my hair without taking care of any frizz and without giving my hair nourishment so it can stay healthy. So even though I have really long hair I have always had to s&d (search and destroy) no matter how much I follow the rules my hair would just break easily. I tried protein before like eggs on my hair and it gave me more split ends. Shea butter seemed to give me split ends. Brushes give me split ends, what else...oils seem to give me split ends. So some of the symptoms I am confused by. You would think though that being my strand was probably not 100% clean and still did not sink, that if anything my hair is lower porosity than what showed on the test. Only one part of the strand slightly dropped just below the top surface. I am so tired of finding icky split ends and breakage. I don't even bother with hair cuts anymore because it's the same thing right after it's cut. I am doing sharp trims little by little because I have learned from experience that all you do when you cut my hair is make it shorter. The split ends are there at either length, and immediately. I bought a heat cap and put some honey on my hair. Hoping for healthier hair.

How to Cure Split Ends said...

ok, thank you for the information