Many people will tell you that understanding your hair porosity is the first step is establishing an effective hair care routine – I certainly agree with this. Knowing how to test your hair porosity, however, is usually the challenge.
To determine your hair porosity, there are different hair porosity tests you can perform to know if your hair falls into one of these categories: low porosity, medium porosity or high porosity.
In this article we will review 4 hair porosity tests and assess other ways you can use to determine your hair porosity. We will also answer common hair porosity questions such as: Are hair porosity tests accurate? When should you test hair porosity?
The most common Hair Porosity Tests include;
- Float Test
- Slip & Slide Test
- Dry Test
- Watershed Test
With that summary out of the way, let’s dive into understanding the hair porosity tests highlighted above and how to perform the tests to determine your hair porosity.
Hair Porosity Tests
The Float Test is the most common and most recommended hair porosity test. This test is very simple and only requires a glass of water and 2-3 strands of hair from different parts of your head.
How to test your hair porosity using the float test
- Fill a clear, clean glass with water
- Take a few strands of your hair.
- Place your strand of hair in the glass of water and watch how it behaves.
- If your hair stays at the top of the glass, then it is low porosity. If your hair floats in the middle, it has medium porosity. If your hair sinks at the bottom, it is high porosity.
- Repeat this process with hair from different parts of your head and record the results.
Relying on this test alone may not help you as much hence why you will need to repeat the hair porosity test using another method.
This test is also referred to as Absorption Test. It’s also one of the popular ones. It works by observing how your hair behaves in absorbing water and products.
Low porosity hair takes time to absorb moisture and products because the cuticles in this hair type are tightly closed while high porosity hair absorbs moisture and products very quickly because of the open cuticles.
How to test your hair porosity using the Watershed Test
- Put water in a spray bottle
- Take a section of your hair and spray it with water.
- Observe how long, it takes for your hair to observe the water.
- If your hair absorbs water quickly, then, you have high porosity hair. If it absorbs slowly, then, you have low porosity hair.
The challenge I find with this test is that unless you have a reference point, how do you know how long is too long? There is very little guidance when it comes to the length of time it takes for different porosity types to absorb moisture.
Slip & Slide Test
The slip and slide test is the one I consider most complicated. Luckily, you will not be relying on this alone to determine your hair porosity. This should be used together with at least two other tests.
How to test your hair porosity using the Slip and Slide Test
- Take a strand of your hair between your fingertips.
- Slowly move up your fingertips towards the scalp as you feel your strand of hair.
- If it feels smooth then you have low porosity hair but if it feels bumpy, then, the raised cuticles mean that you have high porosity hair.
This is one of the interesting hair porosity tests I have come across. Proponents of this method seem to praise it. It’s easy to perform but you must be patient. Again, don’t rely on this method alone.
How to test your hair porosity using the Dry Test
- Wash your hair with your regular shampoo and rinse but don’t dry it out.
- Don’t use any other hair products.
- Put water somewhere on your body, e.g. arms and don’t dry it out.
- Observe if your hair or your body dries first.
- If your hair dries out before your body, then, it means that you have high porosity. However, if your body dries out before your hair, then, you have low porosity hair.
Those are the most common hair porosity tests available but are there other ways of knowing your hair porosity?
Yes, there are. In this next section we will look into other ways you can use to determine your hair porosity.
Hair Porosity Quiz
There are websites and mobile applications that you can use to help you determine your hair porosity by taking their hair porosity quizzes.
These quizzes focus on how your hair behaves to give a more complete picture of your hair porosity. The quizzes may comprise of a set of 5-15 questions that you need to answer as accurately as possible.
Would you like to take a hair porosity quiz? Here is one we’ve designed for you.
How to Determine Hair Porosity Using Hair Characteristics
Another somewhat unconventional way of determining your hair porosity is assessing your hair characteristics in a given period of time. This method requires that you understand your hair and keenly observe how it behaves.
It’s related to the hair porosity quiz method only this time you do it yourself.
This method works by first having a thorough understanding of the characteristics of the different hair porosity types:
Low Porosity Hair Characteristics
Low porosity means that the cuticles are close together. This makes it hard for moisture to penetrate the cuticle and reach the cortex. However, on the other hand, this hair doesn’t lose moisture easily once you use the right hair products on it.
The characteristics of low porosity hair are;
- Takes a long time for low porosity hair to get wet
- Products sits on the hair hence prone to product build-up
- Heat is needed for better product absorption
- Hair tends to be too oily
- Hair takes time to dry up
- Water beads up on hair
- Higher probability to get dandruff
- Hair resists color treatments
- The hair needs to be clarified for better moisture retention
- Hair reacts better using humectants
- The hair resists conditioners
High Porosity Hair Characteristics
High porosity means that the cuticles have a lot of space between them. This hair easily gets moisture from products but it loses moisture even quicker so this can lead to dry, brittle hair.
The characteristics of high porosity hair are;
- Hair feels dry most of the times
- Rapid moisture loss
- Frizzy hair
- Hair is prone to breakage
- Hair gets wet very easily
- Hair tangles easily
- Rarely looks shiny
- Absorbs products very easily
- Hardly gets greasy
- Hair lacks elasticity
Medium Porosity Hair Characteristics
Medium porosity means that the cuticles have a bit of space between them. This means that moisture easily penetrates the cuticle and reaches the cortex. However, your hair also loses moisture but less than high porosity hair.
The characteristics of medium porosity hair are;
- The hair is easy to style
- Medium porosity hair can hold styles for a good length of time
- Hair tends to look healthy
- Hair takes in color well
- The hair doesn’t take too long to air dry
Are Hair Porosity Tests Accurate?
Different hair porosity methods have varying accuracy levels. The Slip and Slide Test is considered the least accurate while the Float and Watershed Tests are considered somewhat accurate.
In order to get accurate and reliable results, you will need to perform at least 3 hair porosity tests.
Another important consideration is testing hair from different sections of your head. This is because your hair porosity may vary in different sections of your hair.
What do others think of the hair porosity tests?
There are mixed reactions on whether testing your hair porosity is important. On one hand, we have hair bloggers that swear that hair porosity has helped them take off their hair so that it can reach its full potential. By understanding hair porosity, they’re able to buy the best products for their hair care needs.
With high porosity hair, it’s all about protecting it with heavy butter products so it repairs and stays moisturized. With low porosity hair, it’s about applying products with a humectant like honey and glycerin while your hair is wet to help the moisture penetrate your hair well.
Related Articles: How to care for low porosity hair
On the other hand, we have people that critique hair porosity tests. One downside of the float test is that different hair strands might indicate different hair porosity levels.
Also, damaged hair or hair that’s filled with oils will give inaccurate hair porosity results. Further, people might have hair with different thickness levels, so this will affect whether they sink or float, quickly.
All of these factors make it hard to believe results from one porosity test. This means that the reliability of other porosity tests can be compromised.
Furthermore, there isn’t a standardized model that everyone can compare their results to. So everyone is left to interpret their results and decide what type of hair have.
When Should You Test Your Hair Porosity?
You can test your hair porosity whenever you have time. It’s a good thing to check your hair porosity as you experiment with different hair products because it might help you understand why some products work for your friends but not for you.
If your hair has suffered damage from heat, chlorine or sunlight and you’ve been repairing it with hair products and other techniques. Then, you can use the hair porosity tests to see if you’ve reversed the damage.
Never do the hair porosity test on hair that has a build-up of products and chemicals. The protein found in the products might give you inaccurate results.
Always wash your hair preferably with a paraben and sulfate-free shampoo and rinse with lukewarm water so that your hair is in its natural state. Check the ingredients, if you’re not sure that your shampoo is sulfate-free.
I hope this article has shed some light on hair porosity tests. If you forget everything else, remember this:
- Don’t just rely on one test to determine your hair porosity, use at least 3 methods to tests your hair porosity for more accurate result
- Use hair strands from different parts of your head to test your head as the porosity may vary
- Your hair porosity may change if your hair have is damaged
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