To understand how much moisture our hair has the capacity to hold, we have to get to grips with the porosity, which in layman’s terms refers to the space in the hair follicles.
“If we think of the hair like straw, healthy hair has a nice smooth cuticles running down the straw but damaged, porous hair has holes in it. The type of hair that’s porous needs a repair product that acts as a filler to fill gaps, and the smooth type needs a light product to hydrate enough without weighing down,” says Senior Master Stylist at Charles Worthington Salons, Johanne Herald.
Most of us follow the typical haircare routine of shampoo, conditioner and the occasional mask or serum, but did you know that every hair type works and absorbs product differently, which automatically has a knock-on effect on the quantity and type of product our hair needs?
Some of the main hair types and their porosity:
Normal non coloured/damaged hair that rarely uses heat
This type of hair will have closed cuticles and already contain moisture well, so will hold a lot of moisture and can result in longer drying time.
Thick curly/wavy hair (brunette or darker)
Tends to hold moisture very well.
Finer curly hair (dark blonde or lighter)
Tends to lose moisture quickly.
Straight thick brunette or darker
They also hold moisture longer.
Fine straight hair (lighter colours reds)
This will dry quicker.
The general rule of thumb here is if your hair tends to hold a lot of moisture, you’d need to use lightweight shampoos and conditioners, whereas if your hair doesn’t retain as much moisture, you’ll need to use products with a much thicker consistency.
How to test hair porosity
Ways of testing your hair’s porosity is mainly done through trial and error. This means trying a few shampoos and conditioners to see which consistency works best for your hair, and if the product’s results actually reign true.
As well as plumping for a classic cleansing routine that’s bespoke to your hair porosity, hair treatments are also a great way of ensuring you’re getting the healthiest hair you possibly can. Hair masking is becoming just as popular as face masking as a short, simple enhancement to your existing hair routine. Serving the purpose of nourishment and replenishment using masks is a great way to add that extra element of care. When it comes to masks, it’s important to bear in mind which moisture type your hair is, as the creamier masks tend to make hair appear flatter on hair types which already retain a lot of moisture.
“Masks won’t necessarily give volume, but are good at replenishing moisture and should only be applied once a week maximum, as a treat for the hair,” says Toni Guy’s International Artistic Director, Daniele de Angelis.
In terms of product recommendations, Daniele says a product such as label.m Volume Mousse applied to damp, thick hair before blow-drying will absolutely give more volume. “If you have finer hair it is best to opt for slightly lighter products such as label.m Volume Foam to boost hair without weighing it down” says Daniele.
Treatments aside, it turns out your hair porosity actually affects the shine and frizz of your hair. “If there is a lot of moisture in the air, hair with high porosity will suck it in, resulting in frizzy or un-cooperative locks. High humidity will prompt absorption which in turn causes swelling of the hair. On the other hand, hair with low porosity, which retains a lot of moisture, may become greasy quicker – resulting in shine (and not the good kind). Keeping your hair hydrated and conditioned will prevent unwanted moisture absorption, so make sure you are using a protein- rich conditioner within your regime” says Daniele.
Finding specific solutions for your unique hair type is definitely a journey, but hopefully this will get you that one step closer.
To learn more about how to handle your hair, check out GLAMOUR’s guide on how to grow your hair.