Hair Porosity 101: What Is It & Why You Need To Know

big, curly, textured hair
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez

The most common concerns with natural hair that I hear about or receive emails on are usually, “How can I get my curls to pop?” “I’m not receiving enough moisture.” “How can I get my hair to grow?” These are the typical concerns for naturals and new naturals. Trust me, I get it. I understand that desire for long luscious hair. However, we must go deeper into understanding our hair. You must understand your hair’s porosity if you want to seriously achieve healthy growing hair.

Hair porosity is one of the most overlooked hair properties. Not knowing your hair’s porosity level can, in fact, be detrimental to your “hair growth” journey. Once you identify your hair’s porosity level, you will know what products to use. You will then notice your hair retaining moisture and becoming healthy. Let’s take a look at the different levels of hair porosity and more importantly, how you can find your hair’s porosity level.

Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb moisture or the ability for liquid, air, or chemicals to pass through or out the layers of the cuticle. Now, the cuticle, the overlapping scales of the hair, is the major player in this whole game when it comes to hair porosity. Because wherever the position of your cuticles sits will determine your hair condition, i.e. whether your hair is dry, frizzy, limp, moisturized, gets tangled easily, etc. And there are three levels to porosity — Normal, High, and Low.

Normal Porosity

The cuticles are normally healthy. The position in which the cuticles sit allows product to penetrate and keep hair moisturized. For the most part, with this level, the hair is shiny, smooth, and soft. Liquids or products that penetrate the cuticle will enter and stay, which keeps your hair moisturized.

High porosity

The cuticles are very porous. The appearance of the cuticle in high porosity hair may look uneven or frizzy because the cuticles are raised and lifted. The cuticles are opened, willing to receive moisture and more moisture and even more moisture. Sounds great. Right? However, the problem is that because the cuticles are greatly opened, an abundant source of moisture is escaping the hair. This can lead to breakage and may even leave your hair dry and damaged because the hair is not being properly moisturized.

Low porosity

The cuticles sit flat and are very tight or compacted. Because of this, the cuticle will most likely not allow for liquid, air, chemical treatments, or products to penetrate the hair shaft. This can cause product build-up because the products are just sitting on your hair. The cuticles are not opened enough for the cortex to receive the hydration and moisture that it needs. The key for low porosity hair is that it needs hydration and moisture.

Swipe through for a quick test to determine your hair’s porosity.

Prev Page1 of 2
Use ← → to browse

About The Author


Claire Brown is the owner and founder of Kriya Botanicals, an all-natural hair care product line. With a degree in Exercise Science, she uses her health and science background to develop all-natural hair care products. For a breakdown of each porosity level, or additional hair care tips, visit or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.