Porous Hair - Causes and Treatments

A balanced level of porosity can be the difference between hair that looks lush and vibrant, and hair that looks heavy and unkempt. It all comes down to how your hair absorbs moisture. Unfortunately, we put our hair through a lot.

Chemical treatments like coloring and bleaching are the main causes of porous hair, but damage from harsh weather and fabrics can make the problem worse.

Let’s take a look at how to identify porous hair, and the best ways to bring it back to a healthy balance.

High Porosity vs. Low Porosity

Hair with high porosity retains too much moisture. This occurs when the hair cuticle peels back, letting in more moisture than is needed.

While healthy hair can absorb about 30% of its weight in water, high porosity hair can absorb up to 50%. While you certainly want to maintain some level of moisture, overly porous can cause a lot of problems.

The weight of all that water can start to stretch and weaken your hair strands. This stress will make it lose the ability to snap back into shape, and your hair will start to look unhealthy. This is why you should never keep your hair in a constant state of wetness — it can be very hard to repair.

Here are some more characteristics of highly porous hair:

  • Easy to dye, but the colors generally wash out quicker
  • Dries out very easily
  • Reacts to the weather (dry when dry, frizzy when wet)
  • Easily tangled

And here are some characteristics of low-porous hair:

  • Very tight cuticles
  • Does not retain moisture
  • Feels like hair product “sits” on top of your hair

Ideally, you’d like hair to be somewhere in the middle. Luckily, there are ways to change the porosity of your hair.

How to Fix Porous Hair

Here are three of the best methods and products to repair your hair cuticle and balance your moisture levels.

1. Deep Conditioning

Even if your hair is balanced, a protein-rich deep conditioning treatment should be a part of your regimen. It’s packed with proteins and essentially this is what your strands need to smooth out. (Your hair strands are made almost entirely of protein so it’s no secret what you should be using on them.)

When it comes to repairing porous hair, there’s not much you can do about your ends. Instead, pay close attention to your roots. Give them an extra couple minutes of scalp massaging to really get that circulation going. You don’t want the hair near your roots to have the same fate as your porous tips.

2. Aloe Vera Gel

A great way to improve the condition of your scalp is with a small amount of aloe vera gel, either in your conditioner or as a stand-alone product. Studies have shown that aloe vera is one of the best ways to balance the pH level on your scalp and help promote better circulation.

3. Olive Oil

Adding a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil can help seal the hair cuticle so that it can better resist moisture. It’s one of the few oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft, where it fortifies the structure of your hair. You can also try shea butter which is a bit heavier, but both have the same effect.

For Low-Porous Hair

Use a heat treatment to help open up your cuticles. Look for heavier moisturizing products that specialize in penetrating fussy hair strands. Deep conditioning treatments can help open up your cuticles over time.

Just remember to be patient when dealing with highly porous or under-porous hair. If you’re not sure whether or not you have porous hair, you can take this test to find out.

If you want to see results, you must remain consistent with your routine. Take care of your diet, stay hydrated, and be patient. You’ll see the results you want if you stick with it.

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